Any final words? Keep the lights on |

Any final words? Keep the lights on

by Sheila Gardner

I came into the office Christmas night to start cleaning out my desk, hoping to avoid an audience as I cleared away the detritus from the past 10 years since I became editor.

Actually, it’s only been four years since we moved The Record-Courier over from Eddy Street, but that has been plenty of time for me to accumulate a lot of possessions.

As I was packing up my old reporter’s notebooks and rummaging around my desk for dried out food and loose change, I found an envelope with $15. Hey, I said to myself, this isn’t so bad. I didn’t find more money, but I did uncover several unopened mustard packets, an old tea bag, Band-Aids, dental floss, the 1996 Douglas County master plan, mystery computer disks, plastic forks and spoons and a truckload of memories.

Some people may wonder why I am transferring to our sister newspaper, The Nevada Appeal, after so long at The R-C. I can’t really say. Did you ever just wake up one day and think, “It’s time for a change”? The day that happened to me there was an opening at the Appeal and they accepted me.

My new hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and my supervisor is named Angel. That sounds promising.

I like working nights, or at least I did when I started out so many years ago. In my experience, there has always been something magical about swing shift. For one thing, it’s a lot more casual than dayside. The dress code is fairly relaxed. If you’re deskbound, as I expect to be, you can wear jeans every day. In fact, I’ve worked in some news organizations where the night crew didn’t even wear pants! But that was back East and I digress.

Another characteristic I’ve observed working nights is how people answer the phone. During the day, it’s all, ” Blah, blah, blah, may I help you?” After 5 p.m., when the professionals go home, I like to bark “night desk” into the telephone so the poor sap on the other end doesn’t know if he has the newspaper or the 23rd Precinct.

I’m also looking forward to settling bar bets again, a time-honored tradition at most newspapers. I admire people – drunk or sober – who can navigate automatic telephone systems until they connect with a human. Invariably, they’re calling from Moe’s Tavern and want to know who won the 1931 World Series, Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon, Stanley Cup, Rose Bowl, etc. My answers are always the same: If the inebriate is male, the answer is “Pittsburgh Pirates”; women get “Notre Dame.” If I can’t determine the caller’s gender, it’s “Ohio State Buckeyes.” Then I slam down the phone.

I am leaving behind the Mickey Mouse Club hat with my name on it, my Jack-in-the Box toy collection, a suspicious-looking yellow rock I brought back from the Leviathan Mine, two fossilized tangerines from long-ago Christmases and the finest group of journalists it’s been my privilege to know.

I can say that because I hired all of them except Joyce Hollister who got here before I did and everyone would agree is the best of the bunch.

To the R-C editorial crew, Joyce, Linda, Merrie, Chuck, Nancy, Belinda, Shannon, Leslie, Dely and Heidi: the toys are upstairs in a box in the corner with all my old notebooks. Make Peter and Christy give you a little play break now and then in my honor.

Always remember to use your spell checks TWICE and turn off the coffeepot at night. Leave the lights on for me, I’ll be coming home in the dark.

n After editing The Record-Courier in two millennia, Sheila Gardner can be found at the Nevada Appeal beginning Jan. 17.