Anita Pinto came to work at Flagpole 21 years ago, one job out of college. She has grown up with us—marrying our friend Troy Aubrey, and with him having our friends Peyton and Kiernan. Anita is now leaving Flagpole to try other opportunities, but we don’t think she will be leaving our Flagpole family, just extending it even further out into the community.
Anita has watched Flagpole grow up, too, and has helped us with our growing pains. When she got here, we were still in transition from a sort of harum-scarum, make-it-up-as-you-go-along operational model to a better structured and more coherent organization (still not perfect). To say the least, Anita is well organized and laser focused. She made an immediate impact on our advertising sales, and that has continued straight through this week. Unless you have tried it, you may not realize how tough it can be to sell ads in a local market inundated with other media. It takes a combination of toughness and friendliness, not to mention a close attention to detail. After you convince a business manager to run an ad, you’ve got to help them design it, and then you’ve got to show our Flagpole ad designers what you want and make sure they get it right and then make sure it’s what the advertiser wants and then make sure the right version gets into the paper. And you have to invoice the ad and collect for it, because, after all, you’re working mainly on commission, so that ad buys cereal for Kiernan and Peyton and Troy.
On top of her ad selling, design and invoicing, Anita has handled our bank deposits and credit card transactions and other record-keeping within the advertising department, where she works alongside her longtime friend and colleague, the other half of our advertising dynamic duo, Jessica Pritchard Mangum.
Anita is a typical Flagpole staff member in the fact that she has been here a long time—as have Alicia Nickles, Larry Tenner, Jessica Smith, Jessica Mangum, Blake Aued and I. Such longevity gives us a deep fund of institutional memory and concern for the wellbeing of Flagpole and the community we serve, leavened by the fresh energy of our relative newcomers like Cody Robinson, Chris McNeal, Zaria Gholston and Sam Lipkin—not to mention Anita’s replacement coming up.
Anita is typical of our Flagpole staff in another way. Although she works here as an ad rep—with all those pressures and responsibilities—she is fiercely devoted to making Flagpole the best publication it can be. She cares about the quality of our stories, photographs and covers. She is constantly bringing tips, story ideas, calendar listings and business news. She’s not just selling ads, she’s selling Flagpole.
Mainly, though, we will just miss Anita—always the first at work (until the pandemic messed that up), always with a cheery wave (even with a painfully broken finger that stopped a line-drive hit at second base in her other life as a star softball player and coach), and always saying exactly what she thinks, so that you always know where you stand with her and can relax with her and know that she’s your friend, because if she weren’t, she’d be the first to tell you.
In its 34 years in business, Flagpole has had a lot of people work here who have become friends and have remained friends while moving on to other endeavors, and we know it will be the same with Anita. We will fill her job with a new friend, but we cannot replace Anita. She is sui generis, which Merriam-Webster defines as “in a class by herself.” With her hard work and hard play, her absolute devotion to her family and to her friends (and to Flagpole), her quirky, spot-on sense of style, her tasteful tattoos, her multicolored hairdo and her determination to succeed, there is only one Anita Aubrey, and we’re all better off for knowing her.
I hesitate to mention this personal note for fear that it could be taken the wrong way. It has long been Flagpole’s custom, until curtailed by the pandemic, to celebrate each staff member’s birthday with a meal and a cake and a card that we all sign. A long time ago on her birthday, the card chosen for Anita had some kind of puppy dog theme, and on the spur of the moment, trying to be funny, I signed Anita’s card, “Happy Birthday, Bitch!” You may not think that is funny, but Anita found it hilarious, and it has become a continued back-and-forth on both our birthdays. I hope that explains why I cannot help saying now to Anita, “You’re the best: Love you, Bitch!”
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