The job of a proofreader is often the least appreciated at any organization and goes far beyond the scope of making sure the word public isn’t mistakenly spelled pubic.
Don’t laugh. I’ve caught that error in the past.
We are fact-checkers, legal liaisons, and basically a safety net between the organization or its clients and the public. In my case, the public is the auto-buying consumer who will review details of specific models in order to make an informed decision. After all, a car is a big purchase and things have to be right in general and in the eyes of the Legal Department.
But often the job demands ridiculous requests from any number of internal people who don’t realize or understand how the Creative Services Department operates. Sure, it’s easy for them to add a copy block to the middle of a brochure and think nothing of it – unless that block requires disclaimers, in which sometimes everything will have to be renumbered from that point on. You should see my notepad on my desk with said renumbering notes scribbled all over it. A real work of art.
And it takes time – a lot of time – to get this done right along with other changes and sent back to the Production Artist. A pat on the back for getting it done under a time-sensitive deadline? Forget it, pal. Just take your lunch and be back in an hour.
Flash-forward to today’s daily huddle in which Project Managers, Production Artists, and Proofreaders go over projects currently funneling through so that we all have an idea of our priorities. It’s also a time to make any other announcements that might affect the team.
Once projects were discussed, one PM spoke up and informed us that she had given her two-week notice and when her final day would be. Shocking to say the least as she has been with the company for some time now, and we lost another PM last week. We’ll be down two experienced PMs come July and will have to start the onboarding process with two fresh faces at that point. No pressure with everything we have going on.
When she was done with her announcement, I spoke up in order to bring attention to a recent change in the formatting of the websites we build.
“Before y’all run away, I’ve got something to say too.”
And the looks on the faces of everyone in the room were priceless. There were gasps, sighs, and other sounds of disapproval before someone said something.
“No no no, don’t even tell us you’re leaving,” one PM said, mouth agape. There were other mutterings in the background I couldn’t decipher but I can assure you they weren’t expressing joy. All eyes were fixed on me – and looking rather bulbous. I laughed, smiled, and paused a moment to build up tension – but didn’t really answer their question.
“You’ll know when I’m moving on,” I said. “But that’s not what I want to talk about.”
Always leave them guessing.
I then went into detail about the topic I wanted to discuss and gathered some input. In fact, it’s such a mess that it will require a second meeting tomorrow in order determine how to streamline the process.
With that, the meeting was over and all were relieved to learn that I wasn’t going to be the next one to make a hasty exit and they expressed it nervously. It makes me wonder what’s going on or if I should see what else is out there, but a longer commute would hardly justify the difference in pay, if any.
But just based on the reaction of all in the room it’s safe to say that, despite my impressions of being part of the most unappreciated department in the office, I’m a little more respected than previously thought for the job that I do.
And being in a position where kudos and thank-yous are rarely expressed, it felt good to get that kind of feedback and to know that we are an integral part of the machine.