Column: Moving lock, stock and barrel

– published in the St. Paul Journal on July 3, 2012

After over six months of rodeos, town and county meetings, a provincial election, high school sports games, cups of coffee from McDonalds and Tim Hortons, one week without said drink, and a baby of the month story, I have officially moved on.

The move is to another newspaper in a town located in the mountains. As exciting as it is to move to a different place and experience the freshness that comes with being in a new surrounding, thinking back on my experience here in St. Paul has reminded me that living and working here was something I needed to do.

People always talk about life experiences and how no matter what post-secondary institution you’re fortunate enough to attend these days, what you learn in school pales in comparison to the knowledge you attain “in the field.”

I’ve lived in cities, or close to cities, all my life and being in St. Paul was my first real taste of working in a rural setting. It certainly showed: I had to ask someone what mutton busting was or there was that time I asked one of the office ladies why she had empty egg cartons on her desk (I actually thought it might be for an arts and crafts project). D’oh!

There certainly were a few moments where I couldn’t help look like a city slicker, but like I alluded to regarding real life experience, physically being somewhere as opposed to reading or watching TV about it has very different results.

Since being here, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside some great people, from politicians to local store owners. I learned pretty quickly that the majority of people who live in this town grew up here and after spending some time south, eventually made their way back. It may have taken me six months to comprehend that decision, but I think I’ve finally understood why.

Anyone can complain about the busy city life (‘rat race’ is an expression I’ve heard to describe places like Edmonton and such) and that’s one perfectly good reason for not residing in a major city. However, I think the biggest factor at stake in why people choose to go back to the town they grew up in is because of the people.

It’s the person you see at the grocery store helping you pack food or one of the town’s workers cleaning the sidewalks and cutting the grass at the ball diamonds. Or perhaps it’s the people working at the store on Main Street that is a functioning Laundromat, bus stop, post office and ice cream parlour combined (something I’ve never seen before, ever).

Much like the people who move away, I too will miss some faces that I’m leaving behind here in St. Paul. The people I’ll miss the most are the ones I’ve seen every week day, and some weekends, since the first day I strolled into the office wearing a grey coat, looking more like a city slicker than I am today.

My coworkers at the St. Paul Journal have possibly been the best crew with which I’ve ever worked. It’s a very easygoing atmosphere at the paper, even if deadlines are tight. Visitors are always welcomed, pointed in the right direction, treated with respect and usually never leave without Mandy from the front desk wishing them a great day.

It’s true that the people you work with in some form eventually become your friends and I can’t think of 13 better people who I could have worked and become friends with since moving here in January. The publisher, editors, writers, front desk staff, sales reps and graphic design/production workers are all aces in my book and I’ll never forget them.

I would also like to give special thanks to people from the community that I’ve worked alongside during my time here including councillors from the Town and County of St. Paul, sports coaches, athletes, teachers, MLA Shayne Saskiw, Mayor Glenn Anderson, Reeve Steve Upham, MP Brian Storseth, local business owners and the countless volunteers for caring and devoting their time and efforts to taking care of the people and places they cherish.