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Katie Konrad's last day at the Journal-Express is Monday, April 30.

“It’s not in my job description!”

A couple of times every day, I fight the temptation to mutter those words. Most folks probably feel that same strain.

And a couple of times every day, a co-worker brings pages I’ve printed on our office copier to my desk. It’s not in her job description. It’s just nice.

She’s gonna stop being nice - around here, at least.

Katie Konrad is leaving the Journal-Express and Marion County Reminder after 18 years. She’s our marketing consultant, which is a fancy title for ad sales — which is our lifeblood. Newspapers shrivel up without folks like Katie out on the streets encouraging people to invest in their businesses — and in ours.

We’ll hire someone to replace Katie. They’ll meet many key requirements, and we’ll support them as they get up-and-running. But we’ll be hard-pressed to replace Katie’s unique kind of kindness.

It starts with us, her five co-workers. Katie is a great listener. She not only gets to know our stories but she cares about us. She asked me a question a few weeks back about my kids, and it dawned on me that I know very little about her family. I’d had ample opportunity, over hundreds of copy deliveries over seven months, to ask. I finally did and learned a lot, until her dang phone rang.

Katie’s same care extended to that caller and every other. Most customers won’t know it from Katie, at least based on what I hear through our thin walls, but selling ads can get pretty frustrating. Some clients expect a little ad to say a lot. Others need to be coaxed into spending more for a more effective message. Still others balk, thinking social media or word-of-mouth will catch enough eyes and ears. Katie’s helpful, hopeful voice never wavers, at least ‘til after the call ends.

It’s her work ethic and persistence that make Katie priceless. I was working pretty hard myself one day when a co-worker flat-out said that Katie has the hardest job of all around here. I didn’t argue — not because I was too busy, but because it was true. Her job demands long hours and resilience in the face of rejection. She’s got thick skin to go with her soft heart.

Blood likely will rush to Katie’s cheeks as she reads these words for the first time in the paper, just like you do. I sprinted to the printer to make sure she didn’t bring me the proof of this page. Her humility might have led to homicide had she seen this column prior to publication. Instead, I’ll risk asking forgiveness and likely receive it. If I don’t, I’m sure Katie will sell my family a nice obituary on her way out the door.

Folks like Katie deserve our appreciation and inspire us to be better people. Kindness, patience, persistence, humility and good humor might not show up on anyone’s job description, but they’re all part of being a good human being.

Pat Finan is the managing editor of the Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155 or via email at pfinan@journalexpress.net.

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