A Day at the Neopian Times
As a bright morning dawns on Neopia Central, you know, a typical day, the paper boy throws a copy of the Neopian Times onto your lawn and as you settle back to read this week’s paper, you remember that you yourself were once a part of the frenzy at the heart of journalistic excitement.
At the bottom floor of the offices of the Neopian Times, four Faerie Clouds await to lift inquirers, copyboys, assistants, reporters, and editors to their separate domains. To the outsider’s eye, it may seem like a mess, but to the insider, this is merely routine. In fact, the hustle and bustle of the plaza entrance is relaxing compared to what happens after those five minutes of bliss. You join the throng waiting at Faerie Cloud N-3 and when the Cloud appears, you find that you are pushed by the crowd into the Faerie Cloud, which is quite spacey. You are also quite surprised that the Cloud can hold that many people, or even hold at all! Around you, the aforementioned employees of the NT are all wearing expressions that yell the same thing: HURRY UP AND GO! Ding. And where does that sound come from? Oh, now this is a sight. The copyboys all exit the Faerie Cloud and retreat to their separate cubicles on the Assistants Floor, hastily grabbing their list of things-to-do at their individual work stations. The Faerie Cloud quivers and you progress on to the next floor: Reporter Floor.
Expectant reporters anxiously fumble around, shifting coffee cups bought from the Coffee Shop and avoiding spilling coffee on coworkers as the last such incident brought a catastrophe from the Editor. (Who will remain unnamed, as the name is imposing enough.) As the Faerie Cloud glides to a stop, the reporters rush out to get to their pens and get onto the assignment of the day. The décor of the Reporter Floor is tasteful, albeit messy, and all the reporters work with the grace and beauty of Zen desks, as well as their various hidden compartments. But before you can take in all the sights provided by the third floor, the doors slide close and you ascend once more, with fewer occupants but still cramped and with the same palpable anxiety in the air.
You try to converse with an uneasy Quiggle dressed conservatively, which makes you notice that you are the only one in overalls and Wellington boots while the others on the Faerie Cloud are all in black or white. As the Quiggle is so quiet, you give up and shift your notebook from one arm to another. And again and again, until a Peophin (how did he get here anyway?) snaps at you to stop before he stabs you with a Hissi pencil, which makes you switch spots immediately with the Kacheek with specs next to you. Ding. The Art Floor comes to view, painted stark white with occasional stubborn spots of paint on the floor and various cabinets and easels set up. Is that a beret on that Usuki? How fetching. Before you have more time to contemplate this floor, the crabby Peophin somehow makes the Cloud go on by tapping the side of it and you proceed, but not without a reproachful glare at the offender. The Techo clock at the back of the Faerie Cloud ticks on and right before 7:55 am NST, the Faerie Cloud stops.
A babble of voices immediately erupt in the Faerie Cloud (maybe it’s a sign of things to come?), but no worries, in the Faerie Cloud tiny Light Faerie lamps are on once more, and we continue on to the Short Stories and Series floor. Now this is a masterpiece. Although they have the similar cubicles from Reporter Floor, the occupying Neopets are considerably happier. The air of creativity abounds, which probably is the cause of the happiness on this floor, and more Neopets rush out to this floor, leaving you and three others, including the disdainful Peophin. Before the doors slide together once more you catch a glimpse of a line of people clutching sheafs of paper with hopeful expressions on their faces, and you hope that you don’t have the same look on your face.
At last, the Cloud comes to a rest to reveal the Editorial and Layout Floor, and at the very back you see a wall of transparishield. Before you can wonder what’s behind them, you notice a Cybunny wearing a Taelia style coat waving at you impatiently behind a desk marked by a card which read, “Neopet/Human Resources”. And before you have time to ask why there was only one Neopet/Human resources desk at the NT and why it was on the fifth floor, you realize the reason why you are here in the first place. You are an aspiring layout artist. Which would belong on this floor, right? As you turn to double check what floor you’re on, (Editorial and Layout, good), the Cybunny thumps her tail impatiently, and gestures at you to sit down. So you do. I mean, you have to; she is wearing a Taelia style COAT!
The Cybunny holds out her hand, which you promptly shake, and get a look of confusion in return. The Cybunny lowers her stare at you and you instantly feel a quiver down your Bruce spine. Her name it turns out, is Cynthia. How fitting. She asks you with a hint of impatience, “Where is your resume?” which is what you were supposed to hand to her instead of shaking her hand. You gasp in horror at your blunder and hurriedly hand over the scroll she asked for. She looks at it, and satisfied, asks you what you want to do. So you tell her, and she doesn’t speak. She just stares at you. Wondering if you were going to end up like this if you get the job (vacant stares, a hint of drool?), you ask her if she is all right. Cynthia replies, regaining her composure and rearranging her files, “But you must be joking! There is only one layout artist, and that is Bill.” And horrors of horrors, she points to the back at one of the rooms behind the transparishield walls, to... the Peophin.
You don’t remember agreeing to become his assistant. You don’t remember being walked into the back room. All you know is that the Peophin’s name is Bill. But you find yourself behind the very transparishield walls and inside the Layout Room, facing a stony faced Bill, who sits on a stool behind the funky Blue and Orange desk, which you note to be likely purchased from Fine Furniture. The desk is cluttered with glue and scissors as well as snippets of edited articles. Eyeing the scissors, you edge farther away in case Bill gives into another rage attack. Maybe you RUN right now before he does anything DRASTIC, you think.
But you don’t. Bill coughs and you focus and pay attention. Focus, you remind yourself, you need this job to buy the new lot of land for your Neohome in the Central. But when Bill starts off his rules by stating that first of all, you are there to fetch him smoothies and health food and Hubert’s Hotdogs, you gasp loudly and immediately think of quitting. Because haggling with Hubert is an absolute waste of time!
Before you can argue, a well-dressed tall, unidentifiable being steps into the room and quietly mutters a few words to Bill, who scowls deeper as the minute goes by. When your benefactor (for obviously he was that, to have saved you from brain combustion like that) leaves, you assume that this saintly person was probably the Editor! But before you can ponder further, you are handed a handbook by Bill and pointed at another funky B&O desk at the corner. As you settle in, you glance around furtively for the mysterious “Editor”, to no avail.
By the end of your first day as an assistant layout artist, you are sore from cutting and pasting and photocopying and printing, but nevertheless happy at yourself for sticking up to Bill and his scissors for a whole day. Even though you have not been able to see the Editor or even the mysterious benefactor, you decide that this was the right choice. Yes indeed, and you count your blessings on your Bruce fins. (How on Neopia did you survive this job with fins?) First, you aren’t in one of the cubicles, nor being yelled at by the Editor, for although you think he is kind, you have heard that he is known to have a few... tantrums. And well, you have a nice office, compared to what you saw on your way up. And you are on the top floor, albeit in the catacombs, so you have a better chance of fresher air. Before you continue on, you see Bill arguing with a reporter, judging by her props, about the length of an article. You try to intervene, but before you say anything you decide against it, judging by Bill’s temperament. But then you see the reporter’s pained expression and you utter something along the lines of “We can fit it in, Bill.” When Bill turns and fixes his Peophin eyes on you (and you wonder again how he manages to get here), you discover in that moment that you have been ABSOLUTELY quiet for five hours, listening to the snip-snip of Bill’s scissors all the while. And you’re a rather talkative person. Your vision zooms in on the pair of scissors in Bill’s hands, and remembering your phobia, you stand up, abandoning your already cluttered B&O desk, and walk out, yelling in a Bill-worthy voice, “I QUIT!”
And now you sit, sipping the same coffee from the safe Coffee Shop cherished by the NT employees, reading the Editorial section and wondering why you quit: because of intolerance of the sounds a scissor makes, or because of your fear of the scissors themselves? Or maybe, because you never found out who the Editor was, or whether of not your benefactor was in fact, the Editor? Anyhow, as you close the paper, you decide that if anyone asked you if it was wise to become a layout artist you would say two things.
“But you must be joking. There is only one layout artist, and that is Bill!”
“Only if you can laugh at scissors.”
**Note: if there is such a Bill at the NT, name was given on pure coincidence. Also, the Quiggle’s comment on layout artists not being an artist? Disregard that. Thanks.
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Never focus your eyes on the center. If you do, there’s an annoying little potato that always crosses a corner, and you completely get it wrong. One of the wisest things is to keep your eyes on the sides of the screen to see incoming potatoes.