I was tired. Good God was I tired. Tired and smelly.
I stank of coffee and McDonald’s french fries. My eyes were bloodshot and I had three days’ worth of peach fuzz for a goatee. My desk was covered in papers, books, coffee mugs, and CDs (the round and shiny things we used to buy so we could listen to music).
I was staring at the layout for that week’s edition of the Erie Square Gazette. Things were going smoother than usual: we were only two hours past our deadline. But cabin fever was starting to set in. I’d been with my fellow journalists for about eight hours straight and my mind was already fractured.
Across the room sat the venerable Bob “the Bob” Kroll and Josh “the real deal” Riehl. We all shared thousand yard stares reminiscent of either war veterans or crystal meth addicts. I took a huge swig of coffee and dropped an article into place on the production page.
“Pages one and nine are finished!” I shouted. I clicked the print button for those two pages and instructed Bob to cut them out and put them on the proof sheets (proof sheets are the pages that we used to give the printer who would then render them into the final product). Bob seized them from the printer and dashed into the next room. I resumed laying out the pages and drinking coffee (not necessarily in that order).
A few minutes later I hear a shout from next door. It sounded as though Bob was in pain. Josh and I staggered into the room to see Bob clutching his hand. An exacto knife and the proof sheet lay on the table before him.
“What happened?!” I asked. Bob regains him composure and says “I cut off part of my finger tip with an exacto knife”. My eyes widened.
“Did you bleed on the proof sheet?!” I inquired. (At this point it’s obvious where my concerns are).
“No, it’s fine” mutters Bob. We resume working.
It’s incidents like this and many others that describe my time at the “Erie Square Gazette.” It was truly a learning experience; when we started every issue was littered with mistakes and clumsy layouts. By the end we had finally started turning out something worth reading.
I remember starting there with a skeleton crew of writers and editors and leaving the venerable institution with a full production staff and a surplus of staff writers. The ESG was my lover. I would sleep in its office and dream of its pages.
I learned a lot there. I learned about leadership and hard work. I learned how to write (though you might not be able to tell from this article). I learned how important people are to an organization and I learned that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
I learned how to learn. I discovered that every mistake was just another misstep I wouldn’t make again. I’m proud of what we did there and I’m prouder still to be a part of its long history. I’m always curious about what is happening there and I visit the offices whenever I’m back in town.
The ESG isn’t the news organization it was when I left. It has a website now! It has color! I suppose the ESG has been changed just like it changed me.
Here’s to 80 more years.
ESG alumni-Guest author