“Above the Fold” chapter 1 “Greasemonkeys” #newspapers #women #jobs 80’s

This is a rough draft…

The true tale of what it was like for women at newspapers 1981 – 2001.  The merger era.


by Adrienne D. Wilson

Chapter 1

writing to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISmgOrhELXs


The last of Fiesta’s confetti still blew across the Plaza filled with dry yellow grass where the human stampede had crushed the green down into nothingness.  That happened every year, it had happened in my childhood, it had happened the year I smiled at Gabe and bought his taquitos from the Lion’s Club, when the old time newspapermen did things for their towns.

“You let me know the date and I’ll let you know your options.”

He wasn’t Gabe.  Gabe was dead.  He died of a heart attack right after the buyout when the short little Florida boy promoted the greasemonkey to take his place.  You know the type.  They wear short-sleeved shirts with pocket pen protectors.  They weren’t white collar, and neither was the job, but I had fallen in love and I was just out of UCSB that summer.  I was getting married.

I looked at him behind the cheap desk he’d gotten.  Nobody liked him.  Most thought him a buffoon, and his father had been a mean guy. Nobody liked him either, but that’s how it went in what they called the basement.  It was in the bowels of the building, down where the stink and the oil and the wax stuck to the tables, and your clothes.  There were fumes.

He was waiting.  He was asserting that cocksure newfound power he was heady with.  The cocksure cruelty in those dead blue eyes.  What he would do next?  Was going to change a lot of things forever.  But I don’t want to think about that now.

“I’ll let you know your options…”

Years later a friend told me that for a waitress job she wanted, the manager got her in a back room and told her to get on her knees.  She was going to have to learn about “service.”

I had worked there for three years already, and I wanted to keep my job.  What he thought was sitting across from him was a little mouse.  He was wrong.  He helped to kill Gabe and I hated him for that.  It must have made him feel real, real good to finally get to change out of those filthy blue coveralls he wore, bossing all the nice men around who had worked in that grim little cage where they had to fix all the mechanical things that went wrong.  Some people without degrees rose by kissing ass and climbing the corporate ladder.  He was one of those.  He’d gotten himself a promotion.

“We can’t give two people the same day off,” he said, with that half smile that had a retarded edge to it.  That’s how he walked.  With a lurch, like a goon in those cheap short- sleeved shirts that came off the rack from places like B-grade department stores. I looked at the stripes and the buttons. “So I guess that’s too bad for you,” he said.

It was going to be my wedding.  I worked for a newspaper.  There was no honeymoon.  If he hadn’t have killed Gabe, there would have been.  Because when I first came to work there it was like family.  The older men were kind.  They were good men.  Like Lions.

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