I sit here at my desk sucking on the last Popsicle of summer. It’s coming to an end, the summer that is. The office is hot and was hot for most of the summer. Our lonely air conditioner whirring ineffectively promises but fails to deliver refreshing coolness. We all know it’s lying to us but are somehow comforted in the knowledge it might be worse without it. Doors open and close, letting in more heat. We actually have more than one air conditioner but can’t use the others because they keep blowing the fuse box. I’m sure a lot of you know the sounds (not just of desperation) that people make when the electricity goes down and computers crash. God probably gets a lot of temporary converts and lost sheep returning to the fold at these times as people pray that Word or some equivalent automatically saved just before the screens went black.
The irony is that we can’t actually use all the fans we have here in the office. That’s because of the stacks of unsecured paper on each desk that go flying like confetti at a wedding, only without the kisses and smiling people. You’re more likely to see tears (not of joy) as you try, and fail, to find all that necessary flying documentation.
In our business of print media, documentation is important. Hard copy is still preferred over electronic. It is only recently that a fax of your signature is considered to be legitimate. People can play with electronic forms of documents but hardcopy is recognized legally. Remember that when buying something you always get a receipt. In our office, hardcopy is our receipt of what’s going on, what we call the “galley proof.” A galley proof is a hardcopy that approximates what will be in the actual magazine. We need this because even though we proof things on the computer we always find mistakes in the hardcopy. The human eye is more comfortable with it. The tangible over the intangible as it were.
I know though we are going into the cool time soon. The frantic pace of the office will return as the heat of summer dissipates into fog, rain, frost and finally, six-foot snow drifts. We hope that latter don’t arrive before the end of October, when our building management turns on the heat. We don’t control the heat in our office, you see. It quickly shoots up and we look and feel like we are running a sweat shop. Some people here say that often enough even when it’s quite cold, at any rate. So there is always someone looking longingly at the air conditioner, in whatever season.