Killing Trees and the Dirty Books Police

I have come a long way from being offered a job that would “cause trees to be planted” (thus, ya know, saving the world). In fact, I was recently brought face-to-face with the fact that my current job actually does the complete opposite of causing trees to be planted. The question is, am I therefore causing the world to be destroyed?

This sobering moment occurred at a meeting with HR and another new employee, my first week on the job, to discuss benefits (for me, not for the planet, evidently).

Me: Can we check our pay stubs online?
HR: No, we don’t have an online system set up. You’ll just get a paper stub.
Other New Employee: What? Seriously? Can’t we save a few trees? [goes on for a while in this vein]
HR: [sits with his arms folded, smiling…finally speaks up] Really? Let me just point out–you work at a PUBLISHING COMPANY.
Me and ONE: [confused]
HR: Your JOB is killing trees.

Now, let me just add here that I am a big fan of books. The whole debate over whether ink-and-paper books will go obsolete in the face of the iPad, the coming “e-volution,” and the jelly-eyeballed modern human drives me nuts, and not only because my career* is in print media. The thing is, so is my nose, most of the time–and it has been since I was about six.

*Ooh-la-la! She said “career.” That’s what happens when you stop working at jobs that are only good for funny blog posts, folks.

Friend Becca and I recently decided to try making lists of our favorite book at every age, one per year. Here are some highlights of the list-in-progress:

1) Number one, for sure. I made my dad read it to me every single night before bed, and by the time I was three or four, I’d completely memorized it.

When my dad tried to skip a page, I’d catch him and make him go back. My favorite page had a picture of a Seuss-y, fuzzy creature about to sit on a cactus, with the words “No, Pat, no! Don’t sit on that!” I’d bounce up and down excitedly and go, “Yes, Pat, yes! DO sit on that!!” Every. Single. Night. I don’t actually blame my dad for trying to skip pages.

2) The first book I actually read, though, was this one, at age six:

Or it might have been another one from the series (little-known fact…there are thirteen sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz! And then a bunch more Oz books, by L. Frank Baum and also by other writers.) In any case, my mom was reading it to us at bedtime, a chapter a night. I got impatient, nabbed it one afternoon, and finished the whole thing–before my mom was even aware that I knew how to read.

3) Sometimes my reading habit got me in trouble. At age seven or eight, I’d snagged this off the living room bookshelf and discovered that, despite the very boring-looking cover, it was packed with hilarious cartoons inside. There were pages and pages of hand-drawn scenarios showing kids squabbling and parents breaking up their fights in all the wrong ways. It also had checklists of the “how to tell what the heck is wrong with your rivalrous children” sort. I loved it. I must’ve read it at least a dozen times.

One fateful day, I brought it to school for SSR (Sustained Silent Reading). We had a substitute teacher that day. She walked around the room, checking to see that we all had something to read, and stopped at my desk. “My goodness!” she said, feigning shock. “Where did you get THAT? Don’t you know that book is supposed to be for grown-ups?”

I had no idea how to read sarcasm, and no clue that she was trying to be funny. I thought I was holding genuine X-rated material here. I felt my cheeks go hot and quickly stuffed the book under my desk, where I continued to read it, guiltily, until it was time to pack up and move to our next class. I slid it into my backpack cover face-down, and hoped no one noticed. For the rest of the day, I wondered miserably if the teacher was going to report me to some kind of authority figure, like the Dirty Books Police.

Well, I guess now I’m worried about the Saving The Planet Police coming after me. Think they’ll take “Just one more chapter!” for an answer?

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2 thoughts on “Killing Trees and the Dirty Books Police

  1. OZMA OF OZ! I also read that when I was about 6! Or possibly 7. I got it out of the library and read the entire thing THAT DAY. I astounded myself with my stellar reading skills. I loved all the L. Frank Baum Oz books. :)

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