Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Growing Pains

"No, the spine is not white. Are you listening to me? It is NOT WHITE."

Mr. Fixit, the company finance guy, was on his cell phone, pacing the office and yelling at the printer. He alternated yelling with asking questions of people around him.

"Marie, the digest we sent to the printer today. What color is the spine? Is it white?"

"No, he thinks it's white because the dummy book was taped together with white tape."

"Then what color is it?"

"How do I know? I do new material; no one shows me the reprints. Blue, wasn't it? Where's the original book?"

It's a reprint, not brain surgery. We weren't making the color up ourselves. But it was only the third book to be published in the history of the company. Of course mistakes would be made.

Mr. Fixit went racing around the office.

"Who has it? Who's got the digest?

No one knew.

"I think the spine was blue," said the Senior Art Guy.

Several people dug around, opening cabinets and shuffling through piles of comics until the smiling young office assistant located it in the editor-in-chief's files.

"Blue! It's blue."

Mr. Fixit was on the phone again.

"Make it blue. Bright blue."

I took the phone from him. "Make it about 60 cyan, 10, no 20 magenta, and a little yellow…"

"I have the file," said Senior Art Guy. "Let's go sample the color."

"We'll call you back."

Great, I thought. Problem solved. I went back to my original material.

A second later, Mr. Fixit was yelling at the printer again.

"Blue, no, it is NOT white. Why are you not listening to me?"

By now, I was starting to think that something was wrong. Why wouldn't the printer shut up about white? Although we have a lot of language problems as everyone at the office and at the printer was from different countries, and we all have a hard time understanding our many accents.

"Mr. Fixit," I whispered, "Maybe we're wrong. Let me see the file. Don't yell at him any more. The problem could be on our end."

"I'll call you back."

I followed him over to the giant color LCD monitors in the Art Department. The front cover was on the screen.

"What are you looking for? What are you calling it?" The webmaster was now checking out the cover and asking Mr. Fixit what was up.

"Swine. We need to see the swine."


"Isn't that illegal in Kuwait?"

"No... I mean... spine. We are looking for the spine."

I was giggling too hard by now to say it clearly, but I got it out.

"Mr. Fixit, there is no swine on that cover."


"Look. That's the front cover. Where is the swine?"

"Isn't that a swine?"

Now the Junior Art Guy jumped in.

"No, that's a bleed. A white bleed."

Mr. Fixit dialed the printer.

"I am very, very sorry. Can you please send someone over to get a new file? I am really sorry. The mistake was mine."

Junior Art Guy made our swine, while I berated people to always be sure they were right before yelling at anyone.

Just another day in publishing in the Kuwait City car wash district.

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