Designers Pt.3 – Not good with machines

I have hired many people over my 28 years of working. The craziest have been press operators, with designers coming in a distant second.  In the 25 years that I have been in printing I have probably hired about 12 designers.  A few have worked out very well.  There was the virgin Mitch and Sherri who has worked for me on more than one occasion.  And there have been some that were forgettable either in there brevity or uninspired work.  A few were fired for cause and a few quit because they didn’t like the job.

Maria came on board on day about 3 weeks before Christmas.  We were very slow then, as we were most years around that time, so we figured it would be a good time to get her in house and able to learn things before we got busy.  During her interview she showed us her very extensive portfolio of work.  I make it a point to ask these designers when interviewing to bring some samples of simpler things like letterhead and envelopes, if they have any, since that will be a majority of their work.  She didn’t bring anything remotely simple, but we continued the interview anyway.  I then explained about the job and how there is often not much room for creativity.  Most jobs are pretty straightforward things like business cards and such, and the few times you get to actually design something, you are usually following customer directions.  She seemed OK with that so we continued.  I always have a simple design test to see what they can do and how fast. It involves reproducing a business card with he pieces provided while being times and then a separate change to make the card ‘better’.  She did both very well, completing the simple card quickly and correctly and then making a few changes to the card to vastly improve it without taking to much time.  She was hired

Another point I make to all the designers is that they WILL need to know how to wait on customers and run the copy machines in an emergency.  Everybody backs up everybody (except running the press) just in case.  So 2 weeks into her employment it’s time for the copier training. We had a customer that did 2 or 3 jobs per day that were all small, but just the right size to train somebody on.  A typical run was maybe 250 sheets single sided, folded and stuffed into a #10 envelope.  We had 2 of those in that day so I ran the first one with her watching.  We went over all the machine controls, how to load paper and how to unjam the machine.  She seemed a bit apprehensive, but still eager to try.   She said that other than computers machines were ‘not nice’ to her.  The whole shop is nothing but machines, so this is going to end well. We finished my run and now it was her turn.

We had 2 black copiers at that time.  Both were Canon machines and one was a pain in the ass.  That is, of course, the one we were on that day.  The job started out running fine until it jammed half way thru.  She opened the front door and started to try and unjam the machine. She sees a piece of paper that is way back in the machine and decides to reach in there to get it. When she pulls her arm out with the rouge piece of paper, her entire sleeve is black from bits of toner.  She hit the right spot somewhere in there and got it all over her sleeve, arm and hand.  Oh she was not happy. She stands up looking at her sleeve  and arm and starts to cry.  Then before I can stop her, she puts her hands to her face as she is sobbing.  Bad move.  She heard me start to say ‘Stop’ so she moved her hands off her face and said, between sobs, “what?”  All I saw was a girl who has her whole right side of her face now covered on black toner.  She looked like Two-Face but with toner.  I try not to laugh but it isn’t working very well.  Then our press guy comes around the corner to see what is going on.  He has less tact than I do and just falls to the ground laughing.  A very real LOL and ROFL.

She runs to the back to try and clean herself off so  I start yelling at her to use cold water, warm water makes the toner set.  Did she listen to me?  What do you think?  Maria was fairly dark skinned to begin with, she now looked like she had attempted to do a blackface and failed miserably. It will wear off in a few days or less, but for right now, unless she wanted to use a scrub sponge on her face, she was stuck. Oh, and she also quit right then and there.  At least the rest of us got a good Christmas laugh

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