When I left school I didn’t have a clue what career I wanted to pursue and was offered a position with the local newspaper. Don’t get all excited, it was as an office junior/runner for the editorial department.
It reminded me very much of a job from a Dickens novel. There were five of us in the team, which was headed up by a very matriarchal old woman whose name escapes me. She must have been in her 60’s if she was a day but looked to be about 80.
The job required that you monitored the chute which sent copy throughout the building and took the encapsulated information to the relevant section on our floor as fast as you could. I’m already getting flashbacks of young boys up chimneys and working the factories. No, it wasn’t quite that bad, in fact it really wasn’t a bad job for a young person at all.
We were on the second floor and the building had four. The first floor was for the printing presses, type setters and proof readers. The third floor was the image library, thousands of pictures which were regularly called for filed away in drawered cabinets. It was one of my jobs to retrieve images and after a while you became acquainted with the correct cabinet and drawer for the well used ones.
It kept you fit running up and down several flights of stairs all day and at lunchtime you could retire to the canteen on the top floor where they served some wonderful meals at reduced prices.
There were several desks on our floor, I’m just trying to recollect what they were. We had the news desk, features, sport and the children’s free paper staff to name but a few. The most interesting desk was the features desk.
They had a little secret, not a very well kept one but a secret all the same. The men who worked on that desk also ran the Lonely Hearts column or as you may know it the “Personals”. They were a group of three men in ranging in age from about mid 30’s to close to retirement age.
They would brighten their day by placing fake advertisement for companions and then wait for a response. This is the reason I found out about it. I was the one who would collect their mail from the mailbox on the ground floor and take it up to them.
Once I had collected the responses from those responding to the adverts I had to drop them off at their desk. It was just like watching a flock of seagulls descend upon a discarded chip on the seafront as they reached in to the pile and scooped up a handful of replies from eager, lonely ladies.
I watched from my position on the desk as they passed letters between them, giggling just like little school boys. It was sad really to think that those poor women had probably posted off their letters in the hope that they would be received by an equally lonely man whom they may be able to share a life with.
Instead they were ridiculed by a bunch of over grown school boys with nothing better to do. I hope they all managed to find their Mr Right in the end.
For a first job it was a very interesting one but the money wasn’t very good and I moved on after about a year to a more financially rewarding position but I haven’t really found another position as interesting as one which allows you to read the news before it’s printed, it makes you feel kind of privileged.