You love a thing because of, not in spite of, its shortcomings

I have a friend who works at a local television station. We argue occasionally about whose mistakes are more embarrassing, and I guess by extension, whose job is more important.

“Look,” she says, “I understand you have deadlines, and I’m sure that’s very stressful, but the stuff we do is live. We’ve got to do our jobs correctly to the second because if we don’t, it’ll mess everything up, and everyone will notice. And unlike newspapers, we actually have an audience.”

And she has a good point. Television news certainly has to have a greater sense of urgency because it’s immediate and it’s a performance as much as anything (though I’d like to point out comparing our circulation to any local station’s ratings doesn’t work in their favor).

But I still disagree.

Continue reading “You love a thing because of, not in spite of, its shortcomings”

I hate my job.

Sometimes I try to give my blogs shocking titles in the hopes of increasing readership. It doesn’t seem to be working, but I don’t think, “I hate the consistent requirements of life and futile struggle against entropy” would have enticed anyone. Forgive being misled into clicking.

In a way, though, that is an accurate title. As much as the newsroom is fun to be around, the demands of my occupation are positively ludicrous. I have to come in bright and early at 3 p.m. five days a week and sit at a computer reading things until midnight with only a one-hour lunchbreak. Just a few months ago, 18 hours was considered a full load, and here I am working 40. Oh, and roofers think they have it bad having to be outside all day, but when I drive in the afternoon in my car, sometimes I burn my hand on the metal part of the seatbelt and it stings like you wouldn’t believe. Then once I’m in the office, I have to have a sweater for when the air conditioner goes on the fritz.

But the worst thing is that every day is a new day, and every paper, too. For example, the other day one of the other copy editors caught a potentially libelous comment that was going to be printed in the (you people say the meanest things). It was my page and I didn’t see it, but she did and for all I know saved Freedom Communications from a hundred thousand dollar lawsuit or settlement. But the next day was a new one, and doing her job very well on one day did nothing to help her the next. Today’s problems don’t care about yesterday’s triumphs.

My tongue is nearly all the way out of my cheek by now, so I’ll keep it in the middle of my mouth from here on. I joked about college credit hours, but schoolwork in general is nice in that it’s cumulative. I guess you start over each semester or year, but you can do well enough through the beginning that you can take off the end. It’s not that nothing is like that in “the real world,” you can be financially successful at one point in your life to the point you can take it easy later. In fact, I think that’s the whole purpose of working and retirement. But for the most part, consistency is key.

It sucks that you have to brush your teeth every day to prevent bad breath and rot. Brushing your teeth fantastically on Tuesday doesn’t mean a thing Thursday. You can’t work out enough in a day to last you for the week, or work out so well before the age of thirty that you stay healthy afterward. You can’t clean your house so completely cleaning is no longer necessary.

This must be what God was talking about when he cursed Adam. Not just the toil of laboring against the thorns, but that the thorns would always grow back and Adam would always have to eat. He would have to work hard, and not just hard, but work always.

Slow and steady doesn’t win the race. That’s nonsense. The hare would beat the tortoise on any given day. But slow and steady wins every race after the hare decides to stop running them. The stalactites keep dripping whether fight them or no.

Life, like death, is inexorable and unconquerable. It’s futile to catch mistakes on a paper when there’s just going to be more tomorrow. It’s futile to clean because it’s just going to get dirty again anyway. Meaningless, meaningless, we hate the futility. But we like our newspapers accurate and we like our things clean, and we steal little victories here and there, and hopefully we can rejoice in them while slowly, steadily losing the war.