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September 23, 2015 | Fiction

Notes on Tomorrow's Issue

Cady Vishniac

Notes on Tomorrow's Issue photo

QUERY 1: You omitted the OXFORD COMMA, but we have agreed—myself and the editors of the other sections—to always include the OXFORD COMMA. I know you believe you have the right to make the City section according to your wishes but this is a goddamn newspaper, not a loose federation of fiefdoms.

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QUERY 2: You’re using EN DASHES where EM DASHES should go, and HYPHENS where EN DASHES should go. Not only are these errors horrible in their own rights but they betray your ignorance and your inconstancy.

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QUERY 3: You showed up to work drunk again and put your arm around my shoulder when you told me your girlfriend was pregnant. JOURNOS! You offered me your last bottle of Blue Moon and you let the palm of your hand rest on the back of my neck—your bloodshot eyes meeting my clear ones—until the intern rescued us by clearing her throat. I bet you’d make a GREAT father.

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QUERY 4: You have failed to HYPHENATE several COMPOUND MODIFIERS, except for the ones that are actually just an ADVERB and an ADJECTIVE. Those, for some reason, you do feel obliged to HYPHENATE regularly, even though I’m positive your word processor highlights the phrases again and again in an effort to call your attention to their essential wrongness.

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QUERY 5: About half the time, your APOSTROPHES and your QUOTATION MARKS don’t curl around the way they should— “ or ” , not " , and ‘ or ’ , not ' —which is how I know you are writing half of all your articles on your cellphone.

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QUERY 6: I went on break as pointedly as I could, traipsing by your office as slowly and noisily as I could, and then I WAITED for you in our spot in the alley behind the parking lot for the bookstore warehouse next-door to our office building. I WAITED for a half-hour, ready to give you whatever it is that you so badly need, ready to rip off my clothes by the dumpster and take the rest of the day off to move your things into my condo in Somerville. If your girlfriend wouldn’t get an abortion I was ready to help raise the kid. ANYWAY, you never came.

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QUERY 7: You spell WAL-MART as a single unbroken word—WALMART—and you insist on abbreviating state names in a way the ASSOCIATED PRESS officially repudiated in the 2014 edition of the Stylebook, so I know you haven’t checked a Stylebook in two years.

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QUERY 8: You write too many articles about legal weed. We all get it. And if you could stop smoking it in the office!

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QUERY 9: I quit or I don’t, I leave or I don’t, depending upon your response to the preceding. To WAL-MART and HYPHENS and the baby you might have with a woman who is—I can admit this—much prettier than I am. I could walk out of the building and away from this job right now. I could pound out press releases Monday through Friday for three times the weekly paycheck this place sends me, which never clears on the first try anyway.

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QUERY 10: So YOU get to tell ME what to do now. But if what you tell me is to get away from you forever, then I’ll have to look for new work. Don’t dick me around on the reference; your phone number is staying on my resume and that's non-negotiable. I want restitution, a future in which I am employed and therefore still loveable, the ability to split the bill for lavish dinners during which men from Internet dating sites will heap their earnest praise on me. I want a SPECTACULAR recommendation.

 

image: Aaron Burch


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