#104 Time & Time Again

 104 Time & Time Again
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Know anyone who screws up, arrives late, forgets something…time & time again?

AmperArt #104, Time & Time Again, is about those people. The term could just as easily refer to a car that just won’t start first thing in the morning, or a computer program that keeps crashing, but it usually refers to people—& especially negative instances such as always being late, forgetting to stop at the cleaners, or getting the facts wrong. Time & Again could also have been the title, but Time & Time Again just sounds so much more worthy of a good reprimand or pink slip.

See the scenario?

This AmperArt design, #104 Time & Time Again, presents a common scenario, especially in the workplace. Can you figure it out? Well, I know you can because only the brightest people subscribe to AmperArt.com, and that means you. But if you’re in a hurry here’s the answer:

Scenario: In AmperArt #104, Time & Time Again, there is a “team” of ampersands, comprised of 5 members: red, blue, green, yellow, purple. Each row of ampersands represents a group meeting. As you can see, all are present at every meeting except one of the team, Mr. Red. He shows up now & then, missing most meetings time & time again.


That meant I was in trouble. Otherwise I was “Charlie” or more recently “Chaz.” I’m also called “Chuck,” “Char” & “Hey Asshole” but never Charles, unless I’ve been a bad, bad boy. I can still hear Mom reprimanding me: “I’ve told you time & time again!” Was I trying out my new Crayolas on the walls again? Who knows, but the phrase still rings clear in my memory.

The dreaded pink slip

Time & time again an employee is late or does a lousy job, until they are “canned,” “let go,” or “given the pink slip,” all of which mean you’re fired! (No, the pink slip doesn’t mean you’re given the title to a new car for being late.)

"I'm what?!!"The “pink slip” has become a metonym for the termination of employment in general. According to an article in The New York Times, the editors of the Random House Dictionary have dated the term to at least as early as 1910.¹

The phrase most likely originated in vaudeville. When the United Booking Office (established in 1906) would issue a cancellation notice to an act, the notice was on a pink slip (“The Argot of Vaudeville Part I” New York Times, Dec. 16, 1917, p.X7.) Another possible etymology is that many applications (including termination papers) are done in triplicate form, with each copy on a different color of paper, one of which is typically pink.¹

In the UK & Ireland the equivalent of a pink slip is a P45; in Belgium the equivalent is known as a C4.¹

Another theory:

The very earliest example we have is where a pink slip is a note sent to a typographer indicating that he’s made a mistake. If he got enough of them then he would be fired. Yet another intermediate one in 1905 where a pink slip is specifically a rejection letter from a magazine. So a writer would submit a story, & it would get a pink slip back, meaning that the story was rejected. So clearly there is something going on at around this time where pink slip is being used to refer to various kinds of rejection.²

The term is an Americanism. In other countries they have different colors to refer to dismissal from a job. In Germany the expression is to get the blue letter. In the French military, you would be dismissed with a yellow paper, carte jaune. ²

So typographers were given the pink slip? Time & time again I’ve issued the month’s AmperArt just under the wire. Better get this edition out on time before I’m canned.

Please comment here.


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at DesimoneDesign.com, my commercial graphic design website. It’s mostly about design, typography, printing, publishing & marketing, but on occasion I’ll divert to a sideways topic that just can’t escape my ranting & raving.

Production notes for #104 Time & Time Again:
Original size: 20×30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator
Font family: Gill Sans
Ampersand: Gill Sans
Reference text (verbatim & edited):
¹Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_slip_(employment)

²Jesse Sheidlower is an editor-at-large of the Oxford English Dictionary. From https://www.marketplace.org/2009/04/09/world/tracing-origin-pink-slip
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