Sunday, March 11, 2018


There is one in every office or factory; that person who no one knows but is always around fixing everything.
It could be the secretary down the hall you ask to type your memo instead of your own office manager to get a quick print perfectly positioned on the page with no typos or white-out ready for your approval and signature before making copies and folding them into inter-office envelopes and one on the office bulletin board without having to take a break or get a cup of coffee. It could be the guy who clears the paper jam while everyone else stands around the water cooler complaining they can’t get their work done.
Most don’t know the person’s name or what department they work with or if they have a title, but whenever there is a problem, he or she is the person to look for.
In my years, he was called ‘Claude’. He was the #1 stop when trying to find an answer to a problem without going through the chain-of-command. He was the one who could find a lost picture or an article from some special section or artwork not used in six months.
A newspaper is a place with tons of information and no one knows where any of it is. Once a newspaper is printed, the focus is on the next one and no library was ever organized to efficiently sort all the ‘data’. The news department had it’s system and the production department had their system and neither worked very well. The process of microfilm, page negatives and newsprint clippings in folders with request forms that took forever to find a source or not were frustrating and nonproductive. Like the public library the newspaper did not have a Dewey decimal system.
Shifting through the dysfunctional operations of storing data I found Claude. He had a little space jammed into a closet but so many people pointed me in that direction I found he was the guy. If he didn’t have my request at the tip of his fingers he knew who he could go to get the information. He’d stop whatever he was doing to give the best customer service with no anticipation of monetary reward or political accreditation.
Oh, did I say Claude was disabled? I don’t know the description of his handicap but he had blurred speech, staggered walk, awkward movement but with a little bit of patience one realized Claude knew more than about the operation than most in offices.
Claude also lived near me with his mother and a few times gave my wife and I a ride home from the store. Not always sure what he was saying, he had a pleasant attitude and a good laugh. I think Claude is gone now, but was one of the characters that helped me and will be remembered.
Why think about him?
Years later as the operational process of producing a newspaper was completely redefined, a digital system was installed to accumulate and sort and define thousands of elements linking them to an assigned number to be routed after use to storage or deletion. Sounds simple but it took awhile to coordinate.
Being the ‘hip’ new millennium management style, the new system was offered to the users to name. Instead of the XLZ204-6 or whatever the manufacture’s name, the employees were given the chance to rename what they would use everyday. A name to define the wonder and frustration of their daily tool and the suggestions rolled in. Silly ‘Star Wars’ names ‘My Little Pony’ and most just didn’t really care. Like your car, you don’t care about the name as much as it gets you from point A to point B.
When asked my thought?

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