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 breakfast.

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 me?

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 strife.

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.

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