I come home to a message on my answering machine from the big boss at the paper. I figure I must be in trouble…again. After all, I did write about the company picnic, but that was so long ago. …
I come home to a message on my answering machine from the big boss at the paper. I figure I must be in trouble…again. After all, I did write about the company picnic, but that was so long ago. When I return the call, to my surprise, I’m asked if I’d like to work part-time as a copy editor.
“What? Do you really think I can do that?” I say in a panicked tone.
Rule number one: If you want a job, act confident even when you have extreme doubts about yourself.
Despite breaking the first rule, I’m invited to interview.
At the interview, I’m told that the paper uses something called InDesign, a computer program that lays everything out. I come from the ‘brown line’ days of old; so old that when I google the term there’s everything from brown lines on teeth to avocados and nothing about the olden days of laying out a magazine or newspaper. I’ll just say, from memory, it was a mechanical sort-of paste-up process and, like the brontosaurus, it once existed.
Meeting with the boss is so pleasant, more like a social than a job interview, that I forget why I’m there. To do this job, I’m told, I’d have to come to the office. I couldn’t do it at home because I don’t have InDesign and even though I’d like to own the program, it’s pricey. There’s absolutely no reason for the paper to pay for such a thing on my behalf. Who knows how I might abuse the privilege. I might write a book.
During the interview, I discover that the paper is like a bakery where people start work at the ungodly hour of 7am. Okay, maybe not exactly like a bakery because bakers typically begin at around 4am, but it’s all the same to me. The boss dangles a carrot. “You could start at eight.”
I don’t actually say this but each day, I have to force myself to leave the house at around 2pm. In this way I can get the requisite 20 minutes of sunlight. That’s why you see me walking about town, my hands clasped behind my back like Columbo. (I think you know by now that I’m obsessed with Columbo). Does the period go inside or outside of parenthesis? I don’t remember. I don’t think I ever knew. The real editors will fix it.
I’d love to be in a social atmosphere for a few hours a week, but what’s it worth? It occurs to me to negotiate: get the paper to use the M and N dashes I so love, and they don’t, as part of my salary. Or ask the boss to dangle some carrot cake instead of a mere carrot.
The big boss asks what I do during the day. I’m dumbfounded. No one’s ever asked that before and for me it’s really hard to explain. My husband would tell him that to answer it, I might need to know what day it is. “She doesn’t bother with those details,” he’d warn. I’m inclined to tell the boss I do nothing, but that would make me appear rich, which I’m not.
It takes a moment to reflect and realize that for my entire adult life I’ve cobbled together a living in a myriad of ways born of desperation. I begin a verbal tangent, a rambling. The interview ends. I thank the big boss and on my way out, tell him how much I appreciate the position I already have. And then I promise to refer someone else to the job.
RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here