Today was my last day at work at the paper. Oh, I felt sad about it. It’s the people I’ll miss, not necessarily the work. I like editing work but it can become tedious, especially when the proofreading becomes habitual and there are imperfectly positioned apostrophes everywhere you look.
Print, blurred lines, fingers smelling of pencil shavings and ink, checking sources, checking facts, writing headlines that are not ambiguous, writing copy that remains objective, the only font worth bothering with is Courier New – these are the things I’ve learned. The thing that sticks with me the most however, is the realisation that everyone has a story of their own (even the people writing them!)
Ingrid writes mainly about local arts and crafts events. She wears horn-rimmed glasses and cardigans with teddy bears appliqued on the pockets. She eats a cheese and tomato sandwich every day for lunch while reading Quilting For Beginners. In her spare time she salsa dances with her boyfriend, Lloyd. She is a hot tamale, wearing glittering costumes in crimson and gold, baring her midriff, swirling around the floor in 6-inch heels.
Don covers economics and finance. His favourite saying is –
Today just isn’t my day.
He is as bleak as his economic forecasts. He likes to eat soup at least three times a week. His favourite kind is Cream of Mushroom. In his spare time he scuba dives. He actually swam with sharks. He has photographed a pod of dolphins. I call him Don Cousteau.
Antoinette is the best editor I have ever seen. Nothing gets past her. Her spellchecker is constantly set to stun. She doesn’t like sudden movements, people who say ‘Pardon my French’ or literary agents. Her boyfriend, Ross, is a bikie and she spends weekends strapped to the back of a Norton Commando, smoking Marlboro Lights and listening to Motorhead. Way cool!
The boss man demands attention, followed by more attention, and then even more attention as he claims his children only speak to him when they need money. He has a full set of rules for running a newspaper which he plans to licence (patent pending) to the local chamber of commerce so he can retire on the proceeds. He often finds his legal representation inadequate. In his spare time he builds bird houses for his neighbours.
Gloria, the tea lady, hasn’t had a cup of tea for over 10 years. She prefers coffee with a splash of hot milk. She wears aprons with daisies on them because they were her mother’s favourite flowers. She has 4 sons who each have their own restaurant. She eats out every night. In her spare time she dresses as Princess Leia and goes to Star Wars conventions.
Rachelle, the boss man’s niece, only likes to be photographed from the left. She giggles at big words that sound like they might be rude – like disaffiliated or enigmatic – and thinks everything Paris Hilton does is fabulous. In her spare time she rescues abandoned animals and cares for them (sometimes overnight) in a local animal shelter.
I will miss all these wonderful people, my friends in the city, my collection of beloved storytellers. But my contract is up and I must move on. So I bid you adieu. It has been a pleasure, indeed!