Somewhere in Angie’s mind, a voice was repeating that whatever she is doing or about to do with this article is useless. The echo of that voice was so profound that no matter how hard she tried to push it back, shut it down, distort it, replace it with better words, overwrite it, cover it, play a different sound track… it kept coming back to repeat the same old refrain which kept saying that the big old boss will find more small mistakes and will end up evaluating her work on those tiny little hurdles without paying any attention to anything she had fixed.
For the last two days, she has been dealing with this article. She finally got a “guideline” specifying what to do, what to fix and the format to be used. Finally, after almost two years, she got her guidelines. Before that, she had to find her way alone through darkness, and through long tiring depressing meetings in which the big old boss would talk about anything but not about proofreading, editing or formatting. While we are at it, why don’t we also mention that in those meetings the big old boss would be interrupted a thousand time, would receive and make long telephone calls, would receive students, people and visitors, would answer emails and send other emails, would spend long time looking for an article or a piece of information in his maze of office, under the piles and piles of papers and books, and would inevitably ― every single time ― mention his health, his health problems and his lack of time? And after every single meeting, Angie would leave his office, running, fleeting, hating herself and wishing she could do something about all that waste of time. Every time, she would work on an article for the last year and a half, she would highlight things to be checked and she would ask questions in writing, but every single time, her questions would remain unanswered and her highlighted items would eventually be forgotten.
Today, Angie had to work for almost 8 hours on one very long boring article in which one professor (they only dealt with professors) was arguing about the use of the masculine mode to address the feminine mode and vice versa. The article in Angie’s eyes was long and boring. And for her, the examples used to prove the author’s point of view, could be considered ― always in Angie’s humble point of view ― typing mistakes or very old ways to deal with grammar.
She kept asking herself while reading this article, proofreading it and formatting it, about the importance of her work, of her position and of anything she was doing. She couldn’t find any reason to be working on this article. She couldn’t find any single proof that in 10 years, she would want to remember working on this article or even remembering her days dealing with similar articles. Some people take pride in their work, they talk about their work, brag about it, tell people what they did in their days, but Angie couldn’t find anything to say about her work. What would she talk about? The quotation marks that she had to change from straight to curved? Or the placement of the footnote number after the comma/dot and quotation mark (.”4)? Or the double space after the dot? The single space after the comma? (mind you, there is no space before the dot/comma) Or is it the way references are written in footnotes and in the bibliography? Would she reiterate the importance of commas and dots in citing references in footnotes and in the bibliography? Would any of that make the world a better place? Or contribute to a better life on this earth? Would it make the day brighter? Would it make people happier or less unhappier? Would it give food to hungry people? Would it stop starvation, unjustice, slavery, human traffic, war, the use of chemical weapons, traffic, overpopulation…? Would anybody notice her work? Would anyone appreciate her work? Would anyone notice how meticulous she was with every single word? Would she get a promotion? A salary increase? Anything? A chocolate?
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