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Senior Farewell

Mark Witte | Monday, March 2, 2009

I have learned a number of important life lessons and reaped many rewards from my short tenure as a writer and assistant editor in the Scene department of The Observer. My first night flying solo on the job I spent nearly eight hours in the basement of South Dining Hall only to discover that I was not being paid by the hour, but by the page. For my work that evening, in reality, I netted less than $3 an hour. Thus I learned the importance of asking about little details, such as pay, before accepting a job from a smiling Tae Andrews. I worked much faster the next week.I have also learned that the only way to get out of the office at a decent hour is to treat the managing editors or the Editor-in-Chief with the utmost respect. If they’re in a bad mood, you’re in a bad mood because your pages sure aren’t getting checked. Thus, I have learned the importance of deference, because sometimes such decorum involves kissing up or speciously telling the Managing Editor that you are his friend or that Maryland is in fact an important state.Writing for The Observer helped nurture my desire and passion for movies. Posing as a film critic gave me a convenient excuse to skip off during the middle of the week to watch movies for free. Better yet, the job afforded me the opportunity to share with campus what I love about film, whether it was my awe at the breathtakingly haunting cinematography of “There Will Be Blood” or merely my obsession with the “The Big Lebowski.”    Even more rewarding were the invitations to do play reviews. I will never forget the dress rehearsal of “The Pillowman,” which I watched, nay, experienced. Alone with the actors on the intimate third floor of Washington Hall I remember being overwhelmed by the intensity of the dark theatrical tour de force carrying on before my eyes. Thank you Stephen, you were masterful.Writing for The Observer also allowed me to portray myself as a wimp. Last year I was convinced by the Scene Editor to do a piece about Bengal Bouts training. I took the opportunity to cry like a baby about the rigorous training endured by the boxers while shamelessly plugging the program’s altruistic purpose.Finally, I have learned that no one in the world is as patient as the Scene Editor. This I most certainly learned from experience as this year’s prodigal son. Thus, I would like to say thank you Analise. Thank you for all your hard work and most importantly for your never-ending patience. Thank you for not firing me when I misspelled your name. Thank you for not firing me after I missed a semester’s worth of meetings and thank you for not firing me despite my avoidance of the weekly budget like it was South Dining Hall’s pizza.       Thank you to the Graphics girl for adjusting to my odd hours. Thank you to the other Assistant Scene Editors for weathering my tardy articles or lack thereof. Thank you to Chris Hine and all the Ed Board members whose dedication to the paper is surpassed by none. And finally, thank you to Jay Fitzpatrick for inspiring me to join The Observer staff in the fall of 2007. You introduced and welcomed me to a whole new world and I am indebted (unfortunately) to you. I will soon say goodbye to the basement of South Dining Hall, its wondrous memories, profusion of expletives and late night Papa John’s. It will be with a heavy heart and an empty wallet that I walk away, but for those actually dedicated to the Scene department, my departure will be echoed by a good measure of “Good Riddance!”