The new boss, same as the old boss

So, funny story:

A little under two weeks ago, my record of employment came in the mail, along with the pay stubs for my last two paycheques at the Gazette. It was about then that it hit me that I didn’t work there anymore. Now I was unemployed, and I needed to figure out what I was going to do for the rest of my life.

As I figured out what that would mean, a week ago Sunday I went on the government of Canada’s website and filed for unemployment insurance benefits. At least it would seem like I was still getting a salary while I looked for a new job.

That’s when Murphy’s Law (or a corollary thereof) took effect. Shortly after I woke up on Monday afternoon, I got emails, Facebook messages and telephone calls from my former colleagues, telling me about a job opening at The Gazette for a part-time copy editor on contract.

The paper is in the process of switching to a new content management system for both print an online, which will notably include a change of page layout software from QuarkXPress (version 3.32, released in 1996) to Adobe InDesign. This will mean a lot of training for existing copy editors, so they decided to hire a few more to help put out the paper. My name, apparently, was one of the first to come up.

Yeah, she’s dumped me a few times, but I keep going back. Funny what love does to you.

The interview was pretty short. It’s not like I needed to provide references. “Can you start Monday?” I was asked over the phone. And just like that, I had my old job back.

There was a bit of paperwork to deal with (actually none of it on paper, it was all getting electronic accounts setup and a security pass reactivated), but at 4pm Monday, exactly one month after leaving for what I thought could easily have been forever, I entered the office and went to work as if I’d never left, stopping occasionally to hear a “welcome back” and a joke from a colleague.

I felt a bit weird. I mean, there was some drama exactly four weeks ago. I sent a going-away email, had a going-away party. Everyone knew I’d be back, even though they didn’t know how or when. It seems they were right.

Instead of venturing into the unknown and beginning on a new path, my unemployment turned into little more than an unpaid month-long vacation, ending the day after the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

This will be my fifth contract at The Gazette, my fourth as a copy editor. And the length is unknown, even to my bosses. It could be measured in weeks or months. It could last forever, or I could be back on EI benefits before you know it. I’ve gotten accustomed over the past five years to not knowing what’s in store for the future beyond the two or three-week notice that’s given on the posted schedule. Living a contract life is a sacrifice I’ve made in exchange for being able to work at my favourite job in my favourite city, and without a wife and kids to support it’s hardly a burden to be occasionally unemployed or underemployed for short periods.

So like I have for the past few years, I’ll enjoy it while I can. Particularly the awful, awful puns.

I’m a hypocrite again. All hail The Gazette.

19 thoughts on “The new boss, same as the old boss

  1. David Pinto

    Gee, should I wish you luck? And how do I do that? I shouldn’t say, hang in there, or something like that, now should I? Actually, you could write a story for the paper about this — what is the etiquette for congratulating someone who a month ago left the paper and now has come back.

  2. Alex H

    Good luck with it! One can never deny their true love, even with spats and the occasional split up.

    Love is stupid sometimes, enjoy the results :)

  3. kate M.


    InDesign is no big deal. You hardly have to learn a thing – it’s more like unlearning the box-bound paradigm of Quark.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I’ve used InDesign before. And my job right now will be to put out the paper the old way in Quark while other editors learn to use the new system.

      My issue is with the change in operating system that will come with the new setup. Going from Macs to PCs results in a significant drop in coolness, or so Steve Jobs has made me believe.

      1. Jean Naimard


        At one point, you have to let go your training wheels.

        Macintoshes are good starter’s computers, but once you start to do some professional work, it’s time to move on to a more serious platform.

        Hint: the right button of the mouse offers you a context menu you can access without having to navigate to the top of the screen. You’ll quickly find out how a tremenduous timesaver that is, and you’ll curse Steve Jobs for keeping you ignorant.

        1. Stephanie Myles

          There is absolutely nothing anyone can say about PCs that will make them better than Macs. N.O.T.H.I.N.G ;-)

          P.S. my hubby uses InDesign on a Mac, and it’s genius.

  4. Joe Clark

    If they’re using InDesign, I want perfect fucking typography. Every goddamned ligature. Excuse mon français. (You have to work to make InDesign type as ugly as Quark’s or Atex’s.)

  5. Vahan

    Every employer is now using this tactic. Hire temp workers, with no real sense of security. This has lead to the decline in quality of products going out, because who really cares, no one will be around long enough to get the blowback. It is a demotivating sad state of affairs the way businesses are run today. They shouldn’t wonder why they are declaring bankruptcy.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      As easy as it is to trash my employer, the job is temporary simply because the work is temporary. In previous contracts, I was replacing someone who was on leave. In this one, I’m replacing someone who is doing training. It’s because of their financial situation that they can’t justify hiring new permanent staff, not the other way around.

  6. Jean Naimard

    Well, that’s good news, congrats!

    Now, for your (un)employment insurance, you may want to contact some “comité chômage” or other around to ask what are your prospects for unemployment insurance once you deactivate your request; that’s very important because I got screwed once when I started working right after I asked for benefits.

    Oh, and if you hated Quirk Xpress, you’ll love Indesign!


    Permalancer. Glad you’re back doing what you enjoy. Looking forward to the posts about the learning curve on the new work flow at the Gazoo. If I was Jed Kahne CFCF would have hired you and Ted.

  8. Maria Gatti

    Glad to hear this. Such is life among us “éternels pigistes”.

    Indeed the real burden of such contingent employment falls hardest on people with children or other responsibilities beyond rent and keeping self alive. (It is children, not spouse, that make the real difference, and the hardest is of course being a single parent and freelancer).


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