I bet you didn’t know there was a word for the sixth of an inch that stands between headlines and articles, captions and photos, bylines and pages. It’s about 12 spaces wide, or high depending on your perspective, and it’s a word that you learn on day one when you step into the Old Gold & Black office.
We use it as a noun; we use it as a verb; heck, we even use it as an adjective. You can pica an unpica-ed page by adding picas. Now say that twelve times fast and call it a verbal pica.
While it feels insignificant sometimes, I thought I would, in my usual fashion, turn it into a larger cheesy metaphor for what the student newspaper has taught me, before I graduate in a few short weeks. (I know, I know, I retired in December and I won’t shut up about my new-found free time, but what’s retirement without one final imparting-of-the-wisdom?)
First of all, the pica taught me that the small things are important. They keep the big things in place, keep things in perspective and allow us to maintain somewhat of a standard of consistency. When it comes time for you to graduate, you remember the smaller moments that you didn’t even put on your Snapchat story: laughing with your friends on the way back from the library late at night, that one time the Pit didn’t entirely cook an egg and singing along to a playlist you collectively made during late productions nights.
Second of all, the pica taught me about the incredible significance of space. There’s a reason it’s the biggest key on the keyboard. We use it all the time, in so so many areas of our lives; yet because it’s relatively unappealing and empty, it doesn’t get a lot of credit. You need to be aware of the space you’re putting between your academics and your extracurriculars, the space you’re giving yourself to eat, sleep and absorb the world around you and the creative space you need to try something and risk failing.
Third, although the pica attempts to keep things perfectly in place and spaced accordingly, there is no such thing as perfect. Sometimes perfectly-picaed pages still didn’t look right, and you have to shift things to 10 spaces instead of 12 to make everything fit. I don’t think we ever had a perfect OGB issue, and I’m not sure they ever will, because perfection is not worth the time it would take to ensure. However, there’s a beauty in imperfection, but that’s a piece for my nonexistent blog.
Finally, it’s the people, and the type-face characters, who don’t get recognition who deserve it the most. The stories that don’t cross our radar are the ones that, perhaps, need to be told the most, and it’s the people who quietly make incredible impacts on campus and don’t ask for credit who deserve it the most. Without the pica, things would dissolve into one another, words would literally blur, and without verbal picas and verbal pauses, people wouldn’t breathe between their sentences enough for you to get a word in.
Now, for a quick piece that I couldn’t metaphorically tie into the pica.
Ask more questions than you answer, more questions than you think anyone could answer. Heck, ask me why I’m writing this because I’m not even sure I know.
If there is a limit to asking too many questions, I have yet to find it. Through the OGB, I’ve had the incredible opportunities to interview a number of people across our campus community and in our alumni network, including Ricky Van Veen (founder of CollegeHumor) and Jordan Rae Kelly (Chief of Staff for the FBI’s Cyber Division).
However, a lot of the time, it was through the last-minute questions I asked at the end of an interview, or the tangent questions entirely out of curiosity, that led to the most insightful answers and meaningful stories to tell. While it can be tempting to tell your own stories (my friends know I’ll talk forever if you let me), the newspaper always reminded me that you learn a lot more when you keep your mouth shut and that your voice probably shouldn’t be the loudest in a room — not by a long stretch.
While my professors might disagree, and my GPA might sigh (it’s heard this excuse before), I truly believe that I’ve learned just as much, if not more, from being on the staff of the student newspaper here at Wake Forest. OGB staff, I love every single one of you and your attempts to correctly pica your pages.