Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

pizzaboxIn newsrooms everywhere, it’s considered tradition for the crew to order a ton of pizzas during an election day—whether the delivery guy gets a generous tip for (likely) bringing the order on a dolly, I guess depends on the newspaper or broadcaster’s respective size and/or budget.

But when the long night is over amid a flurry of quoting winners and losers at their respective HQs and talking with voters, the newsroom will have one more issue to deal with aside from running out of caffeine for the page layout crew in the morning’s small hours: What to do with all those empty boxes?

The sensible thing to do would be to just go and chuck them in the recycling bin but it’s important for journalists to have a sense of humour (cheaper therapy for coping with the job stress than seeing a shrink), so why not be creative? A lot can be done with all that cardboard.

Here’s a list of silly, albeit (mostly) practical uses for all of those empty, grease-stained pizza boxes.

Makeshift umbrellas: It just doesn’t feel respectful wearing the newspaper you work for over your noggin during a soggy day. As for digital editions, iPads not only don’t cover much of your head but also will probably break after taking so many raindrops or wet snowflakes. So what’s the next best thing? It would be a pizza box, of course. You’ll look ridiculous but it should work. Bonus is, unlike a traditional umbrella, you don’t have to use one hand to hold it if you position both ends on your shoulders just right, in the event you have to write something while standing up.

Office ceiling protection: If you’re one of those of people who sharpens pencils and throw them up into the ceiling tiles waiting for a callback or an important email to arrive, holding a few boxes up with some strips of scotch or duct tape at the spot above your desk is the perfect opportunity to eliminate your boredom- or procrastination-induced vandalism.

Build a cardboard Stonehenge model: In between sitting and hitting F5 on the keyboard for up-to-the-second poll results, take some glue and piece together a model of Stonehenge. Maybe it won’t be big enough to be a life-size model but should be enough to build one in equal size as seen in the classic rock ‘n’ roll mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap.

Give away to that one longtime columnist who’s also in a pub band that plays classic rock covers as an inside joke. Who knows, he might use it onstage when his trope plays at the company Christmas party.

Tower demolition by office chair: Unleash your inner Bam Margera from Jackass. Tower up the boxes and push your co-worker sitting in the chair as fast as possible towards them and see how much of a mess you make. Make sure the office chair has wheels or this won’t work. I bear no responsibility if you choose to do this while the incumbent mayoral candidate’s in the newsroom talking to the editorial board; hopefully s/he’ll understand that newsrooms aren’t exactly formal workplaces.

Desk height adjustment for your laptop: Desk too low for your typing comfort? No more outdated phone books to go around? Pile up a pizza box or two.

Sweat absorption: Cut into pieces according to your needs. Place a small oval-sized piece into grandpa’s old fedora for your 1950s-era reporter Halloween costume to absorb any forehead sweat, or if you’ve had a long shift and are starting to suffer from an embarrassing case of swass (sweaty ass) that may soak past your pants, place underneath your chair.

Quick-and-easy desk-clutter storage: Accountants sometimes deal with clients who store their receipts, income slips and other tax-related items into what they call the chaotically-disorganized “shoe-box method.” Why not adapt the “pizza-box method” for your newsroom desk? Any old notebooks or council agendas around that might be worth keeping, just in case of a new development or libel chill? Stuff all that paper in there.

Keep them: Nail one up on the part of your wall meant for your old lanyards, if you have one. Not only will you have that lingering smell of that special shift with you forever, but, if you’re lucky, you’ll have the pizza joint’s phone number right there in case you want to order another one of those delicious pies again.

In the rare event you find yourself having to interview the owner for your story on the establishment’s failed government food-safety inspection, then you’ll have no need to Google the phone number first. What can I say? Seconds count when breaking a story.

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Analog Coffee on 17th Avenue, sitting at the second window stool from the left. Photo: Zoey Duncan

Me (not pictured) and my hand at Analog Coffee on 17th Avenue, sitting at the second window stool from the left.
Photo: Zoey Duncan

I’ve always imagined that lattes would, by default, taste a lot sweeter than they actually are—almost like some sort of cutely-decorated dessert that you sip. To my surprise, it was a little bitter (my fault, I didn’t add sweetener) but in a satisfyingly-rich sort-of way.

Lattes and downtown coffee shops, as a lot of you may know, share symbolic (albeit stereotypical) association with the likes and pastimes of the young-adult, urban, condo-dwelling, Apple-cultist demographic—one that I am no part of, minus the “young adult” part.

I live where I grew up in Cedarbrae; a neighbourhood on the west end of the suburban fringes of Calgary. Men in my family work in carpentry, construction or mechanics. I’ve chosen a different career path, but still have simple taste in a lot of things, particularly coffee. I’m content with a cup of 7-Eleven joe with cream and sugar before the work day, standing in line with fellow labourers decked in checker-patterned Dickies jackets and duck pants.

I’m a self-described blue-collar bum and some have told me my flesh-and-blood demeanour fits the part well.

I’ve worked for nine years, on and off, as a residential drywall finisher (it’s a less dirty phrase than “sander”). From starter shacks in McKenzie Towne to estate homes in Heritage Pointe; and townhouses in Panorama Hills to renovations in Mount Royal, I’ve done them all and everything between.

I wear another hat as a writer/journalist. I’m a first-generation university graduate who majored in communication (journalism), and this first post about my first latte is my renewed attempt at trying this blogging thing-a-ma-bob again.

Why write about a first latte? It’s been a while since my last attempt as a writer at uncovering the extraordinary in the everyday—so I’ll try with me telling you about my Tuesday morning.

I met an old J-school classmate I haven’t spoken to in a while, who lives in the inner city, on 17th Avenue to talk a bit more about research projects we’ve been doing for our old university. We share common passions for social media and digital storytelling and boy, does she know plenty about effectively utilizing the tools. Yes, she earns that brown-nosing sentence.

Upon my confession that it was actually my first latte, she was quick to capture the Kodak-errr… Instagram moment.

What drove me to go for the latte instead of the regular coffee? It was an ordinary across-the-counter decision backed by my motivation to major in journalism to begin with. I thrive from hearing and learning from other walks of life that are different from mine but haven’t done it as much as I should have since leaving J-school. Maybe it’s just an excuse, but working a construction day job, then in the evenings, doing copy editing and web production work for alt publications from home can leave me nestled in my own little world, which can be too much of a bad thing.

It’s always wonderful to re-connect with fellow scribblers I respect who are all walking unique career and life paths of their own. Urban or suburban; latte sipper or double-double gulper; white collar or blue collar; employed or freelancing, everyone I encounter has something to share that I can learn from.

It isn’t solely the event of my first latte, but I choose it as the perfect symbol marking the beginning of getting out of my writer’s mental rut, where I admittedly have been for a few months now after years of working really damn hard through university. I’ve always been practising communications part-time in editorial or web production positions after graduation, but it’s time to blow some dust off of my own byline—starting with the baby step that is this new blog.

Does this mean I’ll blog at uptown coffee shops and stop getting my morning fix from corner stores? Probably not, but I won’t mind having another latte with you if you’re having one (I’ll add sweetener next time)—the world of fancy-schmancy coffee will be just one of many new things for me to experience in my young life ahead.

There will be personal ramblings with my occasional special dose of cheesy, sentimental introspection. I’ll share memories of my own life. I’ll engage with you and ask you something and encourage you to leave a comment. When you see my byline somewhere, I’ll link out to it.

Will there be another post correlating drinking latte with writer’s reinvigoration? Doubtful. For now, I’ll just say welcome to “Pronounced [Floo-g]”, my friends.