20 years at the Free Press
I am so proud to be associated with this group of
people. It totally overshadows anything I have ever done in my life
or, I am sure, ever will. I did not ever consider crossing the line,
for many layers of reasons I still do not entirely understand. At
least one of them has to do with the bunch of stand-up guys I grew
up with in a mill town in Wisconsin. They are still my friends and
I could never face them again in this life or the next as a line-crosser.
Then, of course, there was my own good opinion of myself, the need
to remake myself somehow in some way that I can no longer at my
age. The fact is at the moment of the strike I was more or less
totally absorbed in the business of making innumerable contacts
and friends outside the newspaper to produce the kind
of feature stories I like to write. I have never been a good member
of any organization, rarely attended union meetings and so forth.
In recent years, almost unbeknownst to myself, as I grew older in
my job and younger people came into the business department, I found
myself somewhat marooned on a little island populated by three or
four other people over 55 at the paper (who ultimately crossed).
I guess, absent the strike, I was headed toward some kind of benign
retirement at the Free Press three or four years hence, essentially
a stranger to the organization and my colleagues. At the end, there
would have been no reward but coffee and cake in Room 100 with a
bunch of professional acquaintances. (As usual at company retirement
parties, many of them probably would have shown up just for the
food.) This strike has given me many new and much more intense friendships.
Knowing full well the pain that so many people have suffered, I
could never have chosen this thing. But now that it has come my
way, it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. It has
allowed me to discover my true community and rediscover my humanity.