Holidays around the corner. Not too early to talk about turkey.

Forget everything you were told about persistence paying off.

Your parents lied.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease?

Yup, down at the auto shop.

Here’s a life ditty, a turkey of a tale. Or is it a tail of a turkey? Hmmmm.

I’m not gonna name names so let’s call it the Tacoma Turkey. The attentive reader will pick up on hints to its true name embedded in the post.

The Turkey’s a decent-sized freebie newspaper that comes out weekly. Which is to say that it’s a weekly publication available in stores, markets, cafes, vendor boxes and such.

Once a week it comes out. On Thursdays.

For two solid years — not to be confused with two permeable years defined by forgetfulness, escapism and a self-diagnosed certainty of dementia — I’ve been knocking at the Tacoma Turkey’s door for a job. Because they need me.

Well, I need them too. As one in a local trio of papers, two of which I’ve no shot in hell of ever working for {and yes that phrase ends in a preposition}, the Turkey is my only hope at re-entering my career in this gawd-forsaken town.

But they need me more. The paper is peppered with so many errors in copy and headlines, you’ve got to wonder whether a recent college grad is doing the editing. Or a blindfolded monkey.

And as those in my 3D life who read my blog (Brandon) know, steam rolls out my ears and I see red — and red pencils — at incorrect use of grammar and 2nd-grade-level vocabulary. How it is that the masses are unable to grasp the difference between “its” and “it’s” and “lay” and “lie” is simply beyond my comprehension!

So I’ve been pounding at the weekly Tacoma Turkey’s door for a good couple years because they need my skills and in my passionate service to correct writing — and good writing.

A while back I nearly got the foot in the door. Got the interview with the No. 2 man. He liked me and was impressed with my background. All that was needed to secure the deal was the publisher’s okay. It never arrived. Wasn’t that the publisher said no. He just said nothing. Inaction is tantamount to a no.

They dropped the ball.

And all my impeccable follow-through amounted to a hill of beans. I could’ve gotten the same response talking to corpses down at the morgue and had a better time too.

So I let it go but didn’t give up. I checked in periodically. Any opening for a position I could conceivably do or learn (that sky’s expansive), I applied. I kept my interest known and my name alive. It appeared so often in their office on emails and resumes, they likely mistook me for a staff writer who just never appeared in the office. A ghost writer.

A couple months back they were seeking a receptionist. While my experience is scant, it’s certainly a job I’m capable of learning; that it was in my industry was an asset. Again, I practiced persistence. Eventually snagged an interview — whooohooo!! On a Friday at 11 a.m. With three people, including the No. 1 and 2 men, I was told.

Two of the three were no-shows and the one who did keep the appointment was the low rung on the ladder with no hiring authority.

Ball dropped again.

Despite their flub, I followed that up big time. I couldn’t have snagged her attention if I’d danced naked in the streets — a frightening sight indeed. Fiiiiiinally she let me know that I lacked the right qualifications … you know the rest. Sigh but OK.

Then when an ad for a proofreader appeared just recently, I was all over it like flies on roadkill. I was the wheel so squeaky that residents in the next town lifted their heads to the sound like bucks in the rutting season.

Landed the interview. This time the Nos. 2 and 3 men showed up. Progress.

Terrific interview.

The Tacoma Turkey extended an offer: proofread and copy edit twice a week for a guesstimated 10 hours a week.*

*Not enough to live on. And my only offer in 2+ years of job-hunting.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t turn that down. It was a foot in the door and something for the career resume, which falls off the cliff in 2004. Yes, I was disappointed. Two years of dogged persistence yielding 10 hours a week (and when there’s such need on their end). Elephants get more peanuts for their efforts at the circus.

Now to the end of the story you fretted might never arrive. We agreed I’d start today. Come in at 10 a.m. Proofread and copy edit a few hours today and tomorrow.

(Despite another bout of insomnia, I managed to awaken before the alarm in antici … pation. Remember, this is my first job offer in 2+ years. And a foot back into my industry after a 6-year absence. Plenty of excitement.)

Before I’d even reached for the bag of coffee grounds, I noticed a voice message on the cell phone. Received at 9 a.m.

“I just talked to my boss. He’s not ready to bring in a proofreader. He’s got some staff changes in the works. Not sure how it’ll shake down. So no need to come in today or tomorrow. We’ll stay in touch.”

Two years in the game and fueled wholly by my determination and passionate desire to be of service to their publication and the written word, we moved the ball down the entire football field. At the 2-yard line, the Tacoma Turkey drops it. Again.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In truth, I’d have poured a shot of whiskey into that morning coffee and done both had there been a bottle in the abode.

Game over. I’m done. I’m out. I’m turning in the cleats. Gonna walk right past that locker room and go straight home in my sweaty smelly uniform.

The moral of this story?

Persistence is terribly overrated.

Sometimes all the squeaky wheel gets is a good kick in the pants.

You can’t fly with eagles when you keep walking with turkeys.

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cimmorene
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 12:53:49

    This is something that’s been bothering me for a long time. Too many folks are too worried about their own bottom line to care about what’s going on in another, less fortunate, person’s life.

    Also, although I’ve had grammar problems in the punctuation department (too many commas in a sentence), I’ve been known to persistently correct people from time to time as well. So, you’re not alone.

    I do hope someone finally manages to remove the corporation’s collective head from its collective derriere sometime soon. Honestly. I wish you’d have dropped a name (I lost it in translation) so that I could go over and see for myself.

    Reply

  2. allycatadventures
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 14:18:50

    Hey Cimm – First, to be clear, the paper isn’t corporate-owned, rather operated by a local association (I know, rare for newspapers, eh!) Whatever its issue with the bottom line, fact is the paper could do better by simply improving its hire selections — no extra staff, no extra bucks. If nothing else, dump the blindfolded monkey for someone who truly and passionately cares about the written word and accuracy and will momentarily halt the Earth’s spin to check a word.

    Or am I overreaching? Again.
    Thanks for dropping in, your comments are always appreciated.

    Reply

  3. Invictus
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 14:48:51

    What a crock of shit. I wonder, have newspapers simply given up? Or, perhaps more accurately, have the news media as a whole just given up? Reading the news is an act of purest optimism anymore if you’re at all sensitive to grammar and spelling.

    There’s a writing community I like that has seen a groundswell of opposition lately to what they term “grammar Nazis.” Every time I see that term–and the atrociously written posts that rail against them–I feel like shouting, “Well, learn how to spell, use grammar correctly and most of all, learn how to write, for fuck’s sake.” My neighbors probably wonder about me.

    Reply

  4. allycatadventures
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 15:32:43

    LOL for real. I’m sitting in a cafe laughing out loud (and so what do the patrons wonder about me?).

    Have the media given up? With rare exception, they have, I believe. One need only watch nearly any TV “news,” pick up most papers across the states or listen to the radio of professionals pretending to be journalists to realize that not only has society become careless and dumb but them damn media too.

    Matter of fact, among my first introductions to U.S. culture in the post-Japan life lay in network TV news. The errors in the simplest subject-verb agreements were appalling in frequency and enough to make the ears bleed of anyone who gives a shit about language. That’s when I knew the media and society were on an irreversible course toward illiteracy and more.

    Is there a groundswell opposing grammar nazis?? That’s frightening and incredibly disturbing. And not surprising in the least. The train keeps chugging forward toward Destination: Idiocracy. In fact, there’s a Freshly Pressed blog in which the blogger used the word “grammar nazi” and got shit for it.

    So while you’re shouting, “Well, learn how to spell, use grammar correctly and most of all, learn how to write, for fuck’s sake,” I’ll yell in chorus, “Well, learn how to spell, use grammar correctly and most of all drop that whiney fucking PC crap!”

    Grrrrrrrrr. Now you got me so worked up, the cafe’s gonna boot me out. Kidding aside, I feel your angst. And unpopularity amongst your neighbors.

    Reply

  5. Invictus
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 16:09:25

    Let’s be unpopular together! And while we’re pissing and moaning about the shitty state of media, take a gander at this line from an ad I just spied on Journalism Jobs: “Pay commiserate with experience.” Error or Freudian slip? Either way, I don’t know that I’d be taking this joint seriously…

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Sep 21, 2010 @ 16:34:26

      Lol, it wouldn’t happen to be in this neck of the woods, would it? Speaking of which, that’s another area to get all fired up about, our industry parties and publications posting ads with screaming errors in punctuation, grammar, structure and/or word use. Time to time I’ve dashed off a response bringing it to their attention. Only once was I thanked; another time I was told to fuck off.

      Hmmm, might that be the ad you referenced?

      Reply

  6. Invictus
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 16:54:39

    Nah, this ad was for a place back east. Sometimes, places incorporate errors as a test, but I didn’t get that vibe from this one. Here’s the original ad: http://www.journalismjobs.com/Job_Listing.cfm?JobID=1201631.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Sep 21, 2010 @ 17:10:37

      For a publication that describes itself as a small, ambitious New England daily, it sure covers a remarkable swath (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, All Locations)

      Evidently they weren’t kidding when they said ambitious.

      Reply

  7. inaformerlifeanexpat
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 04:19:55

    That does suck.

    Reply

  8. Aussie Emjay
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 04:44:14

    Wow – I’m really sorry this happened to you.

    Reply

  9. Raymond
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 10:07:06

    I hope you will use the opportunity to aim higher. Even should you get a job at a ‘free’ newspaper, imagine how it would look on your resume.- – – Yes sir, I worked 18 months for a free newspaper. No, not really sir, our No. 1 felt that we might be pushing it a bit to sell it for a nickel. That’s not a problem sir, I’ve learned to survive on Turkey legs. On those occasions when the carnival came to town, you understand. Yes sir, I would like to work here because I’d rather disco with the eagles than trot with the turkeys.

    No, ain”t gonna say too bad. You’re good. I don’t know anything about writing, but I know when its good. You got the magic. Aim higher. You can do it. 🙂

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Sep 23, 2010 @ 10:47:29

      Raymond – There is nothing wrong with a freebie newspaper on a resume. It is paid work. Even if it were unpaid, there is nothing wrong with it. (As an aside, its freebie status on a resume is unnecessary; the publication name alone suffices.) There are only three newspapers in town. I had to try. For two years.

      No more. 🙂

      Reply

  10. DJ
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 17:16:47

    Un-flipping-believable! I can’t even think of anything else to write in response. 😦

    Reply

  11. Tony
    Sep 24, 2010 @ 08:55:09

    Hello..Their loss..whereas you gained in knowledge and expression..C worked for a paper for a number of years..they are a good neighborhood paper and she had a good job..I used to get annoyed with them because the news was ALWAYS local..when there was so much going on..that is life..there is still a lot going on..and their paper is still a good neighborhood paper..:-)..Peace Tony

    Reply

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