black and white and read all over

When I was 14 I got my first real job. Prior to that I did what any young kid would do: paper route, cat sit, baby sit and chores.

Let me start by saying that nepotism can be awesome if used correctly, ie: in my favor. My Mom was the lifestyles editor and columnist at our local paper. Low pay, no frills, desk by the mens room awesomeness. But – she loved it. Most of the time. When one of the girls in the office was promoted to doing non-byline writing and editing, there was an opening. Mom figured it was a simple enough job, why not ask Cassie?

At 14, getting work papers isn’t easy. I had to go to my Guidance Councillor’s office at least 10 times in order to get everything straight. Apparently working and having taxes taken from you under the age of 16 is frowned upon. Or at least annoying. Because it was…annoying.

That was when I first memorized my social security number. Later on in life, that knowledge came in handy, because if you didn’t know the last four digits in the Army, you didn’t get to eat.

My job really was simple enough: I cut four separate papers for the day and filed them by author and subject. (Four papers because of the front and back writing.) I’d sit at my little table with my back to the room, facing the printing shop in the back, smelling all the nastiness that comes from that. And cigarettes. And probably asbestos.

Now, newsrooms aren’t like what you see on TV. At least this one wasn’t. The editor would have the radio on in the background (which was always DVE….bah,) and other than that…it was silent. It was a small room with no organization, boxes lined everywhere and seven corner desks all snaked together throughout the space. Plus the paint needed to be redone. There were wires everywhere, too.

Every so often the phone would ring, arguments would break out, or my favorite – Tom would stand up out of the blue and shout something, then stomp off to another room. I always loved that. Sometimes the arguments were civilized, sometimes they’d be like watching a cat fight. My Mom would hold her ground until her face was blue. It was always such a sight to see.

Anywho, my job. After I read through the paper, circling the subjects or authors, I’d cut out each article and go to my closet and file them. I had three large filing cabinets and they were almost 5 feet high. My system, to me, made sense. However, some days I’d walk into work and I’d have an angry coworker staring me down looking for an article that she couldn’t find. After about a year or two of putting up with that, I decided it’d be best if I just clipped all her files and put them in an envelope and had her decide where they should be filed. Because of that, I felt less tension. But I also then had to make several copies, because those stories needed to be in ten different places. I can dig that, really, I can. But at 15 or whatever, it’s frustrating. Especially when you’re working with a bunch of educated adults who think you’re an idiot.

Being asked in a patronizing tone, “Did you even read the story?” really made me feel 100% better about myself, too. In my head I’d be saying, “No, no I didn’t. Because if you want to know the truth, if I have to read one more article about the Commissioners I think I might take my pen and jab it in my eye.” But I’d just say, “Sorry, I’ll try to do better.” And of course, my face would be 10 shades of red, and because the room was small and quiet, everyone heard everything.

Disaster.

But my boss,  always tried to make things better. He had a pet name for me, which was Sped. Apparently he considered me to be special-ed in a loving, boss like way. While I found it funny, he’d always find a way to take it to the next level of funny.

One day, when I came into work and opened up my file closet, there was a teeny, tiny piece of white paper taped to the top of the middle cabinet. I squinted and read, “Cassie is a sped.” I swear it was maybe 3 pt or something. Tiny! Then to the left was a photo of me holding a bottle of Jim Beam from that summer. Now, the reason that’s funny is because I didn’t drink. I abhorred drinking. So when I was asked to hold up the bottle, the look on my face says it all. And so there it was, large and in charge, in the filing cabinet. It may or may not still be there.

That cabinet got so out of control with messages and such all over it, that when parents would come in to have their baby’s first birthday photo taken, we’d have to close it up. No need to offend, right?

I worked that job for 3 years. When I decided to go into the Army, I quit, even though I knew if I wanted to come back to it after I got home, I could have. Instead, I worked for Arby’s. Silly, Cassie.

What I miss most about that job was the newsprint. Actual newspaper. Have you ever really smelled a newspaper? It smells so good. And after handling four papers in a short span of time, my fingers would be black from the print. (And YES, I got it on my face ALL the time and my boss would make sure to make fun of me for it on multiple occasions.)

I also miss the sports writers. In the time I was there we had 3. One would talk with his arm slung over his head. The other one would laugh so hard his ears would turn red. And my favorite, Jeff, would always make me feel welcome. He was super nice. Plus, he’d always cover my school’s sports and make my boyfriend at the time look good. His picture was in the paper a lot. (I mean, sure, he was good and stuff, but I think I helped out the situation a bit.)

Yah, that job was awesome. It was awesome. And I’m pretty sure it made me able to put up with all kinds of different kinds of people. I mean, we had some winners come in. But that’s another story for another day.

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on January 14, 2011, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I love the smell of newsprint, news magazines and old books. Just something about it.

    Didn’t know you worked for a paper before!

  2. LOL And yes that photo is still there. 🙂 I’m pretty sure anyways.

  3. I would have loved to have worked at a real live newspaper when I was in high school. Would have beat the hell out of bagging groceries the grocery store, that’s for sure. Most fun we managed was to stake out the freezer aisle in the summer, when the MILFs came in.

    • I hope someday I can be a MILF.

      It was really cool working for a newspaper. It was hard, though, at times having a Mom who worked for one. Her columns were very personal at times, which were fabulously written, but when they were about your abusive ex-father, it’s hard.

      She has talent beyond talent, though. So it was always a joy to hear “Cassie, tell your Mom I loved her column today!” from teachers.

  4. Ooooh, ooooh, that nice one was me! Sadly, when you move to bigger newspapers, it’s just the same as the small ones. Arguments, close quarters, strange people coming in and a men’s restroom right in the middle of the office. Never fails. It’s too bad all we’ll have in 10 years are the memories and my unemployment benefits….

  5. Jeff Say is that you???

    • Oh it is! He’s been a random commenter from time to time. It’s good to know he’s still out there!

    • PAM! And a hellooo Rodney as well, since I saw the whole gang is here! I am alive…and I haven’t gotten a parking ticket in five years! (Oh, and I have a daughter now, she’s eight months old Thursday and she loves boys. I now believe in karma.)

  6. Hey Cassie,

    Not only is the photo is there, but the little 2-pt “Cassie is a sped” note is stil taped to the door. We’ve stopped clip-filing. The old favorite: “Cassie will take a story about a school board talking about bus schedules, deduce busses drive on roads, roads are something taken care of by PennDOT and hence, the school board story belongs in the PennDOT file.” Nice blog entry, Kiddo. You were and still are one of my all time favorites.

    • Aww, thanks Rodney! It’s like a work reunion here!

      I was spot on with that filing. Ha ha. Not so much. But you know, the funny part about it all is that I really did know what I was doing, I just had the attention span of a gnat. I’d yell at myself a lot.

  7. I was severely disappointed the first time I walked into the Shreveport Times newsroom as the theatre critic and it was…completely calm and quiet.

    It dashed all my fantasies of being a 21st Century Mary Tyler Moore.

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