Getting the hell out of Dodge
New York City at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning is sobering. Subway cars screech along tracks, commuters power-walk to work, someone somewhere feeds pigeons on a busy sidewalk, and the HuffPost newsroom is short ten people.
Two hours away at a cabin deep in the forests of the Pennsylvania Poconos, the HuffPost Crime/Weird News team faces a different morning work routine.
Executive Editor Buck Wolf has a small, cozy fire already crackling in the living room. Heat fills the cabin and flames dance while fingers type a little less furiously than usual as his team reports the news confidently from the comfort of 70s-inspired couches. Coffee is poured and banana-nut waffles are generously passed out.
We put on some music while we work: some folksy tunes and jazzy licks. Occasionally, Dr. Dre and Metallica sneak in. We forget about online group chats and talk -- face-to-face rather than into the glow of a computer -- about stories, with lightning efficiency.
We get boisterous at breaks, even at HuffPost. Today, we take a second to reflect on the long-suffering co-workers who sit near us and complain about our high-decibel crosstalk. Today is something of a Third Metric day of peace for them, too.
As a light rain storm over the lake in the backyard begins to clear and stories are filed, the team takes a moment to marvel at the beauty of three deer loitering in the grass, looking at us unimpressed. For the team, it’s a welcome sight -- something not seen in the urban jungle of New York.
We respond to e-mails, write-up the day’s biggest stories, and the strange stuff that pleases our weird news fans. Cognac somehow finds its way into our coffee. Stresses slip away. We are transported.
This is Third Metric, Crime and Weird style. (Story continues below)
Finding meaning in the little things
Third Metric means different things to different people, but the end goal is the same: find meaning in things other than money and power.
For us, it’s about human connections. And nothing says team-bonding like kayaking at sunset and getting a little whiskey drunk after a hard-day’s work.
As we get a bit buzzed and enjoy the magic hour, the team takes time for some personal reflection. The hot tub simmers while people take turns dipping in. Cathartic conversations about music, politics, relationships and life come bubbling up. Buck Wolf and resident-badass for Crime and Weird, David Lohr, find meditation in cleaning squirrel-hunting guns. In the middle of the lake on kayaks, we sip Coronas and watch deer sleeping by the docks before going for a swim. Even far out on the water, music can still be heard from the cabin. The neighbors don’t seem to mind.
When it gets dark, we build a fire and cook steaks and potatoes. We drink and talk and half-jokingly imagine lodging at the cabin for another few weeks. Winding down for the night, the team gathers round the television to watch One Million Years B.C., a 60s caveman fantasy flick starring bombshell Raquel Welch. It’s collectively decided the movie is terrible, despite the fur bikinis, but the team keeps watching, enjoying each other’s digs and commentary throughout the film.
As the team turns in for bed around midnight, I collapse on an air mattress. Associate Editor Andy Campbell, thought to be fast asleep, rolls over and says very matter-of-factly: “Love you.”
— Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell) August 27, 2013
“Are you happy? What can I get you?”
The following morning everyone is up at 7:30 a.m., laptops open and ready for work. Buck passes out coffee, a bit perplexed. The night before he had told the team work could be done in shifts, with a few people getting to sleep in before taking over in the afternoon.
“Why is everyone up?” he asks.
The answer is simple: We’re in it together.
The team reports on the important stories of the day and takes pride in its work. Naps are taken in rotation to keep everyone alert and motivated. The patio door stays open, and it feels nice to trade recycled air conditioning for the cool breeze of a summer morning.
As the sun lowers in the sky, Buck makes daiquiris with fresh bananas and blueberries. The alcohol content is deceiving and the fruity drinks are finished fast.
“Are you happy?” Buck asks.
The answer is a resounding yes.
“What can I get you?”
The answer is nothing.
Night settles in and stars otherwise hidden in the bright lights of Manhattan appear. While most of the team trades out music choices and drinks by the fire, Associate Editor Ethan Fedida takes charge of the grill, meditating in the smoky smell of the brats sausages, burgers and fresh corn on the cob he cooks.
As the feast ends and stories are traded, Buck takes out a harmonica and begins to play. Cigars are passed around.
Our bellies and hearts are full. Our minds are clear(ish). We bond in the glow of a slowly dying fire, ready to take our new-found appreciation of rest and team-bonding back home to New York.