Friday, February 5, 2010

The Trudge

When I was in high school, I had a job. I worked for the local paper.

This was back in the infancy of electronic typesetting -- the computer typesetter was archaic by today's standards, actually printing a measured column onto photosensitive paper you had to develop in a photo lab. Then you cut it out, ran it through the hot wax machine, and pasted it up by hand onto a "board," a sheet of graph paper the exact size of a newspaper page. Each page of the paper had to be done individually.

When I was done with this, I would then go back to the computer, re-rig it by hand to do larger print in a different font (Souvenir, as I recall) in 48 point, 72 point... whatever a given title required. I would then type in the TITLES of all the news stories, develop them, wax them, cut and paste them, and move on to the next board.

It was a small town, and it was a weekly paper, and we came out on Wednesday. This meant we worked however long it took to put the paper to bed on Monday night. And, of course, since I was in high school, I had to be at school by eight on Tuesday morning. We usually didn't finish until after midnight, which meant Tuesday was generally not a real good day for me.

But I digress. The last thing I generally did was to make the titles for the stories, right? I'd type 'em, develop 'em, cut and paste 'em, and stick 'em up there. Naturally, there'd be a typo or two in there somewhere, so I'd have to go back and do one or two titles over again (this machine had no screen, so I was typing blind, you see).

Type, develop, wax, cut, paste, stick. Board finished. Take it down, put it with the "done" boards, and get to work on the next board. The rest of the crew would bring boards in and put them behind the board I was working on on the Compugraphic, so when I pulled a board down, there would be another board behind it. When I ran out of boards, I could leave for the night.

I soon learned it was not a good idea to go to bed as soon as I got home.

You see... when you've been feverishly working at a task half the night, and then you IMMEDIATELY go to bed... you dream about that same task.

In my dreams, I would type, develop, wax, cut, paste, correct typos, type, develop, wax, cut, paste, and finally finish the last board, and take it down...

...and there'd be another board behind it. I'd get to work. I'd type, develop, wax, cut, paste, correct, type, develop, wax, cut, paste, and finish the last board, and take it down...

...and there'd be another board behind it. I would do this all night in my dreams and wake up exhausted. I'd been at work literally all night.

To this day, Tuesday is not my favorite day of the week...

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