Part 1 of the Library Chronicles.
Note: I will at various points during this story, drop into "state speak". "State speak" is a specialized language that state workers use when they are talking to fellow co-workers or other state workers, complete with customized dialects for a particular state agency. If you have questions about what I'm saying, and if I don't make it clear enough in whatever particular post you're reading, please don't hesitate to ask. I'll be more than happy to elaborate.
The first order of business was to get the nickel tour from my supervisor on what it was exactly I would be doing. So, off to the dusty, smelly, fetid attic where all off these wonderful newspapers were kept.
I thought to myself, 'this can't be that bad, she's making it out worse than it could be.'
Well guess what folks, it is that bad. I set foot in that attic and the first that I experienced was a one minute coughing attack (asthma, it's a good thing). The second thing I noticed was that just to think of even touching the the volumes of newspapers was to acquire dust and red rot all over your clothes, glasses and hair. After about fifteen minutes of walking through the aisles that were the width of my stomach (yes I am fat. 5'7'' and 170) and having the driest throat possible, I was taken to where I would be situated for part of the day.
There were only three ways to get to this office, which was tucked away in a seldom used corner of the seventh floor. One way was to take the public elevator to the sixth floor and walk up one flight. Another was to take the freight elevator directly to the seventh and cut over. Lastly, if you really wanted a good cardio workout, was to take all seven flights of stairs up to the office.
So this office, which was incredibly hot in the summer time (only a.c. we got was from a vent that pulled it in from the book stacks), and incredibly cold in the winter time (again, only heat we got was from the stacks), was my cramped little home. I had this incredibly old fashioned hand-cranked microfilm machine, in which to inspect and approve microfilm, a computer that I shared with three others and a table that doubled as my desk. And a sunroof, can't forget to mention the sunroof (more on that later).
Anyways, we traveled down to the preservation area, where I would be doing the bulk of my work from. It wasn't much: four large work areas, a multitude of sharp instruments to play with, two more offices and a few more computers, big old table top paper cutter (more on that latter), a couple of very large manual presses, a couple of pallets and about 35 volumes of newspapers to destroy.
One odd feature about this particular room was that twice a year maintenance would come in and climb into the ceiling to shut off/turn on the water to the outside.
This was now my whole new world. The initial purpose of my was to 1) destroy newspapers for microfilming, 2) inspect microfilm and take notes, 3) do road trips to pry other newspapers from other libraries and historical societies, none of which had the same agenda as we did.
However, as everyone out there knows, if you show even the tiniest inkling that you have other useful skills, you become the go to guy in perpetuity. I showed strong math skills and a super smooth phone manner that could make an alcoholic give his bottle of booze to me, so naturally, my job description got immediately tweaked.
Because I was really the only member of the dept that actually did this kind of work (everyone else were catalogers), I became.....
wait for it
Yes, I was faster than a rolling cart.
Strong enough to push that rolling cart filled with 300 pounds worth of newspapers.
Able to lift five thick volumes of newspapers at one time.
It's a film, it's a grant, it's Clerical Man!! (do do dooooo).
Next up: Clerical Man.