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A farewell column: Moving on

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By Lee Einer

By the time you read this, I will no longer be employed by the Optic.

There’s no rancor on either side; it’s a corporate downsizing thing, and in this respect, I’m another casualty of the recession — I’ve got plenty of company in that, nationwide.

On the upside, I had no idea when I hired on that I would be with the Optic this long.

Several years ago, I was visiting the Optic to pick up some obsoleted computers for my “Computers for Kids” project, when Meredith Britt, the features editor, said “Hey, Lee, I’m leaving the Optic — how would you like to fill in as features editor for a couple of weeks until they find someone else?”

I accepted, and that couple of weeks quickly turned into nearly three years. And “features editor” soon turned into features editor, columnist, environmental issues editor, hard news reporter and computer tech. It’s been a wonderful learning experience, one in which I discovered capacities and talents of which I was previously unaware, and acquired valuable skills that I previously lacked.

And it has been rewarding, as well.

Since I came to Las Vegas, I have wanted to help the city, and working for the Optic has allowed me to do that.

I discovered and publicized the city’s manipulation of natural gas rates, and helped get my fellow Las Vegans some relief on their winter heating by doing so.

I covered a couple of railroad crossing fatalities in the area, and managed to nudge the powers that be into a commitment to make our local crossing safer.

The reporting on these issues won the Optic public service awards, as they should have. We didn’t just sell papers with those stories, we made Las Vegas a better place, and that, ultimately, is why the Optic is here. Selling papers just helps finance the effort.

I got to share my thoughts on environmental issues, gardening and local economics in a regular column on the Optic’s Green Page.

I got to write up local artists, musicians, and others, and promote cultural events for the community.

I learned that covering the hard news is a good way to grow a thick skin. Folks love to see their pictures in the paper if the news is good, but nobody likes it if the story about them is about possible wrongdoing. So covering the hard news well will get you loved by many and hated by a few. And that’s fine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, I’m leaving the Optic, but I am leaving with more skills than I walked in with, ready for bigger and better things. If you have enjoyed my writing, fear not, you haven’t heard the last of me.

I leave you with a story from the Middle East.

A donkey fell down a dry well, and was too far down to retrieve. The donkey’s owner, a wise man, called on his fellow villagers to shovel sand down the well. The villagers feared that the donkey would be buried alive, but when they looked, they saw to their amazement that as each shovel full fell upon his back, the clever donkey shook it off and stepped up on the new layer of sand. Soon, with the help of the shoveling villagers, the donkey had risen high enough in the well that he was able to step free of it.

The moral of the tale? When life seems to be dumping dirt on you, it’s for the best; be like the donkey, shake it off, and step up.

Bye for now.

Lee Einer may now be reached at einerlee@yahoo.com.