Before I started this job, I assumed that printing plant tags was like printing wedding invitations: the bride...I mean...the grower...writes what he wants the tag to say, encloses a photo, selects the style of tag, and it goes to the printer. The printer arranges stuff on the printing press, pushes a button, and it makes a lot of noise, and the finished tags come out the other side.
It's a bit more complicated than that.
I've only been there for a week, so I haven't gotten the entire process down yet, but here is how it seems to me. Let's stick with the wedding invitation analogy. You are getting married and need invitations. I'm the printer. You tell me that you need an invitation for a wedding, so I help you select the paper and the color, etc. Once those decisions are made, I need to know what to print, but, strange as it may seem, you don't have that information.
In order to get the text for your wedding invitation, I email a spreadsheet to the minister, who fills in the location and the time of the ceremony and sends it back to me.
I do the same for the caterer in order to get the information about the reception. The caterer gives me the name of a banquet facility on West Market Street, and while that name does not exactly match any of the banquet facilities on that street, it is similar to two different facilities. Neither the caterer nor the bride know the exact name of the place, so we at the office put our heads together and figure out where, in fact, you are having your reception.
You would like a photo of you and your fiance to appear on the invitation. (I know people don't do this, but stay with me.) You want a photo. But you don't have one to give me. So I search Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, your garden blog, the websites of your church, your college sorority, your employer, and the terrorist watch list in hopes of finding a photograph of you and your sweetie. If I can't find one, I get in my car, go to the restaurant where the two of you are having dinner, and take one.
Once I have collected all the information and photos, I send you a sample invitation to check and make corrections. I don't hear from you for many weeks. Maybe you are in Cancun, maybe you are in Intensive Care, maybe you have looked at the invitation and maybe you haven't, but one thing you have not done is email me to say "yes" or "no."
Until six weeks before the wedding.
I receive an electronic missive from you, filled with cryptic notations like, "Reception location incorrect. Shld say Emp. Ballroom." What is "Emp."? Empire Ballroom? Emperor Ballroom? Empty Ballroom? Who knows? I call you to find out.
You are in Cancun.
Oh, and the wedding has been moved up a week, so you need those invitations by Monday.