Friday, 12 March 2010

the write stuff

any regular readers will be aware that i spend a lot of my time working with a bunch of morons. quite a bit. everyone does, i'm nothing special. it's hard to avoid when almost everyone is a moron.
i - for one - am one.

recently i asked for some pens for my department. some sharpie permanent markers to be specific. they're pretty useful in my line of work, for putting temporary labels on equipment and bushy eyebrows on sleeping technicians. and they're advertised by david beckham, a big player in the world of high quality stationary equipment, so they must be good.

so anyway, i asked for a few new sharpies as ours had all disappeared over time, probably accidentally home in people's pockets, into the arts & crafts cupboard in my lounge, or something.

after some filled-out forms and a few other levels of pointless bureaucracy my request was authorised and it looked like my journey to pen-ville was to be as smooth as a sea-lion's brunch.

imagine my surprise, when right at the last hurdle i received an email from an admin assistant asking me to justify my request:
Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I have been on leave.
Could you give me more details as to what the markers will be needed for?

what? you want details on how i'm going to use some pens? when they've been authorised by three separate managers higher up than you?

the word 'details' jutted temptingly out of the email, and cheekiness beckoned like a pole dancer with a mortgage.

i replied:
hey there manuela,

you asked for some more helpful details on the use of felt-tip pens. please find some helpful details below. i severely hope they are helpful and detailed enough.

we use the pens for writing/labelling sound desks, microphones, screens, various bits of equipment. the unrivalled beauty of permanent markers is that they are able to write on PVC insulating tape (available in most good DIY shops), which is what we use as the basis of our labels. the labelling is likely to change many times each day, so it is not just a case of making a permanent label using a labelling machine (we do have one of these, but as i mentioned earlier in this sentence - it is not a perfect label machine for the labelling job).

a good black permanent marker on some PVC tape will provide a bold and clear label, even at times of low-light or dense atmosphere. it will also remain on the PVC tape when you use the equipment, rather than other pens which will rub off immediately after application. perhaps try to write on your PC screen with a biro, for a similar effect.

a première example of the PVC tape/permanent marker combo is for labelling our Sony UHF Synthesized Transmitter UTX-B1 radio microphones. you can mark each microphone with the name of a presenter, thus providing an efficient and professional service when multiple speakers are presenting at an event. you can also quickly change the labelling in times of rapid label-changing emergencies, so the whole procedure is frighteningly adaptable.

we will use markers for marking up sound desks, where the desk channels are regularly changing. please re-read the above paragraph for examples of just how good this system is. (remember to replace the words "Sony UHF Synthesized Transmitter UTX-B1 radio microphones" with "sound desks" or you won't gain anything.)

if you ask any AV engineer worth his salt he will name the following things as his most important tools:
PVC tape, Leatherman, Sharpiepermanentmarker-pen.
if he doesn't, you should take steps to get him fired. i hope you will.

in all seriousness, they are vital to our work, and they help us work to a high level. we've always had them. they are as standard as gaffer-tape and batteries. if there's an issue, perhaps we could have a barcode system where we sign them in and out. and/or have security check us each time we leave the building. i would happily swap someone rummaging around in my underwear for the ability to write names on stuff.

i hope this helps. i look forward to some pens.


events audio/visual team leader and all-round jolly nice bloke

the pens arrived three days later.
winner = me.

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