Weekend in Greensboro

Last weekend I went back to the Triad for an old friend’s wedding shower. Carla and I worked together at the ill-fated Triad Style magazine before it crashed and burned in 2003. She stayed on as a graphic designer with the daily newspaper that owned it, and has worked there since.

This company boasted of never, ever laying anyone off, despite tough times in the newspaper biz, in all their long history. So, at the end of Triad Style, they offered to find me a new position at the big daily newspaper. After some research, they took me into the HR office to tell me about the exciting possibilities in my new position: emptying the change from newspaper boxes around the city.

As intriguing as that “opportunity” sounded, I declined. And I let them know that it would have been kinder to lay me off than attempt to demote me from associate editor to change-emptier. Hmph.

So the wedding shower was full of people who work with Carla at the paper, and they had horror stories about the past month at work. Guess what happened to 40 or so people, including a lot of reporters and photographers? They were laid off.

And the way they did it! One Thursday afternoon, the publisher sent an email out that said something like, “We have to lay some people off, and it’s happening right now.” (I guess when you’re doing that in a newsroom, there can’t be a lot of advance notice.) As soon as everyone had read and absorbed the email, they looked up to see people getting tapped on the shoulder and led into the auditorium. There the unfortunate employees got an official apology, and a team of security guards led them all to their cars. They couldn’t even clean out their desks or say goodbye to anyone. One reporter had moved from out of state to take a job there — she started on Monday and was laid off on Thursday. Cold!

Anyway, Carla’s job is safe. I’m so glad I left there, though! It forced me to move back to Fayetteville, which led me to Patrick and a very happy life. I do cringe when I see those newspaper boxes, though.

After the shower, I met up with my old roommate Mike for a night out in Greensboro, just like old times. We were both astonished at how different everything is. We made our way in from opposite sides of the city, and stayed on our cell phones, yelling, “Oh my God, there’s a Costco on Wendover!” “What is this big building at UNCG?!” “Is that the deli?!”

Our old apartment is still intact, but the house where Mike was living when we met was torn down and replaced with an H&R Block. The Rockola where we worked our fingers to the bone is a drive-through bakery! And our beloved Babylon, where we danced ourselves silly, is now a burrito restaurant. It ain’t right.

Downtown is booming, though! It used to be a bit of a ghost town, but now it’s got loads of restaurants, shops, a huge park and a giant baseball diamond. I wish I had taken more pictures there before, because now I can’t remember what any of those spaces used to be.

After taking it all in, we ate at Natty Greene’s (the former Paisley Pineapple) and bored the waitress with our memories. Sigh.

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