Sunday, January 20, 2013

Meeting Robin

It was 1980 and I was headed to St. Louis on a press check. [A press check is an on-site, last-chance proofing step for the main purpose of achieving color accuracy. The press is set up and ready to run with your project but, before it does, the press operator brings you a proof on the actual paper right off the press.]  It was my first business trip, my first press check.  I was flying halfway across the country to be picked up by someone I didn't know and stay in a motel steps away from the plant because every four hours I was going to be called to “okay” another signature.   [The pages of a book are printed in "signatures." A book signature is a section of pages (1-64) sheets of printed on one large sheet of paper that's then elaborately folded over and over, then trimmed, and ready to be stitched into the books binding.]

The plane was full of males.  Men in every seat, in their pin-striped suits, smoking their cigarettes and talking to one another. 

This was the time of life when women were more and more in the workplace but still trying to think like men, act like men, even dress like men — but with a feminine twist. I was dressed in a pale lavender subtle herring bone suit carrying my big bulky briefcase with way too much paper.  I was trying to avoid eye contact, hoping no one would sit next to me when surprisingly, another female sat down.  The only two women on that whole 727! The gate agent had seated us together, God bless her. Even more surprising, this woman was tall, blond, thin and confident — the exact opposite of me in every way.

That self-possessed woman turned out to be Robin. She was going exactly where I was, for the same reason, being picked up by the exact same person, and she knew that I was going to be on that plane.   Quickly, she dove right in and put me at ease by talking shop.   Not only were we both in publishing and knew lots of the same people — we even lived within four blocks of each other!  By the time the plane landed, we were already friends. 

For the next two days we ate all our meals together, crisscrossed going back and forth to the plant to check on our books, and talked, talked, talked before we split off — me to Jefferson City where my book cover was being printed and Robin back to Manhattan.  

But before we got off that first plane, she said something to me.  I didn't know it at the time — didn't know it for years but what she said would alter my life:

“Are you seeing anybody?”

                                          “Not seriously.”

“I have a brother I want you to meet.”


  1. I love this and never heard it before! Love you and thinking of you all...

  2. I remember this story--it's a great one. Love, Susan