Thursday, August 16, 2012

8-15-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians -- Starter Job #179 (Working Temp in NYC: Xeroxing for The Man)

I know they call it just plain old copying now, but back in the dark ages of the copy machine, we called it photocopying and most of them were called Xerox machines, and so we used the verb “Xeroxing” a lot for making copies of documents.

The early Xerox copiers weren’t as fast and reliable as the current generation of super copiers, of course, but they weren’t without their usefulness and charms.

Before using copy machines, we had carbon papers to make copies with, and they were messy (the carbon stuff came off when you touched it). But we use the initials for that expression to this day, on our emails as well. Some jobs I worked, the bulk of the tasks were to make copies and distribute them to a big “cc” (carbon copy) and even “bcc” (blind carbon copy) list.

I quickly learned how to load those early copiers, troubleshoot, cajole ‘em into cooperation. I always checked the paper supply and figured out where the extra paper and toner cartridges were kept, first, when I arrived at a new office and knew I’d be visiting that room an awful lot.

This was invaluable knowledge once I went into my brief teaching career decades later. Teachers live and teach by generating lots of paper assignments to classes, especially in Social Studies and English. And a teacher who knows the ways of a copying machine is lucky indeed!

At any rate, we did do stupid stuff back then like Xerox our faces, our hands, our butts even. . . because it was hilarious and you weren’t supposed to, of course!

Another fun thing to do was to make copies of personal documents -- another no-no, but believe me, when you feel small and powerless and disrespected and put upon, you try to milk the system for every little convenience. I had a lot of song lyric sheets (even then) and felt compelled to always keep a hard copy of any correspondence I’d send out, personal or business. Some day I’ll find them and probably torch the lot. . .

Anyway, office temps were often sent off to make copies for other secretaries too, so I spent many days sequestered off in the copier room. I didn’t really mind too much, though. At least, I was away from the phones.

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