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Imagine a man. His limbs droop and ache with fatigue.  His brow drips with sweat.  His glasses are fogged and there is dried blood beneath his nose. Do you see him? Good, because that man is Ben Frederick, last year’s humor columnist.  I’m here to inform you that he has left you.  He is not coming back.  He has formally and without complaint relinquished his title to me.

Part of the purpose of this first article is to dissuade any rumors that have sprung up regarding Ben’s absence, which your creative and bored selves have been incessantly spreading around campus.  Ben did not leave to become a full-time underwear model.  He is not the mandolin player for a major bluegrass-pop fusion band. It’s not so illustrious as all that. The humble man simply boarded a plane with a twinkle in his eye and a dream in his pocket, muttered something like: “I believe it’s time to try my hand at industrial vacuum sales.” And away he went.

I’m also writing to answer any of your questions about my credentials.  You probably want to know why I’ve been chosen to fill Ben’s large shoes. Well, let me assure you the Pilot doesn’t hire just anyone for this sort of thing. I was put through a grueling interview and a thorough background check. There was a full month of training on how to write well, how to get people to leak sensitive information during interviews, and what to do when the printer bursts into flames. The fact that I was able to survive all of this and come out with my current job is pretty spectacular. I’m obviously overqualified.

My editors suggested that I start off by planting the seed of trust in this relationship. I’ll start by informing you of my qualifications and previous work experience. I have many skills, most of which were acquired during my early days as a payment recovery agent for Toys “R” Us.  Since then, I have spent most of my time as a freelance travel columnist for Antiques Trader Weekly and Barely Legal Magazine. I am a connoisseur of stout ales and all things kosher. I can kill a man 539 ways with my left elbow alone, and Grace Kelly could learn a thing or two from how ridiculously classy I am.  If you want my full resume with qualities and list of achievements, you can e-mail me. I’ll fax it to you.

I hope that this article has been helpful in quelling any feelings of abandonment, confusion, or anxiety.  Change is difficult, but I’m prepared to work through it with you. I would just like to end by expressing how happy I am to be writing this column.  It has been a longtime dream of mine to write for the Pilot.  I have a nice office with a view. My mini fridge is stocked with burritos and leftover chili.  I have a steamy office romance with the guy in the mailroom. I’m ready to make a name for myself here – one that doesn’t include adjectives like “smelly” or “puke-y” and isn’t delivered in the sing-song voice of children as they push me in mud and put glue in my hair. Last year was rough.

Things are finally looking up for me, though. I’m ready to be counted among the greats.