Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Evil Midget Boss, Chapter the Third: There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

My deepest thanks to KS for breaking through my fog of memory loss! Thanks to her, I have booked 10 new therapy sessions.

During the Queen's tenure, my hapless coworkers would often arrive to find the red light on their phones blazing. No matter the time and the topic, the phone message would be marked "Urgent." In a panic, one would await the beep. The message would invariably be one of the following:

"K____, I noticed that you were tardy this morning. Please make an effort to arrive on time in the future or we will need to have further discussions."

"R____, my computer is not working. The screen is entirely blank. Please come to my office ASAP." [The computer was not turned on.]

"Dear staff, I have the remainder of a roast beef sandwich from my lunch that I would like to share with one lucky recipient. Please report to my office if you're hungry!"

"J_____, would you have a safety pin/piece of tape/Tylenol capsule/chunk of crack at your desk? Please bring it right away."

"Dear staff, from now on, NO art person is to make changes to text in a file. Not even a comma! Art people meddling with text can result in serious errors. This will not be tolerated."

But the most eerie "red light alert" would occur when one was at the desk, typing away busily. From the corner of one's eye...the red light would flare into being. No ring. No nothing. From her dark cave, the Queen would issue commands--sent entirely through the phone system, which she would access and then type phone extensions to send her "urgent" messages.

We realized at a certain point that The Queen's phone password was the very same as her extension. That is, I realized it. I got in the naughty habit of getting "into the system" and sending peculiar messages marked "urgent" to various staff members, sometimes with the aid of a little CD I own called "Fun With Sound Effects."

The most tortured individual on our staff was no doubt the art director, who suffered until midnight and beyond to meet her crazy needs. She'd hover over his desk and demand that he "lighten the tint by 10%" repeatedly, or ask him to shift a block of text "three picas." Once, the following text revision took place at his desk:

Version 1: "Members of the editorial team worked hard to bring this technology report to you."
Version 2: "My staff and I worked hard to bring this technology report to you."
Version 3 [published version]: "I worked hard to bring this technology report to you."

The Queen insisted that everyone on staff remain until the last page went out to the printer that day. No matter if "your pages" were done, you had to wait. She would retire into her office with her ubiquitous pencil and mark changes in a scribbly scrawl on the proofs. This could sometimes go on for two hours. I think she thought she worked at Vogue. (In fact, she always wanted a Fashion Section in our magazine. Let's just say it's not quite appropriate for the subject matter.) Comments included:

"What's a right triangle? Are people supposed to KNOW this?"
"Sex this up."
"See me."

To give her some credit, she was a talented copyeditor. Copyeditors are a rare breed, capable of being thrown into a frenzy by a misplaced comma or a wrongly-hyphenated word. I have a titch of the illness but no more. Copyeditors--and this is not meant to be a slur--have a dusty, old library quality about them. They often wear glasses, but not always. Don't get me wrong. Some are sexy. They are extremely valuable, and good ones are becoming more rare. She had a skill at this sort of thing.

Because I'm such a sweetheart, I'll leave off at that--with the lovely memory of a dangling modifier, fixed...or a split infinitive, beautifully repaired.

Tomorrow, or thereafter, I will return with more tales to tell.


The Mad Hatter said...

More, More....three is just the beginning of something great!

Anonymous said...