Reflecting on my time as a copy editor, the little details mattered most -30-
(Courtesy of Grace Ye)
By Grace Ye
June 10, 2020 6:45 p.m.
I’ve been a copy editor at the Daily Bruin for four years now.
I know the term “copy editor” doesn’t really mean anything to a lot of people, so I’ll just give you a brief idea of what the people sitting at that large table at the back of Kerckhoff 118 do.
The job of the copy editor is to comb through an article to make sure it is accurate and consistent down to the last detail. So, for the duration of my undergraduate career, I’ve spent hours making sure all the crafty commas are where they should be, that every “amongst” has been stripped down to its American counterpart “among,” that so-and-so event really did happen at so-and-so time and place, that professors really are professors and not just lecturers, and that this line — and this line – and this line – are all used properly.
To put it simply, a copy editor lives in the details.
So perhaps it makes sense that, when COVID-19 messily gnawed off the last chunk of my undergraduate career, what I really mourned was the details. When I thought about what I’d be missing, I didn’t really think too much about those big, traditional senior moments, like commencement in Pauley Pavilion or graduation photos at golden hour or dipping my feet into the Inverted Fountain.
Instead, in true copy editor form, I focused on the little things.
I thought about all the times someone asked me when Kerckhoff Coffeehouse closed, all the times someone asked if I could plug in their laptop charger for them, all the times someone explained to me how baseball or tennis worked because I could never remember.
I thought about all the times we’d order Veggie Grill together on the mobile app, all the snacks we ate in the conference room, all the times someone called the printer and we’d all hold our breaths waiting to hear the magical words, “Yep, looks good.” I thought about all the crises – because there were a lot of them – that we somehow managed to solve, even though it was hours past deadline.
I thought about the path I always took to get home after a long shift, a path as worn down as my favorite pair of shoes, a path that has led me through the dark for four years: Turn left because the front door’s locked at this point, take a right but say goodbye to all the people turning left, go down the stairs, stroll through Bruin Walk, struggle up the hill, disregard the light at the crosswalk because there are never any cars this late at night anyway, take the second path to the right, and from there it’s straight on till morning.
I thought about all the candy wrappers scattered around the Design computers, all the times we fought over a comma at 1 a.m., all the plastic spoons we took turns stealing from Ackerman Union and stored in an origami boat, all the witty remarks we’d write in our audits.
I thought about all the custom emojis that have sprouted from niche inside jokes about hummus and corn and Paul Koretz and sour cream, all the times I uploaded PDFs of the newspaper first through Cyberduck and then through email, the irony of having Windex as the sole cleaning solution in a windowless room, all the times someone helped me craft the perfect headline.
I thought about how, if you stayed in the office long enough, you could hear the loud, clashing hubbub of shouts and laughter trickle down to a tired, meditative murmur.
I thought about all the times I’d joke about quitting but then stay way too long in the office.
I thought about that, and so much more.
What can I say? I’m a copy editor. The details matter – and they mattered because of the people I got to share them with.
So, to all the generations of copy editors who took the little things as seriously as I did, thank you. Thanks for keeping me around. This was all for you. Cheers.
Ye was a Copy contributor 2016-2017, slot editor 2017-2020 and News contributor 2018-2020.