Rubber Stamps Contribute to Editorial Laziness

Rubber Stamps Contribute to Editorial Laziness

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 1997

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are firing up the way-back machine, and republishing a column from 1997. However, out of sympathy for our readers, we have edited and improved it. A lot. Like, "it would have been a whole lot easier if he had just written a new one" edited and improved.

We're extremely lazy as a society. Some experts have referred to my generation the "microwave generation." But that got too hard to say, so we just call ourselves "microwavers." And we're trying to find a way to shorten that.

We expect a quick resolutions to situations, and that most of our problems should be solved in less than 30 minutes with only two commercial interruptions. And now, many people wonder if our microwaves are too slow, and have taken to cooking food with a flash furnace.

But some of the things that people have invented to make our lives easy have actually made them more difficult. First, there's the microwave oven, a machine that will let you explode a baked potato in less than 10 minutes, rather than waiting the required two hours in a regular oven.

Computers are another time saver that have given us newer and faster software and hardware with great time-saving features. Now, you can accidentally forward that email of blonde jokes to the entire department, and be fired in hours, instead of days.

Remote controls are the classic example of laziness. Nothing reinforces the image of the Couch Potato more than a TV remote. But it doesn't stop there. We have remotes for the TV, another for the VCR, a third for the stereo, and a fourth for the CD player. But wait, there's more! We have remotes to turn on the house lights, start your car while you're still in the house, and even remotes for car radios.

That's right, there are now remotes for your car radio, and not just the one that's installed directly onto your steering wheel either. No, these are the little wireless remotes that you hold in your hand.

So now, if your arm is three inches too short to reach the radio from the driver's seat, you can just hold the remote and change stations on the radio from a few inches away. Most people would just lean over a little bit, but not you! You're Mr. (or Ms.) Technology! You use a remote control to operate your gadgets, even though the remote itself is long enough to span that extra three inches.

However, for sheer laziness, nothing beats a rubber stamp. I'm not talking about those rubber stamps which you can use to stamp the dates on a piece of paper, or the one you use to stamp your boss' signature on the memo approving your 20% pay raise. While certain stamps are useful and necessary, they can also be used for some really obnoxious reasons.

Several years ago, I submitted a book manuscript to a publisher in hopes of getting a polite rejection form letter (I've stopped trying to get a publishing contract, and just collect polite rejection form letters instead). This guy was so lazy, he returned my submission letter with the words "Not interested -- Ed." stamped on it in blood-red ink.

Rather than printing out the standard polite rejection form letter that started with "Dear ___________," so they could misspell my name with a blue ink pen later, the editor picked up his rubber stamp, smacked it once on the ink pad, smacked it again on my letter, shoved it back in the self-addressed stamped envelope I had provided, and mailed it back to me.

When I received my rejection, I was so disgusted by his editorial rudeness, I felt like stamping "Addressee gone. No forwarding address" on his forehead, but I realized that would be mean and petty. So I did the mature, adult thing instead, and put his name on every chronic bedwetter information mailing list I could find.

Another time, I received another rubber stamp rejection from an editor who had stamped "DOES NOT MEET OUR NEEDS" in red ink. Much like his "Not Interested" rubber stamping counterpart at a magazine, this insensitive lout couldn't even be bothered to print out a simple form rejection letter thanking me for my submission, but that it didn't meet their needs at this time, blah blah blah. How freaking hard is that?

No, instead this mouth breather had gone to the effort to buy a rubber stamp and ink pad in order to more efficiently expedite the crushing of writers' souls. Not too surprisingly, the magazine folded less than a year later, and the publisher was out of business. I guess he didn't meet his readers needs.

I suppose it's a good thing I never actually met the guy in person, or else I might have left a message on his car using the precursor to the rubber stamp: a hammer and chisel.

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