My Strike Diary:
My Strike Diary:
How You Can Help
By Jon Carroll
Since, like so many modern Americans, I telecommute --
that is, I send my column into the newspaper via modem -- I
realized that I had no choice but to picket my own house.
On the other hand, since I am a worker and a dues-
paying member of the Newspaper Guild and have the word
"Solidarity" tattooed on my biceps (actually, the word is
"Cynthia," but that means "Solidarity" in Albanian), it
seemed unfair to accuse myself of unfairness. I have always
tried to provide the very best conditions for my workers,
and I allow them to take as much time as they need to finish
So I decided to picket Xywrite. Xywrite is the word
processing system the heartless bosses at the Chronicle
force me to use. Understand: The Wordstar I used on the
Kaypro I purchased in 1982 is a better word processing
program than Xywrite. If there was ever an evil tool of
capitalism, it's Xywrite.
Besides, there was nothing else to picket. If I was
going to show solidarity with myself, I needed to choose the
most logical target.
I made up a sign that said "Xywrite Is Xywrong" and
marched in front of the house. When people stopped, I
explained that, for me personally, the issue was squiggly
line brackets. People at real newspapers have those; why not
The mail carrier asked if it was OK to cross my line to
deliver the mail. I said yes, but only if he promised not to
use Xywrite. "Heck, I don't even use marijuana," he
remarked. It was a welcome laugh in a bleak day of labor
But obviously, that option is not available to you. You
could come over to my place and help me picket, but what if
we don't get along? Then there'd be the threat of violence,
and the neighbors would have to call in goons from
Nashville, and the next thing you know Emerald Yeh would be
doing stand-ups in front of my rhododendrons.
So here are some other tips:
(1) Cancel your subscription to the Chronicle or
Examiner. You've probably already done that, but do it
again. They don't know. Cancel every day, sometimes twice a
day. Be polite, but in a rude way.
(2) If you see someone reading a scab paper, go up to
them and offer them a small gift. A can of soda, perhaps.
They will thank you and ask why. You will say: "Anyone so
pathetic as to be reading that messed-up collection of
elderly wire stories needs all the love that society can
offer. I'm a union person, and I forgive you. Just this
once. No really, have a drink. I'll watch."
(3) Drive by one of the picket lines and honk. That
really does help. It seems like nothing, but it isn't. This
is not quite as funny as I'm making it seem. I mean, it is,
but also it isn't.
We're hanging in; you hang in too.
Go back to