The Writers Voice
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San Francisco Story
Snake in the grass. Conspiracy. Pasting Groucho Marx eyeballs onto the back of
my head. I must be vigilant. I must never loose my edge. I must always be aware.
I must lock all of my documents lest they be tampered with later. Such is the
Word Processor's credo.
"Update this employees' manual. It needs to be absolutely accurate. It gets
handed out to every one of our security guards and failure to comply with this
manual leads to dismissal. Dismissal is a very serious matter. That's why, since
this is the guide that I use for firing, it must be one hundred percent
Thank you. I'll keep that in mind.
What I was handed to update was a 300 page manual on policy and procedure for
security guards who were posted at various office buildings in and around the
major San Francisco Bay Area. I set out to work.
Day one: Open Format. Choose Styles. New? Yes. Choose elements, Heading One,
formatted to be inserted into a Table of Contents, but worry about that later.
Paragraph style? Yes. Page setup. Margins, headers, footers, Portrait, not
Landscape. On it goes...
"Pubic phones are located at the marked kiosks."
Hmmm...what's wrong with this picture? I noted that Word had not underlined
anything in this sentence with a red line. I read on.
"Pubic access to the building ends at 7 pm."
Again, there was no red line. Has Word clairvoyance been disabled?
"Pubic restrooms are to be under 24 hour camera surveillance, even though pubic
access to the building ends promptly at 7 pm."
Pubic restrooms? Oh mercy...is there any other kind? I did a universal Find and
Replace, "Public" in the place of "Pubic."
Day two: Open file. Apply styles. Run Spell Check. Nothing. Good job. But, what
did I see?
"Pubic must not be able to gain entry through the Delivery Dock."
What is this? Hadn't I taken care of that yesterday?
Find and Replace.
Go to Insert. Choose TOC. Let's see...what did we have here that looked good?
Day three: TOC entry number 15:
"Pubic Assistance in the Event of an Emergency."
I got up from the desk and started plowing through the potted ferns, software
end-user manuals, and pictures of the vacation at the lake looking for a hidden
I grabbed my cosmetic mirror and headed straight to the women's room. I stood
with my back facing the full length mirror adjacent to the paper towel dispenser
and waved the cosmetic mirror around until I could get a clear view of my back.
Hmmm...no signs pasted to my back inviting the reader to "kick me."
Back at my desk, I reran Find and Replace.
Then, I noticed my coffee mug. It was down on the floor. Why was it down on the
floor? I'm not in the habit of getting down on all fours to sip my coffee,
Find and Replace.
Day four: Find and Replace. You never know.
Find and Replace, Control-Y, Control-Y, Control-Y ad nauseam, until my
supervisor came in to collect the corrected manual on a set of discs.
It was finally over. I got through.
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