There is a spider plant on the right far corner of her plain brown laminate topped desk, a well used Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary open at her right elbow on the side credenza, a full 2012 year at a glance calendar push pinned on the left gray carpeted cubicle wall and a pack of green fine point markers beside excess paper clips in the desk drawer. Reference copy is on the left, copy to be corrected is on the right under the green pen. She’s reading newspaper articles for a weekly, 30 pages, local paper and using a green fine point marker pen to note spelling errors and writing style fixes. At noon the sports and entertainment section is complete, with cut-lines below photos of locals tubing on the newly opened hill and high schoolers hiking to a local food pantry making their Christmas donation of non-perishables, and it’s displayed on slanted shelves where there is enough room to lay out all the pages of this section of the paper.
She sits at a desk, hunkered down, glasses on, chewing sugar-free watermelon flavored gum, resting on a maroon adjustable chair, in this small gray cubicle, the sound of the police band radio intermittently blurting out requests for assistance or information followed by 10-four, and the muted after holiday laughter and by-play of the sales staff coming from the front office area.
The building is tan brick, rectangular 50s modern with only high windows giving those of us seated in cubicles inside a view of sky, tree branches and the endless black wires of this electricity age. She’s the only one without a computer, she deals in hard copy. Proofing and copy editing a day and a half a week, reading stories twice, once on 8.5 by 11 sheets and once in the columned final form. Everything from sports to news to obituaries to human interest, this is the time for yearly summaries, many photos and looking back so much of the proofing is easy. But now after having done it for a year all things are copy edited, all writing is proofed. She hardly even chuckles over the man from Green ‘G’ay or the cremation interment that will ‘b’ake place or the police who are called for cats at large. It’s all in a day’s work.
By noon the smells of various lunches heated in the microwave permeate the work area, somebody has had a cabbage dish and that sulphureous odor does not add any glamour to the surroundings. There are badly frosted Christmas cookies in the break room and a couple of decorations, but otherwise Christmas is over. In fact it feels like the year is wrapping up, just a rehash of the highlights that have already been done, almost goodbye 2012.
Anybody else work at a weekly paper? What do you think of the film noir style? Working there has increased my interest in doing more writing.