I have taken on all manner of jobs during my 18 years in the workforce.
In rough chronological order, I have worked under the guise of a gas jockey, construction lackey, fish monger, hotel bartender/steward, cigar salesman, Starbucks barista, dishwasher, poultry plant minion, photolab technician, landscaper, medical recruitment consultant, yoga instructor, wedding photographer, soap maker, farmers’ market vendor and, of course, a reporter.
When I arrived at the Morning Star nearly eight years ago, it felt like I had finally discovered what I was meant to be doing from a professional standpoint. With the exception of yoga, everything else was simply a job, something to pay the bills.
Which is what makes my decision to leave the Morning Star family a difficult one. As of Sunday, I will be moving on to a new venture with Vernon’s Read Head Copywriting, owned by the illustrious Natalie Appleton.
With the family Omstead Farm operation expanding, plus my wife’s ever-growing home-based business – Om Naturale Herbal Care Products (there’s no harm in a final plug in my farewell column, right?) – and our very busy 15-month-old son Narayan, I needed to incorporate a little more flexibility in my life. With Read Head, I not only found that, I found a way to stay connected to my communications background.
I’ve only been living in the North Okanagan since 2005, so I barely qualify as a local, being a reporter has certainly accelerated my integration into the community. There are so many people I have met along the way that I would like to thank, starting with the people in the newsroom.
From Glenn (Good Newsy Paper) Mitchell bringing me up from The Lake Country Calendar to work at The Star, to sports editor Kevin Mitchell patiently teaching me how to write a half-decent lede, you showed me what it takes to be good at this job.
To Roger, Richard, Lisa, Katherine, Jenny, Kristin and Cara, you are what makes the editorial department tick, and, as deranged as our little family can be at times, you have always been there for me, and you have made my time in our temperature-challenged newsroom enjoyable.
Unless you have experienced the process, it would be difficult to fully appreciate just how much effort it takes from everyone – including our ad salespeople, creative experts, circulation department, pressmen and office support staff – to continually produce a newspaper of substance. I’m obviously biased, but I think you are holding one of the best community newspapers you will find anywhere. That goes back to the dedication of the people who work here.
I also want to thank Jack McCarthy, former owner/publisher/janitor of The Calendar, for taking a chance on me. It was one of the last remaining independent papers in all of B.C. when I joined it, and Jack’s passion for community issues was inspiring. I’m sure he ticked a lot of people off with his boisterous, unapologetic approach, but he always had Lake Country’s best interests at heart.
Of all the things I do as a reporter, I probably spend more time watching Junior A hockey, and subsequently waiting outside of dressing rooms in Kal Tire Place, than anything (sounds exciting, right?).
I have interviewed Vernon Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner more than anyone I can think of. I joked with him that I’ll miss our Saturday morning chats, when his team would have bused in from somewhere like Prince George in the wee hours.
Win, lose or otherwise, Mark was always willing to talk. Sure, he might be a little more abrupt some nights, but he is truly a class act and someone I enjoy working with. The fact that he is an exceptional coach/motivator is a bonus.
People who know me know I’m a fairly low-key individual, and that I don’t seek fanfare. The fact that I have 121 Twitter followers and 481 Facebook friends astounds me.
But in this instance, when I look back at my time at The Morning Star, I will step out of character and paraphrase a line from one of my favourite Will Ferrell movies and say: “It was kind of a big deal.”