Friday, December 21, 2012

Celebrating Don

Don, a machinist at the Knoxville News Sentinel who has crawled inside or fixed just about every machine in that building (including the press), is retiring at the end of this month after 40 years of service.

I'm excited for Don because I know he's looked forward to this for a long time. But it's a little bittersweet for me. I'll miss seeing him when next I sneak into the building to have lunch with Jim, his fellow machinist and my friend, and visit other press guys.

I am so fortunate to have known Don and I'm blessed to be his friend. (And not just because he fed me a lot. Ha!)

I first met Don and Jim a few years ago in the News Sentinel's exercise room. We, along with our friend Mark, became the four-person crew who worked out every Tuesday and Thursday between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

Don and Jim went on to organize regular breakfasts in the machine shop, which was the envy of other departments. But they weren't stingy. They invited the building to partake. The machine shop -- located in the bowels of the building -- became the gathering place for many employees.

I loved machine shop breakfasts because the News Sentinel building smelled like eggs, pancakes, sausage and bacon all day. Even after I left the paper 16 months ago for a job at the University of Tennessee, Jim would still text me about the breakfasts so I could stop by on my way to work.

I enjoyed hanging out in the machine shop because it gave me the chance to spend time with Don and Jim.

I'm thankful that my eight and a half years at the News Sentinel gave me the opportunity to develop sweet friendships with amazing people. Don was one of those people.

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