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Gabe Salkin: Here’s to the crazy ones

Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.

None of this was supposed to happen.

Had you asked me freshman, sophomore or even junior year that one day I’d be writing this farewell piece in The Hatchet after leading the web team for an entire year, I’d laugh. I come from journalism, and I am not a formally trained web developer. But life, in so many ways, has the amazing capacity to surprise you.

I became the Hatchet’s senior web producer my senior year with almost no experience in the organization. The insane work ethic of my colleagues, ingrained into their minds through aggressive editors before them, was alien to me. I was expected to assimilate gracefully into this strange culture of inside jokes, protocols and rituals – but I had no idea what I was doing.

I’ll always remember my first prodo. I was completely unprepared for the scope of the tasks before me. Technical problems and the idiosyncrasies of our mish-mash website rolled on through the night. Dawn crept through the windows of the townhouse before I left. All I could think was, in the classic words of “Arrested Development’s” Bluth family: “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

Against my better judgement, I toiled on. By nature of my enthusiasm, ripe as it was at the time, I became the de facto leader of the web team. We assembled a motley crew of developers, producers and designers – insane characters and wildcards that have enriched my life with stories and have aged me with stress. Some stayed, some left in blazes of glory, some simply receded into obscurity. We were a bizarre set of people with a hodgepodge set of skills that made maybe two qualified developers between us all.

But we had ambitious plans. Perhaps, we were too ambitious at times – the new website and app are coming, I promise, and are awesome – but I was proud to see my team have grand ideas for how to improve our web presence. We pushed out some of the best collaborative pieces the paper has ever seen. I firmly believe that the web is the best thing that has ever happened to journalism, and I have been proud to move this institution forward.

Through all the late nights, the hair-pulling frustration of another technical problem, a server meltdown, pushback from editorial and next-day complaining to my roommates, I’ve been proud of the work we’ve done. Whether it was going code-blind custom building that infuriating SA guide, or the late-night fiasco of having to set up a database at 2 a.m. to finish the Best of Northwest, I think the ends justified the means.

Would I do it again? Honestly, I don’t know. It was hell at times, but it also gave me the opportunity to do something that I’ve always wanted: being “head nerd.” For the first time, I got to be the guy with a special set of skills most couldn’t understand. I finally got to code on a professional level, fulfilling a childhood dream. And that was worth it.

I was told at the beginning that I would be absorbed into this crazy family. I scoffed because I figured it was impossible for me to make such connections in only one year. The rest of the seniors have years of nostalgia to pull on from this organization that I can only live through vicariously. I have regrets about that and maybe if I joined sooner, I would feel this greater level of sadness as they do.

I’ll always have the memory of crashing a Zipcar in Ocean City, I guess?

But in my own way, I was assimilated. I was dragged kicking and screaming into this family. If Cory was Dad and Sarah was Mom, you guys thought of me as the Drunk Uncle. I can deal with that.

Many of you from Volume 110 have touched me in profound ways I can’t describe now. If nothing else, I have truly loved working with all of you and I’ll miss that the most. I can’t give a list of everyone who has made this year worth trudging through, but I’ll leave a few regards.

Pratheek and Maulik: My Indian bash brothers, I know I’ve had to be the angry father sometimes, but I will always be thankful for your efforts to make these dreams a reality. I’ve only ever pushed you to be more and give more because both of you are far smarter and more talented than me. Guide them, teach them, help them. We are the crazy ones.

Ally, Olivia, Emily and Culture (Karolina too, if you happen to read this): I hope you guys realize how awesome your job was in the Culture section. Your job was to be the definition of cool and all of you accomplished that every day. If I could, I would definitely have written for culture. Let me know if you ever need another bar review?

Zach, Diana, Kendall and Multimedia: I got my start with you guys making one and a half videos for Gabe Muller. How that qualified me for my position I’ll never know. You guys are true artists, and I only wish I had more time to make your set up as good as possible (ask for a Mac Pro). You’re welcome for Final Cut Pro X. Oh and Zach: fuck you.

Chloé, Mel, Brianna, Colleen and News Team: You guys have by far the hardest job. The unbelievable time you put in and absolutely insane work ethic you guys have has blown me away. You guys are simply relentless. You’ve had the burden of reporting on some truly difficult things this year and you have done so with poise and dignity. Chloé and Mel: We’ve got a brunch to eat. Brianna: I know you’ll do amazing things next year, I’m just sad I won’t be there to see behind the scenes.

Nick, Sean and Sports: You guys are just too fucking cool for me. Full stop. I don’t understand a word of what you write, so I guess that’s the feeling people have when I speak code?

Photo and Design: Without you there would simply be no paper. Words mean nothing without images and visuals. Thank you Design for helping to craft the future of our website. Photo: you guys take such amazing pictures, it’s just a shame they are in low resolution. The new design will change that.

Cory and Sarah: I’m sure I’ve caused you guys more anxiety than you would have liked this year. Sarah: We’ll probably kill each other one day. Cory: Had I known that on my second day of college that the guy I was eating Easy Mac with on my floor in Potomac would have been my future boss and one of my greatest leaders, I probably would have spent more time getting on your good side. Your vision enabled me to do my best work ever and follow my dreams. I’ve pushed back often but the only thing I wanted was to leave this place better than I found it. I hope I haven’t disappointed you.

And to everyone else who should probably get a shout-out while I have the opportunity:

Mom and Dad: I’ll never get another chance to publicize my gratefulness for your support these last four years, so here it is. I probably shouldn’t have picked GW and I know your wallets would have appreciated that, but you stood by me in everything. I can never quantify your importance, so I won’t even try.

Sam and Kyle: You guys are proof that this crazy thing lives on past the short time we have in college. Thanks for guiding me through D.C. and GW. Your marriage is legitimately the only thing I talk about in The Hatchet townhouse. I know it’s too soon, but all I’ll say is this: I’d love to be a drunk uncle once again.

To my bros in Beta: I’ve already said my piece but I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank you all once again. We’ve gone through hell this year but I wouldn’t trade these four years with you for anything. Damn proud, 209, ___Kai___.

None of this was supposed to happen. But I’m glad it did.

— 30 —

P.S., I’ve always hated Georgia font, so I changed it.

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