Not always easy to say bye

We’ve lost one of our own. And that’s never easy.

Beth Long, our office manager and one of the original six employees of the Coastal Point, has decided to step back from the hectic pace of newspaper land and step into the life of leisure with her husband and new grandchild (I’m certain her son and daughter-in-law fit in there somewhere and, to be honest, I never really heard her mention her husband at all. But I do know she wants to hang out with that beautiful granddaughter of hers ... and she really likes her dog.)

Regardless, the void Beth leaves behind is not easily measured by numbers or work that must be managed. No, no, it is a legacy of dealing with people, and her innate ability to hit just the right buttons when faced with all extremes of the human condition, that is not easily replaced.

For instance, allow me to go over one of my most fond memories of an interaction I once had with Beth:

“Hey, whatsyourname,” I began, with my standard measure of professionalism and class. “Do you mind not clipping your toenails at the front desk? Do you realize that’s the first thing people see when they come in to conduct business at our paper?”

And then, yes, I remember as if it were yesterday, she looked at me with those big eyes, dropped the pair of scissors she was using on aforementioned toenails, and spoke to me in her confident, calming manner.

“Bite me,” she said, and continued about her business as if she didn’t have a care in the world.

Good times, indeed.

Actually, that might not have happened at all. I sometimes drift off into these strange little episodes where things that didn’t really occur did in my mind, and things that actually transpired only a few short moments before ...

But I digress.

Where were we? Oh yes, Beth. How does one label one who brought so much to the table? One moment she’s handling circulation issues, the next minute she’s doing orders for office supplies, then she’s nodding her head when in conversation with Susan Argo, acting like she’s genuinely interested in something Argo had to say.

It was a constant juggling act with Beth for the past year-and-a-half, from keeping the office running smoothly to politely informing Susan Lyons that the car keys she had been tearing apart the office in search of were in her hand.

She is a true Rennaisance woman.

Now, we’re extremely pleased that Monica Fleming, previously our expert in charge of our Web site, will be filling Beth’s shoes. Monica is smart, organized and liked by everyone in the office. We’re also blessed to have Jane Johnson on board now, handling the strenuous duties of our classified pages.

But who, I submit, is going to fill my personal loss? Who is going to be able to listen to me complain about governmental decisions, the woeful summer performance of my Baltimore Orioles and the strange scales growing on my upper back?

I seriously doubt Jane will. And I’m pretty sure Monica would throw a stapler at me if I started.

Why doesn’t anybody think about the impact on me when they make these decisions? How did her family take precedence over me?

Oh. Right.

When considering her decision, I guess she’s doing what’s best for her and her family. I mean, as the first recipient of the Coastal Point retirement plan, Beth walks out of here with four thumbtacks, two cups of ice and a “Kick Me” sign, courtesy of Shaun Lambert, who never tires of sticking one on the back of Sam Harvey before he goes off to town council meetings.

Who could pass up those fortunes?

Well, I guess Beth couldn’t, and I guess I wish her well in her new adventures in life. Actually, I wish Beth many things in this new chapter of her biography:

I wish her many more conversations with Carolyn Fitz on a personal level, because I always got a kick out of seeing those two share a joke — even if it was inevitably about me.

I wish her hours of holding her granddaughter, and hours of holding her husband, Dave, after too many Maker’s Marks when he’s out with me talking about the stupid Orioles.

I wish her no more allergy problems. This is your time, Beth. You shouldn’t have to put up with that garbage anymore.

I wish her a private consultation with her hero, Dr. Phil, and an evening of enjoying her beloved Eagles finally win a Super Bowl (Note: Just one evening. I do have my breaking point.)

I wish her continued friendship with our editor, because he’s sure going to miss her.