Back in the day - yes, kids, before the Internet, telephones that took photos and remote control TVs - I used to sit in my college dorm room with my friends and we'd laugh hysterically as we listened to a four-man comedy troupe called the Firesign Theatre.
This was also before CDs, let alone MP3 players, so we enjoyed their antics and word play, often presented as old-time radio shows, on those big, vinyl record albums. We had grand old times.
But one of their funniest bits, at least to me, was very short. A man asks an old timer "Where am I?" and the old timer answers in one of those classic old time voices, "Well, you can't get there from here."
Still makes me chuckle. Totally silly and doesn't make a bit of sense. But when you're college age and around your friends, your sense of humor just seems to be more open, if you will.
At any rate, that little bit comes to mind when I think about the pending retirement of Rifle City Manager John Hier. I have no idea if he's ever heard of The Firesign Theatre. Or if he has, whether he thinks they're funny.
As you read on the front page of today's Telegram, Hier is retiring later this year, ending a 29-year career in municipal government administration. Those last three words - municipal government administration - don't sound like they would lead one to a great many moments of hilarity. Maybe they do, I'm not sure. Doesn't really matter.
Anyway, Hier is retiring to return to his boyhood, in a way, since he'll be living near the old family farm in Lincoln, Neb. Taking his life full circle, seemingly getting there from here and perhaps proving that imaginary old-timer wrong.
It's been nine years since someone other than Hier was in charge at City Hall. Just like last year, when Daryl Meisner retired after a much longer time as Rifle police chief, 22 years. Meisner's entire 39-year law enforcement career was with the Rifle police department.
Those two managers held perhaps the two most visible positions in the city, bringing years, even decades, of experience.
Now we have John Dyer, not an inexperienced lawman by any means, as the city's top cop, and he seems to have taken the reins without any major hurdles. We can hope the same for Hier's successor.
Looking in house for a qualified manager seems a prudent step, too. It could save the city some money on advertising the position and might allow some talented staffer to continue to work where he or she either grew up or lives.
I was also struck by a conversation I had this week about how it seems like more and more adults are moving back to where they grew up to help take care of their parents. Completing the circle and getting there from here, too.
I'll let someone much better with words try to sum things up for me, and in a more realistic and serious, thought-provoking way than The Firesign Theatre could ever do:
"But why had he always felt so strongly the magnetic pull of home, why had he thought so much about it and remembered it with such blazing accuracy, if it did not matter, and if this little town, and the immortal hills around it, was not the only home he had on earth? He did not know. All that he knew was that the years flow by like water, and that one day men come home again."
- Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.