Four years and 10 months ago, the Lassen County Times hired an ambitious 25-year-old boy named Patrick Shillito, barely removed from college, as wet behind the ears as a cub reporter possibly could be.
Since then, it’s been all downhill.
I’m still wet behind the ears, but at least now I know how to wash, rinse and repeat.
This will be my last opinion article for the Lassen County Times.
This month, I begin the long, arduous trek to a little known city in Nevada known as Reno.
The truth is, I’ve been putting off writing this article.
I find the task of trying to cover all the feelings, emotions, events, and people I’ve experienced over the years to be incredibly difficult.
But my time at the Times has made me a writer, so I’ll give it a shot.
I believe it was District 2 Supervisor who may have paid me the ultimate compliment after I informed him I was leaving: “When you first got here, you were that guy who everyone was wondering what he was doing here.
After a while, you were the guy who somehow wormed your way into everyone’s hearts.” Gee whiz, thanks Jim.
One thing I’ve learned about the people in Lassen County is that they can sometimes be wary of people from out of the area, people who weren’t born and raised here.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
It shows the people from here are fiercely protective of their home.
That was never really the case for me.
There might have been a little apprehension at first (I seem to remember my first My Turn article about not liking trucks eliciting ‘a little’ feedback for the paper).
But you, the community, have made me feel very welcome.
You have shown me a kindness I have never experienced in any of the cities I’ve lived in, from the East Coast to the West Coast.
At times, you have made me feel like a celebrity, coming out to comedy shows and local play productions.
At other times, you’ve reminded me that I was the jackass who spelled your brother’s name wrong or wrote down the wrong date.
That’s right, I wrote the word jackass (it’s my last article, sue me).
I know it seems like a whole article just for me to say goodbye might seem somewhat self-indulgent, but that reflects a huge aspect of what it has meant to be a reporter for this community.
A reporter in a larger city will interact with hundreds, maybe thousands of people on a constant basis, interviewing them, quoting them, then just as quickly dismissing them, never to see them again.
Reporters at the Lassen County Times don’t always have that kind of anonymity.
The day the paper comes out, whether we wrote something you agree with or don’t agree with, we’re back out there the street asking more questions.
It takes a special kind of fearlessness to walk into a room knowing you just wrote something that has people staring daggers at you.
For me, that fearlessness has come from what I consider the greatest support group in the world: my coworkers at the Lassen County Times.
As much as there are going to be literally hundreds of people in the community that I will miss, none will have had as much of a profound impact on my life as my friends at the paper.
We’ve been in this together from the beginning, and that kind of camaraderie is rare.
This last article is for you, the staff and former staff of the greatest little paper in California.
I don’t have family in Susanville.
But Brian, Mike, Keri, Sandy, Linda, Kayleen, Sam, Barb, Judy, Patty, Cindie, Aura, Rushelle, Shayla, Bob, Ruth, Jennifer, Lori, Susan, Laura, Jill, Sharon, Ashly, Ben, Scott, Patrick, Tressa, Carolyn, Cheryl, Erika, Betsy, all of the distribution staff and everyone else in the Feather Publishing Company have been like family to me over the years.
You have helped me become a better writer, a better man and a better human being.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you’ve helped me accomplish, and I know that whatever future success I have in my life, you will all be a part of it.
As for Lassen County and Susanville, it’s still the smallest community I’ve ever lived in.
But from here on out, I know I’ll never find a place with a bigger heart.
Thank you all for what you’ve done for me.
I love trucks.
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