For those not in the know, “PULL!” is what you shout when you’re skeet shooting and you’re ready for the next clay pigeon. I went and did this with my father-in-law one year, and I almost blew his foot off. By accident, of course. And that’s the story of how I learned that I’m not comfortable with guns.
“Pulling” is also what the archive monkeys do when you want material: they take your little form and disappear into the stacks, reemerging with your coveted boxes of yellowed paper. In smaller archives (like the state archive I used to be a monkey for), you can get things pulled as you need them. But at NARA-College Park (and most other large archives, I imagine), there is–of course–a procedure. They only pull at 10am, 11am, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm (plus 3:30 on Wed, Thurs, and Fri). So as a researcher, you have to figure out how to arrange your pull slips so you don’t end up with any dead time–so that while you are going through one pull, the monkeys are in the back getting the next stack of stuff.
This can be highly stressful if you have limited time (like me during this trip). If you miss a pull time, you fall behind, meaning that you might not get through your research, meaning you might have to come back. Which costs money and time, neither of which I have a lot of right now. Okay, okay–graduate students have all the time in the world. But only as much money as our significant others allow us.
In any case, I was having trouble staying up on the pull times yesterday morning, but by mid-day, I was moving along. Of course, I forgot to eat until 3pm, by which time the cafeteria was closed, so I had a disgusting pre-made chicken salad. But more on my culinary experiences in College Park later. Now it’s time to get my pull slips ready.