Thursday, September 9, 2010




1 a : offering or providing help b : functioning in a subsidiary capacity
2 : constituting a reserve : supplementary

The first things that occurs to me upon viewing this word is AUXILIARY inputs, a.k.a.: AUX. An AUXILIARY input in a unit allows one to hook-up a smaller unit to the main unit, and thus channel the smaller through the main. Example: an iPod through a car stereo.

The AUX input is an image I directly relate to my days working for Guitar Center. For nearly four years I stood in a grey-carpeted kiosk, leaning my torso over the rail into the path of those moving toward the exit, ready to grab a guitar or an amp or a keyboard, and, of course, a receipt. One facet of my surprisingly complicated job—technically "inventory control specialist," non-technically "door girl"—was to match serial numbers on gear to serial numbers on receipts. After years of searching for these numbers, I knew exactly where to look. I knew which guitars listed numbers on the back of their heads, on the base of their necks, on a sticker, carved into the wood, buried in the sound hole, hidden below a pick-up. Most amplifiers listed numbers on their backs, amidst an aggregation of ONs, OFFs, INs, OUTs, THRUs, and AUXs. If I had stopped to think about what AUX meant, I'm sure I could have answered it, but for those moments it was only a stopping point for my eyes on the way to a 8-12 digit identification number. Images of serial numbers haunted me for months after I quit this job. I still find myself staring at the serial numbers on automatic hand-dryers in public bathrooms as I hold my wet hands under a stream of lukewarm recycled air.

If one had asked me a decade ago if I would eventually become sensitive to the image of a serial number, I wonder what I would have thought. Life is strange and gloriously unpredictable.

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