Monday, July 02, 2007

Buy The People ...

Friday, I returned to the Chicago Tribune. A long-time friend was one of the lucky bastards to land a buyout in the latest chapter of the Tribune saga and Friday was his last day of 36 years of service.

Chris started at the Tribune the year after I was born. Gaa. I didn't quite last five years at that place. So 36 blows my mind. My entire lifetime at the Tribune? Nope.

I left the Tribune to take a job with Thomson Newspapers, back when there was a Thomson Newspapers. A few years later, the Thomson Corporation decided to divest itself of the newspaper business, and the division I was working for was to be shuttered. Faced with the prospect of getting another job, my boss wisely told me, "Buy the people." The work itself didn't much matter, he reasoned. It would be the people who would make or break the job.

And so, returning to the Tribune Friday, I was reminded of how much I liked working there because of the people. As I was chatting with Chris, Marshall approached the conversation. I never really spoke with Marshall when I worked there but I always thought he was very handsome, a cross between Sean Connery and James Taylor. And then Jeff Lyon appeared. Jeff won a Pulitzer in 1987 for explanatory writing ... about genetics. Wow. Unlike Marshall, I did speak with Jeff during my tenure, always got along with him very well. He mentioned that he's been talking about me with someone we both know. He closed his eyes hard, trying to remember the name.

"Oh, sure, that guy," I offered. "I love him."

Jeff chuckled.

The conversation divvied itself up into Chris and Jeff, and me and Marshall. Until Jeff remembered the name he'd forgotten. "Adam!" Of remembering his name, Jeff said, "It's like blowing a bubble through a straw in a thick milkshake. You blow, and six minutes later, the bubble shows up on top."

So, right! Adam! Adam is the director of special events for a foundation and Jeff is on the board.

Apparently, every time he and Adam talk, I become a topic of conversation.

Which I find amusing, as Adam and I haven't really chatted in ages, so God only knows what stories Adam is telling Jeff.

I wrote to Adam when I got home that night, mentioned seeing Jeff and mentioned that we were supposed to get together for dinner like a bazillion years ago.

Adam replied that he's been really busy with events and has two more in the hopper.

"What's your August like?" he asked, then said, "And, by the by, Jeff Lyon adores you!"

I replied, "I'm doing the 3-Day August 10-12. I should be awake by August 15. And, by the by, I adore Jeff Lyon!"

Jeff, by the way (and because I have a way of ascribing celebrities to everyone), reminds me of Jeroen Krabbé.

Who?, you're asking.

He's one of those character actors whose name you don't know, but then you see him and say, "Oh, that guy!" He was, you'll remember, the bad-guy doctor in The Fugitive, the guy who pretends to be Harrsion Ford's friend.

But Jeff is more handsome. And much nicer.

The weird thing about being back at the Trib and chatting with everyone (Randy, Mark, Nancy, Geoff, Barbara, and the list goes on) was that it didn't feel like I'd left there nearly a decade ago.

A decade. How has a decade gone by since I walked out those doors?

Before I left, I spoke with Rick Kogan, offered my condolences on the passing of him mom. Rick was a friend back in the day. He made me a much more accomplished drinker, a skill I've since lost. My drinking muscles have atrophied.

Rick has the most fabulous voice in the history of voices. (Not surprisingly, he has a radio show. You can check him out on Sunday mornings on WGN-AM 720 or here. As the site says, "Rick Kogan starts off your Sunday morning (and probably finishes off his Saturday night) with stories unique to Chicago and discussion on the news and oddities of the day."

I love "... and probably finishes off his Saturday night." Earlier in his career, they didn't call him Dr. Nightlife for nothing.

Rick asked what I was up to. I told him I edit for an IT consulting company.

"What does that mean?" he asked.

"It's too dull to even explain," I said.

And then he suggested, in his gravelly voice, that we need to get together for a drink.

Some things, truly, don't change.

3 Comments:

Blogger Mercurie said...

I actually think the people at one's job can be more important than the job's conditions themselves. I mean, I have had some miserable jobs, but they were made all the more bearable by the people there.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeroen Krabbe played a totally self-absorbed author in a great chick-flick, "Crossing Delancey." Amy Irving, who works at a bookstore, falls for his charms, while resisting the pickle man her Bubbe has found for her. She eventually sees the author for the self-absorbed jerk that he is. Peter Riegert played the pickle man.

8:32 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

It must be a lot of fun working in the newspaper biz. I have a Journalism degree from the University of Oregon but I got sidetracked and ended up working for the phone company. But hey, that's been a good experience too and the benefits are awesome.

7:19 AM  

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