OK, so I’m not a kid. But really, “New Hag on the Block” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

You know, when I told friends that I’d accepted a job at a newspaper, most of them looked at me with a combination of pity and surprise. One friend told me, “It’s going to be a whole new world, dude. A whole new world.” To which I replied, “Means?” My friend guzzled some beer and said, “You’ll see.”

Here’s what I did see when I found my desk at the new office:

Erm…ok then.

I’m not sure whether I should feel reassured or freaked out. Is this supposed to prepare me for the mood on the floor when we get the pages ready? Should I feel better that at least I have some sort of guidelines/advice? Never having worked in a newspaper before, I’m pretty much clueless about how things work and I wasn’t expecting rape and molestation to be among the things to watch out for, but at least now I have tips on how to deal with eventualities. Which is more than I can say about my knowledge about the potentially less rapey aspects of my job profile.

This publication must only employ clairvoyants because no one seems to want to provide basic information. It’s not that people aren’t friendly. They are. But there does seem to be an assumption that I’m on the same page, which is somewhat wildly off the mark. For example, I’m yet to figure out whether I’m working a 5-day week or a 6-day week. No one’s told me and I felt slightly weird asking about days off before I’ve done any work. One of my favourite moments so far was when the only person I know from HR — the one who negotiated with me — came up to me this morning and asked me if I was settling in ok. I said I was muddling along. She beamed at me, her expression lucidly conveying the fact that she has no idea what “muddling” means. Then she asked me, “So what exactly are you going to do? As in, what is your job?” Fantastic.

The one part of my job that I do know for sure — how to edit — isn’t really helping me much. I have in front of me an article by a colleague that is, but for about 4 lines, copied from another published article. This is when you know you’re working in a newspaper. I’m not quite sure how I’m supposed to react to this casual plagiarism. Would there be any point in throwing a shitfit? Or do I just quietly rewrite the whole thing? Or do I throw a shitfit and then rewrite the whole thing? Or do I throw a shitfit and get my underling (yes, I have an underling. Man, I love climbing up the ranks) to rewrite it? Decisions, decisions.

In other news, I’ve found the bathroom, the water cooler, a lemon tea dispenser, the coffee machine and figured out how to get food from the pantry. Yesterday was rather frustrating because I’d see these liveried chappies prancing around, carrying trays of food (and fresh fruit juice in beer mugs), but today I know the pantry’s extension number. Now if I can figure out my own extension number, no one can stand between me and dosa and freshly-squeezed watermelon juice. You may imagine me having a “By the power of Grayskull, I have the power” moment.

7 thoughts on “New Kid on the Block

  1. An interesting insight from an insider, I loved it. Being a PR professional, I am used to listen to all those talk about badly written press release, feature, blah, blah. But, its good to know that humans remain human, irrespective of the job or place. The idea of doing least amount of work yet earn your don-ought is pretty cool and is never out of fashion.

  2. Tituraj, thank you for reading. I think what you’ve written makes as good a case for PR English as any.

    Scritch, the desk delivery of food is pretty darn fantastic. And yes, the cover is very wrong. But then the inside wasn’t much better. I chucked it today otherwise I’d quote bits.

  3. I loved this post.. you have mashed your feeling of panic into a nice humorous post. I esp. love the ‘hag’ waala part 😀

    Also, I second Mackie above 🙂

  4. At least your writing does not seem to be “muddled”! (if i understand correctly, cause i had to check the dictionnary ;-))
    and for the rest…it amazes me how nowadays, no one seems to give welcome and instructions when you get to new jobs!
    so, on that note…i triple what Mackie said 😉

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