FIRST thing I noticed when I pushed aside the plastic flaps was the breadth of the pressman descending the metal rungs from a top unit. Nice ass, round, full, but that wasn’t what struck me. Nor did I think further than safety precautions at seeing the thin, bleached-blond ponytail flip out of his collar as he, without so much as noticing my entrance, leapt up and, with the toes of one foot on the edge of the conveyor, bounded over the rapidly exiting newspapers to adjust the ink keys on a far unit.
Like hell he hadn’t noticed me. At six foot one with size fifteen shoes that cleared a corner before I did, much to my annoyance, everyone noticed me.
His backward baseball cap left much to be desired—well-worn and splattered with a variety of colors—but his shoes held me captivated: Chuck Taylor high-tops, red, without a single splotch of ink. Unable to move, I continued to stare as he crunched up the newspaper in his hands and chucked it toward a waste buggy. Still, he ignored my presence. Even as he greeted another pressman who’d entered from an open doorway to my left and stood no more than two feet away. After a brief, heated exchange, which I could not hear above the whir of what sounded like a rickety water system and the clanking and grinding of the thirty-year-old press, Converse Man scrambled up another ladder.
I approached pressman number two, introduced myself as Mark Hicks, his new production manager, and inquired about this accident waiting to happen, demanding to know who the idiot was and what he was doing in my pressroom.
He shook his head, then leaned to within inches of my ear and shouted, “That’s Ben Moody, our pressroom supervisor.”
The pressman offered what I gathered was a sympathetic smile. “Come on. Ben’s got it handled—short run, eight-page tab. I’ll show you your office.”
Just what I needed my first day on the job: an invitation to play king of the mountain from King Kong. I could envision Moody atop the high stack of units, pounding his chest and screaming a challenge. It was only a matter of time before my pressroom super and I locked horns.