Column: With gratitude and warmth, goodbye

By Shane Tolentino, Senior Graphic Designer

Shane Tolentino

I’ve seen plenty of people come and go during my 20 months at the Chronicle. From regular staffers popping in and leaving as opportunities arise and situations change, to fellow members of management embarking on new journeys as they graduate from Columbia—the routine of seeing people pitch, write and then read their goodbye columns is familiar to me.

I never believed that I would write one myself.

I create images. I feel more comfortable drawing something out or using my hands to gesture in the air when I can’t get something across in words the right way. Editors and staffers have seen me tape sheets of paper to the walls of the office to scribble out my ideas for front covers with gusto. My desk is covered in drawings and quotes, and I feel safer hiding behind lines, textures and colors that can be left up to interpretation.

Words have a permanence and finality that intimidate me to the point where I can only admire them from afar. But my time here has come to an end, and with disbelief and slight anxiety, I must take on this routine as others have done before me.

There is an energy present in our office, one that speaks of years of camaraderie building upon a legacy of all the editors and staff members that have come before us, and it reverberates in the walls. I always believed that as a graphic designer I would never be a part of this; as a non-journalism major, I had no idea where the process of creating a newspaper even began.

The process of writing a story was—and somewhat still is— a mystery to me. However, I was mistaken to believe that I would never experience this for myself. I am here today as a product of several management teams’ constant support and encouragement.

The work has never been easy, but it was always rewarding. Every rejected thumbnail, revision and illustration has developed a tenacity and work ethic that I know will take me far. I’ve learned to be flexible and pivot when issues arise and what it means to truly work as a member of a team.

Being on a team is not just temporary cooperation between a group of people. It’s knowing when to go the extra mile for each other and get someone’s exact coffee order when they have bad days. It’s knowing that it’s ok to challenge each other, even if it means extra work for all of us, because we have each other’s best intentions at heart.

But most of all, it’s empathy, kindness and gratitude for each other’s presence because we know that we are a stronger team together than when we are apart.

I have too many people to thank for the hilarious quote wall that comes back semester after semester, for the mid-production day ice cream runs and for indulging me in my attempt to cover the office with plants—all of them are thriving except for the fern, which is dead.

My love and appreciation will stretch across time and space, across different workplaces and in the random places in life where I will see something that will remind me of you. I am forever grateful to have been a part of your team.