Opinion » Street Talk

In with the old

People come, people go. It’s as easy as that. I’d make that my philosophy if I didn’t already have one: Don’t trust anyone over 30. Or is it 40? 50? I can’t quite remember, because memory, as they say, is always the first thing to go. Or something like that.
I keep pushing the age-trust limit back as my own years continue to advance. Yeah, I just keep getting older, but it sure beats the alternative. Most days.
Throughout my many, many years of presiding over this ever-changing, never-changing town, I’ve watched my fellow New Times staffers come and go like goldfish at a pet store. Every once in a while, a few new scaly neighbors plunk into the tank. Then, somebody buys them to feed to a garter snake, or they eat too much and end up floating at the surface, or they make a break for it and leap out into the air, only to slap and gasp and slowly die in the cruel and unforgiving world that lies outside these journalistic walls.
By now, I’m the biggest fish in the pond, a status that has its pluses and minuses. Nobody messes with me, but then again, nobody really wants to be around me. Maybe they respect me too much. Or maybe they think I’ll turn on them and eat them if they get too close. Come to think of it, is there a difference between those two?
So a couple weeks ago, my boss, King Harris, left the New Times stage by exiting stage left—another one bites the dust—and this new guy, Ryan Miller, suddenly steps in like he’s the king of the little plastic castle and the treasure chest that spits out little bubbles. Maybe I’m taking this fish metaphor too far. Anyway, Ryan claims that he’s been editing a New Times sister paper down in Santa Maria for the last several years, to which I say a resounding and emphatic “Ha!�
I laugh in a purely theatrical way because, first of all, nothing happens in Santa Maria worth printing—a fact that the Santa Maria Times proves every day. Still, those happy Lee journalists continue to publish each Sunday to Sunday, despite having less news content than a half-empty jar of mayonnaise and just about as much color. Also, if you give yourself a steady diet of either one, you’ll puke.
Second, anyone who voluntarily associates himself with Santa Maria is obviously mentally unbalanced or imbalanced or misbalanced or disbalanced, the last of which really should be a word despite my dictionary’s insistence that I don’t know what I’m talking about and my thesaurus’s implication that I’m cracking up a little myself. Wasn’t I just talking about goldfish?
So my new boss, this Ryan—whoever he is—storms into my office and tells me that, within a week of his setting up his reign of terror here, he ran into a woman when he was getting lunch in downtown SLO, and she told him that she never reads my column any more.
“It used to be witty,� he said she said. “Now it’s just annoying.�
Well, lady, since you’re not reading this, I’m not going to take the time to respond to you, or, just because I can, I am going to take the time to not respond to you. Take your pick. Just let me know when you’re ready for either option, because I am raring hot and good to go whenever you aren’t. Or vice versa.
The worst part about the new bosses that have paraded through here like show horses—and I’ve seen my share of new bosses and the messes they leave behind for other people to step in—is that they want to do everything their way, with no respect for things like tradition or routine or regularly scheduled nap times. We, as a writing staff, used to get chain-store coffee and pastries every Thursday at meetings, but this new chowderhead won’t even lift a finger to refill the pot brewing in the kitchen.
“I’m not a coffee drinker,� he told me. “I prefer tea, if anything.�
Ooh la la. Pardon me while my stiff upper lip and I join you for scones, guv’nor. This is America, you Pinko, and you better start acting like it. We drink coffee here, and if we’re really feeling American, we put a little something stronger in it because that’s how it’s done. Also, we all drive big cars and expect everyone everywhere to speak English.
Of course, in my many, many years spent in SLO, which I might have mentioned earlier in this column—I forget if I did or not—I’ve also learned not to piss off new bosses, because they like to work with “team players� and employees who don’t “relieve themselves in the potted plants� or “hotbox the staff bathroom.� In that case, I didn’t say anything from “Ooh la la� on, and I never will.
No, I’ve been over here in the corner, writing a very insightful and witty treatise on Ernest Dalidio and his upcoming ballot appearance, or Wal-Mart coming to Atascadero, or Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visiting San Luis Obispo, or whatever else I should have been writing about instead of complaining about my new boss, which I didn’t do.
Anyway, I don’t trust him. He doesn’t look a day over 27. ∆

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