Mt Pleasant News
http://mt-pleasant-ia.villagesoup.com/p/seven-months-later-what-i-have-learned/105699

Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

Seven months later: What I have learned

By Steph Tahtinen

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

The other day I realized that I’ve now been working here for seven months. Then I started to think about how much I’ve learned over the past seven months. I can now get to Wayland and back without getting lost like I did the first time I went there. Although it still takes me awhile, I can somewhat interpret a budget spreadsheet.

What I really started to focus on, though, were the random, seemingly useless things I’ve picked up on over the past seven months. Things I didn’t think about before but are now a part of my everyday life.

For instance, when it comes time to submit an engagement photo, or any photo for that matter, I have a checklist of tips in my mind. After working with so many photos, I know what will convert well into print and what will not.

For one thing, although wearing a dark shirt against a dark background and soft lighting can look dramatic when in color, it just doesn’t translate well in black and white. The clothing ends up blending into the background, and it has the appearance of a floating head.

Secondly, I will make sure to check my pose. Maybe it’s from staring at photos too long while formatting them or laying them out on the page, but some poses just look awkward.

Speaking of awkward things, it can sometimes be awkward to call people because I cannot read their handwriting. I’ve gotten to be pretty good at interpreting handwriting over the months. It helps if I have a larger sample to compare letters or if it is something from a regular submitter, as I am more accustomed to their handwriting.

I’ve learned that the phone book can be my best friend in handwriting interpretation. If I am trying to read a person’s name, I can look up what I think it says in the phone book, and if the person is listed I know I’m correct.

Sometimes I am at a total loss for what something says, so I have to contact the person who submitted the information to ask what it says. When this happens with birth announcements, I always feel really bad calling. The contact person is usually the mother, and I’ve noticed that they always sound really tired when they answer the phone. I feel guilty, thinking I’ve probably woken them up from a much-needed nap and I always hope the ringing phone did not wake the baby.

On the subject of birth announcements, I’ve learned that the average baby is 19 1/2 inches long at the time of birth. Now, I don’t exactly have the statistics to back this up. If I had the time or inclination, I could go back through the archives and do some calculations, but math has never been my strong point. Nevertheless, I’d estimate that about 80 percent of the birth announcements that come through my hands have had 19 1/2 written on the length line. Check it out — we put birth announcements in on Wednesdays.

During the six weeks I covered the record page desk, I learned that the fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $127.50. I always buckle up, but I’m especially aware of it now as I don’t have that kind of money to spend. Likewise, while the cost of a speeding ticket varies on how fast the driver was going, most tickets are $114. This knowledge certainly has me keeping an eye on my speedometer.

Then again, I’m also reminded to behave by the fact that if I were to be pulled over or get a ticket, the record of it would be faxed to my workplace the following morning. Good thing I’m a law-abiding citizen.