Tuesday, 19 August 2014

in the post: my salinger year

Joanna Rakoff's My Salinger Year winged its way to my house this week courtesy of an Australian Writers' Centre competition.  I recently heard Joanna talk on So you want to be a writer and I could have listened to her all day.  Her memoir recounts her time in New York answering writer JD Salinger's fan mail.  If Joanna writes as well as she talks, this promises to be one of my all time favourite reads.

Winning the book wasn't as simple as sending off my name and address - I had to write a short account of the funniest thing that happened to me in my first job.  Keen to find out what it was?  Here goes...

While this wasn't my first job, it was my first proper-Melbourne-job-in-an-office.

I was working as a marketing assistant at an industry association.  I spent a lot of time on the photocopier, but wasn't ever clear on what to do whenever those annoying flashing lights appeared.

One night, I was working late and I eventually realised that the toner cartridge needed replacing.  There was only one other person in the office.  I knew it wasn't worth asking her to do it for me, she would just say I had to learn how to do it myself.

I opened the huge beast of a thing and did my best to insert the new cartridge.  Something didn't quite work and the next thing I knew, I was knee deep in black toner.  It went all over the floor!

My co-worker heard me screaming and came in to find the biggest mess imaginable.  If you think of how many copies you get from one toner cartridge, you can imagine the scene of black dust in the photocopier room.

I maintain a fear of photocopier parts to this day and in every office since then, have deferred to others to change consumables.  You might say, I'm tarred for life.

How about you?  Any similar tales in the office cupboard?!

PS More wonderful AWC podcasts here.


  1. Read it quickly so I can read it when I come over!!!

  2. Well done! And the book looks really interesting! I don't remember this calamity, maybe it was buried too deep to tell me....or I've forgotten, probably more likely! Love Mum

    1. I probably never thought to say - it wasn't the most exciting of jobs!

  3. First of all, congrats on winning the book, which sounds like a wonderful read (in fact, I will probably order it myself). Secondly, the office story: what a horrifying thing to happen!! I'm literally scared of the copying machine thing at school - now even more so!

    1. Thanks Isabelle! Hopefully this will provide you with a ready excuse for not having to deal with the photocopier - sometimes just refilling paper is enough of a battle!

  4. You finally got your reward for suffering that awful trauma; turning it into a winning competition entry! It's true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger...! X