My law enforcement career lasted 30 years in total, I’ve only owned three houses in my life, my last vehicle had almost 200,000 miles at trade-in, and my local newspaper outdoor column has run continually since 1989.
My history here at S.W.A.T. shows similar longevity. According to my records, the first Street Smarts column was printed in the summer of 2001 and has appeared every single month since that time. I share this background information to explain that, while I enjoy new experiences and situations, I also dearly love to get in a groove and stay with a good thing once I find it. All in all, that personality trait has served me pretty darn well.
Once I find something that is working, I stick to it, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I hate to announce that this is my last column.
But don’t cry for me, Argentina, because the choice was mine and the reason is wonderful, at least for Your Humble Servant. Let me explain.
A few months ago, I was sitting in my home office, committing minor acts of journalism and otherwise minding my own business, when the phone rang. It was opportunity calling from a different area code. After a brief howdy-do, I was offered the job of editor-in-chief of a competing national gun magazine. Just like that. No employment applications, resumes, interviews, or negotiations; if I wanted the job, it was mine.
It actually took a little longer to finalize the arrangements and get all the necessary approval from the corporation, but within two weeks, I ascended the throne in my own little corner of the journalism world.
That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen, especially to freelance writers. Especially to this freelance writer!
It was like I had won the lottery, only better. They handed me the keys to a respected firearms publication, a staff of great people, incredible bosses, a credit card, a nice salary, and all the opportunity in the world to sink or swim on my own merits. The intangible perks are even better and I’m not being wholly facetious when I tell people, “I’m the happiest girl in the whole USA” (shout out to singer Donna Fargo).
What’s the downside to this new opportunity? Simple: It’s not considered good form for the editor of one magazine to be an ace columnist for a competing publication. It would be like the president of Ford Motor Company moonlighting on the assembly line at Chevrolet.
To the credit of S.W.A.T. Editor Denny Hansen, he didn’t have a problem with my staying and, frankly, my new employer didn’t specifically tell me that I couldn’t, but common sense dictated I should gracefully bow out here. But I hate to do it.
This sea-change comes at a good time for me. For several years I’ve said that Street Smarts has gotten to be a little bit of a challenge because I’ve told most of my good jokes, shared many of my hairiest experiences, and generally beat the deceased equine thoroughly.
Frankly, in my long-held, somewhat-experienced and thoroughly case-hardened opinion, the entire basis of Street Smarts is very simple: remain alert and carry a gun.
Do the first and you’ll avoid 99.9% of problems. Do the second and the remaining ones are wholly survivable. I realize the matter is more complicated than that, but it truly does boil down to being aware and prepared. Those are great words to live by, but after many years of sharing the same message, it grows a little tiresome for the writer.
My greatest hope is this column has helped keep good people safe. In that regard, I got a note from a reader about a year ago and, without sharing the details, I was amazed to hear how something I had written literally saved a life. I’ve had plenty of great experiences and uplifting moments, but to receive such an email is, as they say, priceless.
For that opportunity, and countless others great and small, I can only say a humble “thanks” to S.W.A.T.
This magazine, and more specifically Mr. Hansen, “put me on the map” in the gun business, and I don’t take such things lightly or forget easily. Denny has helped, cajoled, wheedled, harangued, encouraged, and occasionally pistol-whipped his Street Smarts columnist into producing a monthly dissertation that folks will actually read.
Even better, along the way we’ve become friends. I’ve got no reason to kiss up at this point, but when it comes to the nicest people in the gun writing business, Denny is without a doubt Tier One.
There is a list of other folks to whom I could express gratitude, but it might bore the reader and I’d probably forget somebody important and be horribly embarrassed. I will single out Louis Awerbuck for getting me drafted here as a columnist. That was another moment when a life-changing opportunity struck out of the blue. For that, Louis, wherever you are, thanks.
The last thanks go to you, one of my two regular readers. Over these many years, we’ve had a semi-weird print-based relationship, but it’s been really fun, at least for me. I didn’t knock it out of the park with every column, but hopefully most of them made you think, forced a smile, or maybe both.
And with that, I’m done. God Bless.