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March 15, 2004 | by  | in Opinion |
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Reflections on Orientation

Here is something weird I noticed about Orientation week: there are two sets of doors at the top of the Student Union Building, right? One set was propped open for most of the week, funnelling a tailback of mostly poor, textbook-laden people out and mostly wet, windswept people in. At peak times, it could take several minutes just to clear a few metres. The other set of doors was unlocked, guys. And despite pointedly using them whenever I went in and out of the building, people who saw me still stood in queues patiently waiting to use a door they wouldn’t have to push. I can’t explain it; it’s a mystery.

So I was all set to write a polemic on the class action suit that’s been brought by veterans affected by chemical weapons in the first Gulf War, but Goodshirt is playing next door, and I can only think in snatches. It’s been an interesting night: the Salient office has the only toilet accessible to the backstage of the Union Hall, so we’ve become fairly intimately acquainted with some of New Zealand music’s luminaries. Rodney and Gareth, for example, have visited us twice. Joe from Autozahmm likewise. Various members of Elemeno P have come and gone, although it was quite some time before Lani made an appearance. Sometimes I hate working in an almost all-male office. I’ve been here for 14 hours! No one giggles when I walk into the office. Or at least, not in a good way. Our photographer just walked in and said, “Who’s been smoking in here?” That’s all I’m saying about that. And that it was Elemeno P. Hardarses. Now our office is smelly, and I missed the entire concert.

On the bright side, Goodshirt’s Gareth just came back. Have to say I’m pretty damned happy about that. That’s three for him.

Here’s an excellent question: What are we all still doing here at 2 o’clock on Friday morning? It’s the most unbelievable cop-out to use this space to crap on about my job, but we’ve been signing up volunteers a-go-go in the last couple of days, so I have the spiel pretty down. And when your head’s buzzing with a concert you heard a couple of rooms away, your stairwell’s been used for nefarious purposes and you’ve been brazenly cavalier with your own deadline, needs must.

Monday: In a crunching reversal of my working life experience, Monday is the height of great days at work. Why? The new issue arrives! The first set of deadlines is still a day away, so I can still kid myself that people will respect them. Some people even get their stuff in today, which is extra-gold-star tremendous. Monday’s the day for talking features, returning days’ worth of calls and talking seriously to people about making deadline, this time. If you’re sending unsolicited stuff, this is the day to do it: the issue plan may still have space in it, and I will still be checking email.

The rest of the week: Well, this is turning into a twisty little piece of self-indulgence. It’s 4a.m. The week is an enormous blur post-Monday. Deadlines come and go like so many missed buses. Or, not so much missed as completely ignored – or maybe more like a taxi you order and then make wait for half an hour while you get ready. Except the cab can’t charge you a waiting fee, because you’re only a volunteer and the driver’s really nice and understands that you’ve got a lot of other work on and doesn’t want to push you so hard, even though, let’s say “he”, wishes you hadn’t committed to something you couldn’t deliver. But “he” knows you’ll eventually get in the cab and “he” can drive you wherever you damn well please. Or, you can just not get the cab at all, and the really, really nice driver and designer have to drive around all night Thursday looking for someone else while sub-editors jump in and out of the back seat and ask if there’s anything they can do to help.

So far, the mag’s been put to bed at around 7a.m. Friday. Which means that Fridays have become weird nothing day. I get home, sleep, come back to work, make ineffective gestures at my desk and go back home to bed. Life? I hear it’s fun. And you probably think I’m a miserable cow who’s nice to people about missing deadlines to their faces and then abuses her position to moan about them in print. Well, yeah. That’s one of the things that makes the bajillion-hour weeks worthwhile! As is the fact that there are so very many keen, talented writers on campus. If you want to volunteer for anything – writing one news story, or reviewing books every single week, email with an outline of the things you’d like to do. Or come in and see this place sometime – it’s messy, but we should have the smell gone by Monday.

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