Monday, December 27, 2010

Take Your Pants Off / And Make it Happen

The prompt for Reverb10 was: "what is the wisest thing you did this year?"

Considering this resulted from my own foolish decision to take the fucking job in the first place, I'm really not sure this can qualify, but the wisest thing I did all year was to quit my job. I had been out of work for almost a year - on a kind of sabbatical, sort of, if losing it and going on indefinite leave counts as a sabbatical - and had decided to take another PR agency job to pay the bills while I figured out a real plan for what was next. I knew from the get go that it wasn't an ideal job. It was a rung or so below the last agency job I'd held, and at a smaller, less prestigious agency, and I was making considerably less money. But I was worried I wasn't going to employable anymore if I didn't get back to work, and I knew it was a job I could do, so I took it with the full intention of phoning it in. 

It was fine at first - we had clients, and they were sort of low maintenance and dumb enough to not require any real effort. We had a couple of actually interesting clients in the pipeline. But my boss, whoa-hoh, my boss. I knew going in that he was a Manhattan Beach frat boy/permanent child type who was a douche and sort of a joke, but his stated goal was sales, and the deal we struck was that I would lead all the account work, and he'd stick to administrative functions and new business development. This was fine with me because I don't particularly like sales, and anyway, I knew he'd be easy to manipulate.

What I didn't know was what an epic clown this guy turned out to be. First of all, I discovered he had a ridiculous nickname that I can't put in here, but that was along the lines of something like "Skip" or "Styles" - pure California cheese. And then there was his irritating habit of listening to bad 80s music on Pandora. All day, every day, if we let him get away with it. It was a small office, maybe 15' x 8', and if we didn't have music playing it was too weirdly quiet to work comfortably, so every day was a race to get good music on first before he could come soil us with Mister Mister and the like. Which he hated, but, to his credit, tolerated, because he was a good enough guy that he genuinely wanted to be a good boss and let the underlings have it their way. One time I had on Radiohead and he exploded with frenzied laughter that suggested he'd been biting his tongue all morning and said, "Jesus, do you just want to kill yourself, or what?" The answer to that question was debatable, given that remark, but my co-worker and I laughed it off. 

Anyway, that kind of idiocy was readily apparent in his work style too. He was embarrassing to me in his transparency - not knowing what he was doing, he pretty much never had any actual good advice for clients - and mostly he wanted to talk about partying and getting drunk. (He is 39.) One day I was at a client lunch and all he could talk about was how awesome his old client's party at E3, a videogame tradeshow, was, and how they spent a million dollars on an event that contained strippers dancing around a pole. He also once told a female colleague to never use the word "swallow" in an email, because no man would ever be able to take it seriously. (!)

But I think the true breaking point for me was when we were working one morning and the song "What a Feeling" by Irene Cara came on the radio. It was 8:30 am on a Tuesday, and none of us were in a good mood. He started singing, and then stopped to tell us about a lyric he'd misinterpreted. "Guys," he said, addressing me and my 28 year old female colleague and our very naive 19 year old female intern, "when I was little, I used to think the part where she says 'take your passion/and make it happen' was 'take your pants off/and make it happen!! Isn't that hilarious?!!"

That was pretty much when I knew I would no longer be able to work for that agency. I quit within a couple of weeks, and since have landed a couple of freelance gigs that pay OK and are keeping me going for now. Next month, who knows, but I'm still getting by. 

Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanx I've always wondered about that line -- the song was in Flashdance.