When I first started my summer job at the Times, I walked in, uneasy of the horrors that might await me on my first day. But as I entered the building, a tall man with a kind face greeted me.
He shook my hand, and his calm voice eased my nerves. Unfortunately for our team at the Times, John’s last day is tomorrow.
For anyone who has never met John Pierce, I must ask — how? Sometimes I wonder if the man knows any and everyone in the District. Ask him to ID someone for a photo caption — he’s got it covered. Who oversees event X? He’ll tell you.
John is special. He’s one of those people that you talk to and know that everything is going to be OK. He’s got a very calm presence, and I could never picture him flustered.
John always likes to help. He’d give me a nudge on how I might want to write a story, who I might want to talk to, or simply what to do next.
Mornings at the office were always nice, as he’d pick out some small details from a story I had written, and he’d tell me why he liked it so much.
John has also got a sense of humour. He told me very early on that the Times is the only paper that prints in “HD,” meaning “humdinger.”
On my last day working with John, I had a good long chat with him. He told me he’s looking forward to retirement. He said it’s good for the paper that he’s leaving because of the new skills we’ll get from the next generation. He’s impressed with Darren Derendorf and what he has to offer. John also said it was just time to go.
“You know, Dan, there’s a shelf life for everything,” he said. “And I think I’ve reached it.”
In 42 years of working in radio and newsprint, he’s not once asked for a raise. He’s still gotten some, but he never asked. He said he always liked to put in a little more than he got out. That way, John had felt like he deserved what he earned.
He told me he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family, and that he just might come back and help deliver papers.
And although he wanted to go out quietly, I just can’t help but spread the word about this kind, calm, caring gentleman who’s leaving sales. Thanks for everything John. I hope that on Wednesdays, even from your cozy home, you can still get the good whiff of a humdinger.