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07 Features Framed in time

Kellie Morrissey develops the idea that printing photos is a picturesque job.

I work in a cluttered, wooden- floored square measuring about six foot by six, boxed off on all sides by counters, machines, computers, and therein I develop photos. I do other things, too - this square is sit- uated in a far corner of a moder- ately sized, busy, and understaffed pharmacy - but I think the things I do in the photo lab are the things I like best about my job.

In order to really enjoy

working as a photo lab operator, you have to be a little bit naughty, I think - a little bit voyeuristic. After all, you are, day in and day out, standing at a conveyor belt,

waiting for people’s photos to slide out - it’s hard not to be inquisitive, and even though most of the time you’re processing photos of in- sipid-looking nights on the town, negatives so badly under- or over- exposed that they’re unreadable, at its most boring it is still fascinating - this job affords you a glimpse into lives that you can’t get from Face- book. In a thousand pictures I’ve picked out places I’d like to go, clothes I’d like to wear, things I’d like to do.

I like it so much because

it is never boring - we all have at least a passing interest in other

people’s pictures - and there is al- ways something to do, even on days where the rest of the shop floor is dead and quiet and devoid of even the most occasional cus- tomer. The clicking and humming of the processor is somehow reas- suring, and the hiss and warmth from the printer is soothing once winter rolls around and you’re pro- cessing photos of bawling kids on Santa’s lap. On days where there is nothing to do anywhere else, in the photo lab the tiniest job becomes a joy - tearing tape from leader cards and stacking them neatly, cutting negatives, running checkups that don’t really need to be ran. It’s somewhere to hide in plain sight when you’ve been working long hours in that most depressing sec-

tor - retail - and need somewhere to stop - or start - thinking.

Old photos are the best.

We don’t do much restoration work, but lately customers have been spilling envelopes and en- velopes of old photos over our counter and asking us to copy them, to fix them up a bit. It’s end- lessly interesting to a voyeur such as me whose family photos seem to date back to 1990 and no further - in these photos, people just seem to look different, dress differently, live in different places and occupy different pockets of time and space. Last weekend I processed twenty photos in which I delighted in picking out one man, over and over again - dressed like an Irish farmer, tweed jacket, occasionally wielding a pipe, he was also in- credibly handsome; a darkening over his lip that could only have been a pencil moustache, he was

A Day in the Life of… Keith O’’Brien, Student Union President

Features Editor Margaret Perry investigates what our SU chief gets up to from morning until night.

Whether it’s from his years as a UCC student, his presidential cam- paign posters or his strolls around campus talking to students, virtu- ally everyone knows Keith O’ Brien, our Student Union Presi- dent. But as president and head of the student body, what does Keith actually do on a typical day at the office? I headed to the Student Union offices to find out.

It’s evident from Keith’s

hectic work schedule that there is no such thing as a typical day in the life of our Student Union Presi- dent. Officially working from 9 to 5, he’s often in at 8 for early morn- ing meetings with the other mem- bers of the Student Union – Deputy President Daithi Linnane, Welfare Officer Padraig Rice and Educa- tion Officer Greg Higgins. Today, Keith has a conference call with the USI, the National Students Union at 6 o clock. The Student Union members rarely leave the office at 5pm and take it in turns to

work with the Student Patrol from 9pm to about 3.30am. As the pri- mary representative of the UCC student body, it’s Keith’s job to make our voice heard on both a local and national level. This, I dis- covered, involves meeting with people constantly.

On a typical day Keith meets in-

quisitive students like me, resi- dents of the area, students’ parents, members of university staff, local and national TDs, and of course, members of the media. This morn- ing he was interviewed by 96fm and Keith and the rest of the Stu- dents’ Union also meet with UCC’s President, Dr. Michael Murphy, monthly, to ensure that he is kept up to date with student affairs.

So what changes can students

expect from the Students’ Union this year, I asked? One of Keith’s primary concerns in the first term of the college year is organising UCC’s attendance at the nation-

of Management, and Keith claims “students should notice the change of attitude in the Student Centre this year”. Following Fresher’s Week, the Union are beginning to campaign afresh against


stealthily increasing registration fee, and they are partially respon- sible for the 9 million euro devel- opment work in the Mardyke Sports Arena.

The Union will also be focusing

President Keith O’Brien taking time out to pose for a picture.

wide fees protest in Dublin on the 3rd of November. This issue of fees and of saving students’ money is clearly close to Keith’s heart. Closer to home, the Students’ Union are responsible for the changes in the Students’ Centre, having worked to place Student Union representatives on its Board

afresh on student entertainments this year. Keith assures me that the failure of last year’s “Campus Pic- nic” gig will be addressed and the Students’ Union can promise a large-scale event on campus at some point during this academic year. Students can often underesti- mate the Student Union’s workload as so much of what they do is be- hind the scenes, beneath the sur- face of college life. Despite student criticism of the funding allotted to the Students’ Union every year, its members are paid minimum wage for a job that Keith describes as “the most rewarding, demanding and exhausting thing you’ll ever

September 28th 2010

Clark Gable post-It Happened One Night and pre-Gone with the Wind, occupying the same frame as de- cidedly Irish girls, plump faces, thick legs, socks with sandals and rosaries beaded round their necks and wrists. By the twentieth photo I was in love. These are the hazards of operating a photo lab.

When the day is over,

putting the lab to sleep is another routine that is soothing in its same- ness, and despite the customers who are just endlessly difficult (wanting seven hundred photos printed and ready for collection in an hour, tantrums when standard print sizes won’t fit Ikea frames) it remains my favourite part of the job I return to on weekends and holidays, as cluttered as the floor may be.

do.” He also explained that despite his office’s open-door policy, he wishes he had more time to spend on campus talking directly to stu- dents. This year, the Student Union members aim to be more directly involved in student life by making house calls to student accommoda- tion to deal directly with students’ concerns, from broken radiators to grant issues.

But what made Keith want to

apply for the job? He explained that he’d be content if students felt that he had made any difference to their college lives. “If they felt that I did a good job and had made a change in their lives, then I’d be happy. I wouldn’t change my job for the world.” Keith recommends getting involved in the Students’ Union to anyone who cares about student affairs. There are myriad different ways to get involved, from beginning as an academic or entertainment class representative, to getting involved in the Student Union’s charity work. To get in- volved, Keith recommends starting off by sending him an email. “We’re here to serve students.” It’s clear that Keith O’ Brien and the SU team take their responsibilities to the student body very seriously and that they are passionate about what they do for us on a daily basis.

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