Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Goodbye Gala

Friday I went to a farewell party for a friend of mine. She and I had both started working at WFLA-TV in Tampa in 1997. I lasted two years; she stayed a decade. Unless there's a story she's not sharing, she resigned voluntarily without having another job lined up.

That is a scary prospect, as I know from experience. But I survived and I know she will too. If all else fails she'll have no trouble returning to television but after ten years of knowing where your next paycheck is coming from, casting yourself adrift into the unknown can cause some sleepless nights.

So it is understandable that her gala was marked with many smiles and a few tears. I e-mailed later to tell her that it was right that she feel mixed emotions. I wrote about an old PBS show about birds I remember watching years ago. It was time for a nervous fledgling to take his first flight. As he launched himself, he defecated what looked like half his body weight. The moral was clear: Even if you have wings, taking a big leap can scare the crap out of you.

When I say that I don't miss TV news, that's true. But even now the fear will occasionally flash through my head: "What have I done! I left the greatest job I will ever have!" You know what? I'm grateful for that because if I never missed it, it would mean that all the time and effort I poured into it was wasted. What a shame that would be. So don't panic, I wrote to her, if it happens to you.

It has helped me that I still do some freelance work and I'm sure it's an avenue she'll explore.

She took pains to remind everyone that she was merely leaving the station, not the area. Some people will forget anyway. Out of sight, out of mind. I told her it would not be a reflection on her. She is more memorable than most. She greeted everyone at the party with an enthusiasm that that made each feel as if he or she were the one person she was most glad showed up. I know I felt it -- at least until I saw her give the next person the same welcome.

That may be the greatest talent a person can have. And it's one reason I'm glad I stayed in touch all these years. Well, OK. She's also cute.

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