The stress of this job has killed our social, physical and spiritual well-beings. Still, we have learned more than two things that have made us the people we wanted to see in the mirror when we were 7 years old.
Back then, we had dreams. Then, they were dashed by an abusive husband who coveted whiskey more than our aspirations, the son of a gun. But, having been at the Alligator for some time, we’ve learned that whiskey and abusive husbands aren’t everything.
For example, one of the more than two things we learned at the Alligator is that the clock never strikes more than the timer allows. In fact, it strikes more than double the timer does. If you’re not making sense of the metaphor, let us clarify with a personal anecdote that will illuminate the figurative language.
When we were children, we looked up at the clock. The clock was wooden, and had carvings of alligators up and down the sides, chomping away at the seconds, as they were. We didn’t know it then, but those alligators spoke of our destiny. So, in our freshman year, we applied to join the Alligator copy desk, with stars in our eyes and egg timers in our pockets.
See, as copy editors, we were forced to work under tight deadlines. Looking at stories and correcting their grammar felt like arduous tasks at first, but eventually it began to feel like clockwork. The ticking of the second hand became a soothing sound that comforted us all our days in the office.
On the final day of the semester, the clock broke. This was when we knew we had to leave. So, we spent two years packing up our things and saying our goodbyes to the people who loved us. We didn’t have much, and we didn’t know many, but somehow, it took two years all the same — two years of copy-editing, packing, saying goodbye and climbing the ladder that is the Alligator.
We bet they’re all ready for us to get the hell out. We think it’s time to mosey down the long road into the sunset, the sunset being a place that isn’t the Alligator. Although we’re not graduating right now, and we will still have to work endless nights on homework and such, the sunset will still be nice to view. See, we’re walking toward the sunset but we cannot see it, because there is a hill in front of us, that hill being the second thing of more than two things that we learned at the Alligator.
That hill, believe it or not, is the family we made in the office. That doesn’t mean the copious babies we had while in the office, you silly rascal. But rather, the many people who had to tolerate our constant presence and incessant phone calls. We are grateful that they didn’t hurt us very much physically, and we are even more grateful that none of them actually followed through with the restraining order.
Speaking of which, one night in the office, we were typing away at our computer, minding our own business when, all of the sudden, the metro editor frothed at the mouth and began chanting Scandinavian last names at the broken clock. Clearly, this broken clock meant something to all of us. So, we took it upon ourselves to fix it, for the betterment of the frothing metro editor and the office as a whole. But not everyone enjoyed the fixed clock.
The assistant sports editor had always hated that clock; we think it hurt his family at some point in the past, but we never bothered to ask. The haunted look in his eye said it all. Moments after we had fixed the clock and hung it on the wall, the assistant sports editor, without anyone else seeing, threw a football at the clock and struck it off the wall. Enraged, we picked up the football and threw it back at him, when he wasn’t looking. The football drilled through his clavicle and left him hospitalized for five months, during which he was fed little more than gruel and peach Jello.
Thus, a restraining order was proposed. It broke our hearts to see so many hands raised in affirmation of the restraining order, but we understood that the situation looked bleak. Alas, our copy desk family swooped in and saved the day, attesting to our moral and spiritual characters.
And so we learned the second of more than two lessons: Family comes first.
What are the other things, you may ask? Well, readers, perhaps you’d find it best to discover them for yourself. Following the restraining order fiasco, we lost the respect of many of our coworkers and saw fit our time to leave the Alligator. Two years later, we step away from our position and impart to you these final words:
Never forget the broken clock or the people who will defend you for fixing it.
Amanda Price is a UF linguistics sophomore, and Michael Smith is a UF women’s studies super senior.