Reading Rainbow

Newsies So far, this week has been anything but typical. Change is good but it also takes some acclimating because even though mentally I like doing new things, the rest of me takes longer to catch up. I have today off but spent the past two days at my new NY Post library job (I have an article in today's paper. One of the photo captions is incorrect, but what can you do. I don't write the captions or headlines). Like I said, I hate routine but uncertainly freaks me out a bit. I have no idea what my hours will typically be and how steady any of it is.

I'm still reluctant to give too much detail job-wise because I fear getting into some sort of abstract trouble over talking shit even though I live for talking shit. I will say that the Post library job and the former PR library job are so completely opposite that I'm still processing it. The news research work isn't terribly difficult (lots of looking up phone numbers, running license plates, finding estranged relatives-Mon. we were trying to track down Anna Nicole Smith's first husband) but it's nonstop and frenzied and there are stretches when you barely have time to think (let alone blog a little on the side. I've been brain damaged the past two nights when I've gotten home. I know I predicted in Jan. when I started the PR job that you'd never hear from me again, but I managed to work my way around the workload. I think I'll re-master the art of the lull soon enough). I'm going to turn into a freaking newsie.

In PR I did like 85% of the work (even though no one would outright admit this) because I was the only full time librarian. The Post has five other librarians to pick up the slack and the manager/director actually does nitty gritty work, i.e. working double shifts, filing photos in the dank basement when no one else wants to and eating at her desk rather than coming into the office maybe once a week, taking two hour lunches, getting her hair done and shopping for hours during the day, constantly complaining about her family or how sick she is or how hard her suburban life is and generally making excuses why she can't come in while constantly micromanaging me by phone on the NJ Turnpike.

At the Post there is no cc-ing, documenting every tiny thing you do, no one checks your work or wants to know what you're doing every minute of the day. You don't have to package the research, read and summarize articles for anyone, make Power Points, or function as a business analyst with a librarian's salary. At the Post you read facts over the phone or email them raw info, end of subject. That's all there's time for. It's their job to do something with the results. Newspaper people are brusque and no nonsense. PR is fluff and bullshit. Both have their pros and cons.

The aspect that I like the most is that I'm now surrounded by more typical librarian personalities. By that I mean that there's a general wariness (ok, disdain) of the people we're supposed to be helping, there's lots of swearing, saying no to someone is perfectly acceptable because you're constantly guarding against being taken advantage of. In PR management said yes to everything and then would make me do it. Even when a request was totally unreasonable or over demanding you couldn't criticize it. One of my last requests was fixing something I'd already done that wasn't articulated properly in the first place. When I politely pointed out that this person hadn't actually asked for A B and C, the director wrote back to me, "remember, these are busy executives!" like that's an excuse. At the Post a "busy executive" really means asshole or idiot and would be called out as such. PR VPs and top editors generally have demanding personalities. I can deal, but I do appreciate others at least being able to acknowledge and laugh about (or at) people who are a pain in the ass.

On my last day, Friday (when I got into a yelling fight with the temp replacing me–seriously, I've never screamed at anyone in the office ever in my life but this woman was a middle aged whining wacko who pushed me to the edge. The problem was that she couldn't do my job [and flat out said so, "this isn't what I signed up for" Lady, I said the same thing eight months ago] showed up late and left early all three days she was there and I didn't have the patience or energy to explain simple things like how to make a table in a word document or copy and paste text or how to summarize an article in a few sentences. Of course, I was relishing every awkward second because these are also basic tasks that my manager couldn't do. I told the temp to make sure and ask her lots of questions on Monday because she loves to help, which is cruelly untrue. I would've been compassionate if the temp had acted like a semi-normal, competent human being. Uh, maybe. I don't get many opportunities in life to make others unduly suffer-these fleeting moments must be cherished.

So, now I have to bring up LeVar Burton because he really shaped my eight months in PR. Like Oprah has her whole "a ha moment" crap, I had a LeVar Burton moment about a month into this job that made me sit up and say "oh shit, it's all clear now, I've made a huge mistake." One of my first requests was identifying potential candidates for some nuclear energy board. I had (and still have) no idea how to approach that sort of thing. It was suggested that I look at scholars, ex govt. execs or think tank type people who might be pro-nuclear energy. Uh, whatever. I'm sure what I compiled was a disaster because nothing was really succinctly articulated to me. It turned out that I hadn't been relayed all the criteria by my manager (surprise) and they wanted younger, hipper candidates. What the fuck ever. The manager started skimming through speaker bureaus and I swear started picking out completely random people. She authoritatively zeroed in on LeVar Burton and told me to include him. I thought she was joking. She wasn't. I was completely stressed out because this research was being sent in my name. I just kind of yes'd her and deleted him before passing everything to our DC office.

This is when I knew I was in big trouble. And no one would even get it or care if I pointed out this misguided-ness (believe me, I tried with subsequent missteps and was made to feel like I was the problem and didn't understand the manager/underling relationship. And the cyborg foreign-born director wouldn't have gotten the humor anyway. She didn't know who Danny Bonaduce, Rachael Ray or Gino Vannelli were so there wasn't much hope that LeVar Burton would set off any alarms). The only person who got it was the assistant who sat next to me. LeVar Burton became our code word for completely fucked up behavior in the office with no consequences, "let's add that one to the LeVar Burton file." But then, what do I know? Maybe LeVar Burton would've made a brilliant board member for the nuclear energy institute. Reading Rainbow, Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation–all great experience. I'm just a close minded naysayer.

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