Thursday, June 21, 2007

So you say you wanna work in publishing?

Every Wednesday morning, the publication staff assembles for the Update Meeting. The purpose? Go through the items on the publication schedule and identify those that are not where they should be, and take steps to rectify the problem before somebody loses an eye or a limb.

During one particularly stressful period last fall, I left my office, announcing over my shoulder that I was headed downstairs to the meeting.

From one of the cubicles housing the people whose timesheets I sign came the announcement, "Dead woman walking."

I hyperventilated on the stairs.

Okay. Granted, I've been known to indulge the occasional hyperbolic statement. But you'll just have to agree to take it on faith when I tell you that when this particular meeting goes wrong, there is no saving the day. It's an all-out scramble to fix whatever it is you fouled up--fast.

But when the meeting goes right? Somebody rings the bell.

It's as simple as that. Make the date, and they ring the bell. And hearing that bell is like finding the one pair of slacks (in your size) that brought you into the store in the first place; it's the haircut you finally got, being invited to pull into the lane in front of the other traffic, or the realization that today is Saturday and you forgot to reset the alarm.

Since we introduced the bell, I don't hyperventilate so much. And it's not because I've gotten better at avoiding the pitfalls that can get a project off schedule. Dude--things happen. But I'm not thinking so much about the possibility that today may be the day somebody in that meeting decides to kill me and eat me. I'm thinking, "I wanna hear 'em ring that bell."

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