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Gone fishing … almost

Ryan Hoffman
rhoffman@citizentelegram.com

When this “hits stands” it will be Aug. 6. The next day, Aug. 7, will mark four months into my tenure at The Citizen Telegram. Where did the time go?

It was late March when I made the three-hour drive from Salida to meet with my soon-to-be new bosses in Glenwood Springs. With one of my coworkers in Salida losing his job at that exact time because he told our boss four months earlier that he was looking to go elsewhere, my trip to Glenwood was truly terrifying and I can remember it vividly.

If Rifle didn’t work out then I certainly still wanted to keep my job in Salida. It would have been an especially long drive back to move into my parents’ basement.

The meeting went well and I left Glenwood Springs with an actual offer. I felt anxious but confident, until I realized I had budgeted my time poorly and made it back to Salida just before 6:30 p.m. I was supposed to be at a party with my coworkers at 5 p.m., and I was supposed to bring the ribs we all would eat for dinner. It wasn’t until I hit Minturn on the drive back that I realized I forgot to put the ribs in the slow cooker.

It’s been one heck of a ride since that day when I learned — through sheer luck — how to cook two slabs of ribs in two hours and still have them be eatable.

Since then, I’ve received a crash course in the oil and gas industry; I’ve observed the ramifications of hitching your entire community to that volatile horse, the oil and gas industry; I’ve talked with people who commute an hour or more because living is too expensive where they work, and work ain’t available where they live; I’ve heard stories of triumph, the degree is subjective, despite life events that would leave me shaking and despondent.

There’s another significant, at least in my life, anniversary approaching. On Aug. 12, 2014, I loaded up all my belongings into a 2000 Toyota Camry and headed west.

I have not been home since, and I miss my mother, my brothers and my father — even though he was in Salida this spring when I answered the phone call asking if I’d like to come to Rifle. I also miss my friends, many of whom I thought would disappear with the distance and time.

At 6:30 a.m. Aug. 9, I will board a flight and make the trip back home to Cincinnati. Acknowledging there is really no such thing as time off, I will still have my cellphone and be available by email, but chances are unless you’re reporting a dead call girl, or guy, in the back of some public official’s car, I’m either going to forward it on to the good people in Glenwood or wait until I get back.

This trip is exciting for several reasons. Aside from seeing my family, I’m looking forward to having a couple of days free of work — excluding Christmas and New Year’s Day, I have not had one of those since I came out to Colorado.

I also hope to gain a somewhat accurate measurement of the mood in my home city. I was much too young and shielded by life in the suburbs to have any substantial memory of the riots that erupted after the killing of an unarmed black man by a Cincinnati cop in 2001.

The city has come a long way since then, which is why I’m curious to try and learn how it is dealing with this most recent tragedy — the killing of another unarmed black man, Sam DuBose, by a former University of Cincinnati police officer, Ray Tensing. The community-oriented infrastructure erected after the 2001 riots appears to be holding firm in the wake of DuBose’s killing, according to media reports.

Even if that is true, this is certainly a more tense time than when I left a year ago. Just how tense? I hope to find out.

Before I do any of this, though, I’m going to have to overcome my fear of flying, which is interesting because I did not know I had a fear of flying. The truth is, I have not been on an airplane since I was in the fourth grade. From what I can remember, which is not much, I had no problem flying. In fact, if I remember correctly, I found it exciting.

Something clearly changed since then, because I found myself at the onset of a panic attack after purchasing my tickets for this trip. “Humans are not supposed to be that high in the sky,” I said to myself, with a couple of expletives sprinkled in the real version.

I’ve tried to rationalize since, and I think I’ve made some progress. I realize that my excitement will overcome any jitters, even the last-second ones, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a long car ride to Denver. All I can do at this point is hope there’s a bar at DIA open at 6 a.m. on a Sunday. Cheers.

Ryan Hoffman is editor of The Citizen Telegram. He can be reached at 970-685-2103 or rhoffman@citizentelegram.com.


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