One of the few pieces of literature I remember studying in college was Samuel Beckett's “Waiting for Godot.” Ironically, while I'm a student of the written word as a journalist, I never enjoyed nor retained much about any type of literature.
One of the few pieces of literature I remember studying in college was Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Ironically, while I’m a student of the written word as a journalist, I never enjoyed nor retained much about any type of literature.
Except “Waiting for Godot.”
It’s an odd piece about two men waiting, waiting, waiting under a tree for Godot, who is never identified nor ever found. There are a handful of interpretations of Beckett’s play as Vladimir and Estragon maintain their watchful vigil to no end.
Nonetheless, it has always been my interpretation that Vladimir and Estragon were in search of their identities. They felt they were unable to understand their own existence so they thought that Godot would offer them the answers.
It’s something I suspect we all search for, our identity. Our place in life. Some call it our “legacy,” but that sounds a bit grandiose. A bit self-important. As my dad reminds me often, we all put our pants on one leg at a time.
My dad’s personality and “take no prisoners” attitude was — and still is — his identity. He speaks his mind, usually unaware of who is around him or the consequences of his words. For more than 50 years, he wrote a column in his weekly newspaper aptly entitled “Country Tub Thumper.” That means, loosely, to argue for or promote something vigorously.
Many columnists, to create an identify, name their columns. Tracy Beckerman, a columnist for a GateHouse Media news service that we use, calls hers Lost in Suburbia. A fellow newspaperman in Iowa calls his Sour Grapes. The column names usually reflect a snapshot of the writer’s personality, background or profession.
You get the picture.
When my dad and I bought the Adams County Free Press (he bought it, I worked it), I started my own column not to be left in the shadows of others.
As a newspaper Baby Boomer, I was among a handful of newspaper people caught in the transition from the letterpress days to the world of computers. My parents’ newspaper was printed via letterpress, a system of type production using molten lead cast through a linotype into lines of lead type. The lines of type were then laid into columns with handset headlines, all of which was squeezed together by special locks into a steel frame approximately the size of a newspaper page.
Once the stories, headlines and lead-based graphics were locked in to place, the entire form was carried to a press were it again was locked in place. Rollers applied ink to the type, paper was pressed against the type and a printed product was created.
But once in a while, the type wasn’t securely locked into place and the entire masterpiece fell into a heap on the floor. That was called “pied type.”
And thus the name of my column was born: The Pied Typer.
It could represent my flummoxed attempted at typing; it could represent my jumbled thought processes; it could represent a life that one moment is uneventful, and the next is a pile of confusion.
Heretofore, however, The Pied Typer is reborn.