Sunday, May 15, 2005

Another summer at the Mercury

I must admit, it's funny that I'm working for the Manhattan Mercury again. I spent the last summer interning for them as a writer for their "K-State Edition," a special copy of the paper that is produced every year and mailed to all incoming freshmen.

It was that internship, I understand, that got me the internship in Washington. And it was clips from my internship in Washington that got me my job with the Mercury, not as an intern, mind you, but as a part-time Staff Writer.

"Oh let the circle, be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by."

There is another interesting connection. At Scripps, cans of soda were sudsidized for employees at 25 cents apiece. The Mercury has a similar program: Bottles of coke are 75 cents and bottles of Pepsi run 65 cents.

But the differences are massive. First off, there's the smell. There was no smell to the Scripps Media Center, at least none that I noticed. The Mercury has a very distinct smell to it; one that I cannot place but reminds me of the varnish and paint section of my Uncle's old lumberyard here in Council Grove.

There's also the big freaking press in the building that they spin up daily to print the Mercury, something missing in the all-digital Scripps bureau. There's something wonderful about having your words printed in the same building as where they were typed. The Washington Post's reporters don't have that, Scripps's Washington Reporters don't have that, and if I recall correctly, the New York Times' reporters don't either.

And there's one final difference: haunting. That is to say, the newsroom of the Manhattan Mercury is haunted. They haven't named whoever it is in there, but there's definitely something along the lines of "not alive" in there.

How do I know? Sit in there, working at night, and sooner or later you'll hear someone suddenly start mashing on a keyboard. And then they'll stop, just as quickly. There's no one else in the building, let alone the room. Trust me, I've run through the entire place on several occasions trying to catch whomever it was, only to confirm that I was alone.

Not to mention the common disappearance of important papers and the like, or the switching of lights when, once again, you're completely alone. Not that I'm complaining. It's always good when a workplace has character.


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