A tiny tale about trade printing
by Sandra Hubbard
It would be a good day if it was cut into a “plus,” bad if it was an “X.” He held his breath as he unfolded the waxed paper and spread it flat. The sandwich sat there—whole, no cuts. They knew they were supposed to cut it into fourths. And lettuce! What was going on? He tried to slip the offending leaf from between the slices, but it clung to the mayonnaise. In a bold move, he pulled out his penknife and sliced into the sandwich—top to bottom, side to side. No diagonals. There, he thought, I’m master of my own fate: it will be a good day.
He hoped he was right.
Last night he dreamed that his customer had seen the trade printer delivering the job, hopped into the truck, and drove off into the sunset with him.
“That’s not how it works,” his daughter Amy had told him. “Why would a trade printer want to steal your customers? You are his customer.”
He hadn’t been convinced when Amy had suggested using a trade house to do work that was too big for his presses. She had timed it perfectly to coincide with one of his famous “That’s the last time I send a job to a competitor” speeches. His tirades usually led into a saga about how he couldn’t afford bigger presses with more color capability. This time she was ready.
“I checked references, years in business, quality of work,” Amy had said earnestly about the trade printer she had chosen. Then she had dazzled him with that “you-can-trust-me” smile he knew so well.
I’ll try it, he thought as he bit into a fourth of his sandwich, just this once.
Of course, if everything went smoothly, getting the trade discount would mean he could make a nice little profit on the markup. And, having a trade printer do the work—or part of the work—opened up markets he couldn’t serve before.
“I want to meet him, face to face,” he recalled saying.
He and the trade printer had discussed the menu of services, who was responsible for what, how the job would get from point A to point B, turnaround, discounts, confidentiality . . . and that he would call the trade printer when he was ready. (“I don’t want you bugging me all the time, man,” he had said. Amy had rolled her eyes.)
When he finally made the call, he was pleased to discover that the trade printer had a lot of experience with the type of job he was bidding.
“You’re lucky,” the trade printer had said. “We see this type of work at least once a week. When we first started running these things, we had a heck of a time with scuffing. But, all the bugs have been worked out already. You should have it late tomorrow.”
Later, the trade printer had called back with suggestions on how to set up the job more efficiently next time. “It’ll save you a little money,” he said. “By the way, we can score it for you. But it’s your call, man,” he chuckled. “I don’t want to bug you.”
So, here he waited, chewing a sandwich that had horseradish on it, for goodness sake. Were the people at the deli on drugs?
“Boss, you gotta see this,” someone yelled from the loading dock. He tried to swallow, but the sandwich was dry, so dry.
He looked out his window at a wrapped skid, sitting by itself as the rest of the job was being off-loaded. He had a fleeting thought that it looked like a giant sandwich.
“Dad, phone,” murmured Amy as she headed down the stairs to the dock.
“This is Connie at the Sandwich Store. Honey, ya’ll probably think we’re crazy. We delivered the wrong sandwich. We got yours right here, cut just the way you like it.”
He looked out the window at Amy, down on the loading dock and waving a press sheet triumphantly. It was going to be a good day.
For a list of trade professionals in your area, consult the Northwest Trade Directory in every issue of Printer’s NW Trader magazine. The Northwest Trade Directory lists a wide range of trade services including trade printing— which can be found under the “Litho Trade Printing” and “Letterpress Trade Printing” headings. This story is fiction by the way, but it could be true, couldn’t it?