Friday, April 29, 2005

"Now THAT guy got canned!"

So now that I have an actual small salary to complain about coming my way, I can turn my attention to making the most of my final days in food service. Having decided that giving notice is for pussies, I've begun brainstorming ways to piss off some of my favorite categories of customers:

To the groups of kids that order 8 different kinds of frappucinos so that we have to actually make them all separately:
Tell them we're out, and give them directions to Coffee Bean down the street. (Actually that'll just piss off the people in Coffee Bean, but at least it'll get rid of the kids.)

To the people who ask for a particular piece of cake or something out of the pastry case:
Try it. Announce loudly that it's kind of stale.

To the people who pay for a small cup of coffee with a fifty:
Start counting out change from smallest to largest, using lots of painstaking mental arithmetic. "Let's see, that's... thirty-three ones, plus three fives is... 37, 42, 47... wait, um, like... ok, 48. Let's see, I think I'm out of quarters, but I should have enough nickels and dimes... would you like a bag for all this?"
(Bonus: remarkably efficient way to piss off large numbers of people behind them in line, too)

To the people on their cell phones:
Zone out until they're waving their arms to get attention. Say wasn't sure they were talking to me.

To the people who ask for a cup of ice water:
Hand them mine. Tell them it tastes funny.

To the asshole who thought I was gypping him on his coffee purchase:
Fill the cup all the way up to the top. Don't snap the lid on. Be all "I told you so" when he finds out the burned way why we don't do that.

To the low talkers:
Yell. Someone has to lead by example.

To the parents who subject us to their indecisive children:
Constantly question the child on whether or not they're sure they want a piece of cake. Once a definitive choice has been made, tell their parent about its nutritional content.

To the grown adults who can't make up their minds either:
Ignore them entirely and start taking orders from the people behind them in line. Try to insert a lot of playful banter so can look irritated when the person skipped interrupts to try to get served. (Hmm, may also work for cell phone talkers...)

To the grown adults who only have their minds made up until right after they've paid for their order (what did you think that process meant?!) and then decide they're not in a latte mood and would rather go for a frappucino:
One word: firebomb.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Update

I realize I've been pretty quiet of late: a friend I'd met in Hong Kong was staying with me a few days and we kept ourselves pretty busy getting out and seeing the sights. I love having guests, it gives you permission to do all your favorite things in a city. In my case, that meant going to In N Out, CPK and BJ's, going out on the Sunset Strip (that was my first time, too), generally just going out a lot in general. She left this morning for San Francisco, and life seems really dull right about now (also the local Fox affiliate fucked up and The O.C. wasn't on and there's no point in even having Thursdays if The O.C. isn't on).

But while she was here, I had another interview--I was finally able to get in touch with the woman from the direct marketing and set up an interview for Monday afternoon after work. And as I was driving out there, I got a call from a recruiter asking for a phone interview on Friday. This was a company to which I'd sent my resume several weeks ago, and had kind of given up because I hadn't heard anything. I think my new motto is going to be "try not to look surprised," because that's become a rather consistent problem these days.

I'm looking forward to the phone interview tomorrow, because it would probably involve a job in Chicago, but I'm not ridiculously psyched about it. Because...

...I got a job.

I found out on Tuesday night that I'd been sent an offer letter by the direct marketing agency. The job is entry-level--account coordinator--paying a reasonable salary plus full benefits. I start June 1st.

Initially I hadn't been all that excited about a job there, but the more I think about it the more perfect I think this is for me. It's a direct marketing agency, so I'll learn how the business works. I'll be entry-level, but that's appropriate given my lack of experience: I have a lot to learn when it comes to project management and client interfacing, and this will let me get in slowly. It's a smaller company, which means I'll have more opportunities for filling different roles with respect to project execution. If the salary isn't exactly as high as I'd like, it's higher than it would be at an ad agency, and it'll go up pretty fast. One of my interviewers said that I could expect to be promoted after 6 months (I'll be I can do it in 4) to assistant account executive, and then full ae a year after that, and salary goes up every time. And at the end of the day, if I don't like it, employment is at will and I can leave to go somewhere else.

What this means for life as I know it: now that I'll be earning an actual salary, I have a fair amount of debt to start paying off. Credit cards from my trip, school loans, all that fun stuff. Shit. Guess I'll be living at home for awhile yet. It also means that, since I think I'll be in CA for awhile, I need to go get my stuff in Chicago and bring it back. And that means: road trip! Am still in the process of planning it, but since this'll be the last time I travel for awhile, I think I'm going to take the scenic route and make a few stops along the way. Very excited about that.

Also, I think it's about time I replaced that picture of my 16 year-old self on my driver's license...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The search continues

Truth be told, I'm pretty happy at Starbucks. No, I'm not planning on staying there forever, but my job search efforts have been, admittedly, somewhat half-assed. I do it when it's convenient, or when something falls into my lap, and somehow these methods appear to have a much higher return on investment. This perception does make sense, when I think about it: you're more likely to get a response when you submit your resume through personal contacts than otherwise, and since that way also happens to be easiest (a bit of conversation and emailing your resume, no cover letter required... I can do that), that's what I do more than anything else. I also get job listings sent to me everyday by my undergraduate institution (Annenberg has a kickass career services department), and every so often something on there sparks my interest and I apply for it as well. And I tend to apply for these jobs and then forget about them, so I'm really surprised when I get a call for an interview, the way I did today. It feels like a gift, like it just came out of nowhere.

Today's call was from a direct marketing agency. The position is that of a coordinator, which is entry level, but I would be working in direct marketing. This is very exciting to me, as I haven't had too many responses from resumes sent in for such jobs (save American Express, another heartbreaker). Also it's on the agency side as opposed to the client side, which is very attractive to me. The only downside is the place is located in the Valley. The fact that I don't really know where their city is is not a good sign; I looked it up and it's at the west end of the Valley. Using the oh-so-scientific method of fixing my fingers on the map and then moving them over to compare, I determined that it's slightly closer to my house than Pasadena, where I'm used to commuting. Downside: have to pass by the 405. Yech. Also, no pretty view of downtown and the ocean over Eagle Rock from the 134. I can't think of a nicer stretch of freeway in the LA area (and we've got quite a bit).

Anyway, when I returned the call the woman who called me had already left, so I'll try again tomorrow. I got a couple of other leads today, too: the girl I know at Campbell-Ewald said one of my interviewers had recommended that I meet with the top guy there when he gets back; he's been travelling for work for the last 2 weeks. Also another local ad agency is looking for an account executive, which I heard about through a friend of a friend and she said I could use her name, which was very nice of her. So I'm drafting that cover letter now.

In marketing we talked about being reactive and proactive: in the former position, your company simply reacts to current trends, trying to get the edge on the competition and take advantage of what's going on sooner than they do. In the latter, your company shapes the trends, and is thus the first mover with product introductions and all the benefits that entails. There are lots of examples to demonstrate this: one everyone can relate to is Apple's successful introduction of the iPod, which had a major impact not only on electronics and the computer industry, but on the music business as well. And now Apple is enjoying all the benefits of that: a ridiculous market share, successful introduction of spinoff products (the Mini, the Shuffle), increased sales of other products (Macs, software, etc.), and of course, the spectacular profits being generated by iTunes. I get a newsletter on product placement marketing every week that always includes the top downloaded song on iTunes: it's that popular that it's become a source of benchmark measurement. I've gotten carried away here because I love talking about this stuff, but my point is, Apple is in the proactive company. Everyone else is now reacting to the changes they caused: Dell was next to come out with a high-capacity mp3 player (that I saw), HP, Creative Labs, Sony all jumped on board, and they're all collaborating with different sources to get their own music download services up and running. And now Napster's back with a new business model that entails "renting" music, and I'm really curious to see how that goes. I myself am too invested in my iPod to change now, and I know I'm not the only one.

The downside of being one of those proactive companies is that you assume a great deal of risk when introducing new products like that. There are lots of things that can go wrong, and suddenly your R&D, marketing, and production investments are worthless. Another much-talked about Apple example is the Newton. It never made it past that 1% of the population that buys every new gadget that comes out.

I'm getting way off-track here. My point about the proactive vs. reactive companies is that, these days, I feel like the reactor. And that's ok, that's what's easy, I'm not in any particular hurry. That's one nice thing about being young: I don't have to hurry, I already did plenty of that. (Omigod I turn 23 on Sunday though, that's gonna be weird.) My job search is going on almost in spite of myself, because it has to. And that's where the analogy ends, thankfully: I could be missing out on fantastic life-changing opportunities because I'm not being more proactive about my job search, but as long as I find a job, it's going to be life-changing no matter what. I've been excited about everything I've gotten the chance to interview for, and don't see how that's going to change.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Scientific jargon

I knew a girl once who complained about the lack of sensitivity to cleanliness that prior roommates had had, except when they were under the influence. Then, they would come back to the apartment and clean it from top to bottom, and it was the days after such behavior that kept her sane. I can identify with the surge of productivity that comes from overimbibing: here it is. I had wanted to link to the text that follows awhile ago, because my education in data analysis has made me appreciate it that much more, but was unable to find it online. I found a copy that I'd printed out way back when (yes, I am that big a dork) and finally got around to transcribing it this evening. After minoring in psych, I think it's really funny, and think that at least one other person who reads this might find it somewhat amusing as well.

So here goes, properly credited and all:


Scientific Jargon
Dyrk Schingman
OSU

After several years of studying and hard work, I have finally learned scientific jargon. The following list of phrases and their definitions will help you to understand that mysterious language of science and medicine.

“It has long been known…”
I didn’t look up the original reference

“A definite trend is evident”
These data are practically meaningless

“While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to the questions…”
An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published

“Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study.”
The other results didn’t make any sense

“Typical results are shown…”
This is the prettiest graph

“These results will be in a subsequent report.”
I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded

“The most reliable results were obtained by Jones…”
He was my graduate student; his grade depended on this

“In my experience…”
Once

“In case after case…”
Twice

“In a series of cases…”
Thrice

“It is believed that…”
I think

“It is generally believed that…”
A couple of other guys think so too

“Correct within an order of magnitude…”
Wrong

“According to statistical analysis…”
Rumor has it

“A statistically oriented projection of the significance of these findings…”
A wild guess

“A careful analysis of obtainable data…”
Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer

“It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomena occurs…”
I don’t understand it

“After additional study by my colleagues…”
They don’t understand it either

“Thanks are due to Joe Blotz for assistance with the experiment and to Andrea Schaeffer for valuable discussions.”
Mr. Blotz did the work and Ms. Schaeffer explained to me what it meant

“A highly significant area for exploratory study”
A totally useless topic selected by my committee

“It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field.”
I quit

Coping strategies

So, I was a just a little depressed about what seems a more and more miserable failure of an interview everytime I relive it. I wanted to go watch TV, eat a lot of chocolate, and verbally abuse anything and everything that caught my attention. However, I determined that that probably wasn't the most constructive solution, and opted to go swimming instead to get my mind off the interview. (For the record, I recently recommenced my participation in Swim Masters in an effort to, like, exercise and stuff.)

And it worked. When I first got in the pool, my mind was on how friggin' cold it was. Then it was on the hot male lifeguard I was sharing my lane with who looked a lot like Ben from Felicity. And finally it was on the calves and hamstring that were this close to seizing up and the all-but-dislocated right shoulder that resulted from swimming 2850 yards (over a mile and a half) on the exercise day known as "Fast Friday." (Ha! Those crazy swim coaches with their crazy alliteration.)

And now, clearly, some time in the hot tub is necessary to try and relieve my muscles. If I happen to be accompanied by a bottle of chardonnay, so be it.

The post-mortem

Ok, I've found another job that I want so badly I can taste it. We're talking dream job, here. Things that I've been interested in for years. The position I interviewed for today was that of an analyst at Siegel & Gale. I would would work in research, project management, contribute to brand strategic planning and ultimately help put together the client presentation. Basically, what I did in grad school a bunch of times.

And I so did not get it.

I interviewed with two senior level people in the brand strategy department, and was scheduled for an hour with each. I talked with the first person for about 45 minutes and thought it went really well. I was able to describe relevant experiences, give satisfactory answers to questions, and felt we just generally hit it off. At the end, I felt like I'd earned her stamp of approval.

Not so with my second interviewer. I thought it started off ok... he had done work with the market research firm where I used to intern, and I was able to speak well about some of my grad school and work experiences. But then I felt like it started to go downhill. I couldn't articulate my answers very well, and some answers that I'd just made up weren't very well-supported (it turns out that thinking on my feet is something that I cannot do. Talk, yes... reason, no.) I couldn't even define the essence of the Starbucks brand. I work there. It's probably in our training manual. List attributes, yes, but articulate that distinctive and unique thing that only Starbucks has, no. You know those computer tests where you get different questions based on whether you answer one right or wrong? It was like I was answering all the questions wrong, so he kept making them easier and eventually gave up altogether. My first interviewer had warned me that he would ask me a couple of case questions. Those never came. In fact, I was only there for about 20 of the 60 minutes that had been scheduled, and at the end he they were interviewing lots of people for these positions and were hiring all the time and said that if a position came open that they thought was a good fit for me, I'd get a call. Implying about as overtly as possible that neither of the two positions that are currently open will be filled by me. Nice to meet you. Have a nice life.

Deep breath. Be philosophical about this. If they don't like you, or don't think that your skills are a match with the job (which, after all, they know better than you do), or even think that you lack skills entirely, then chances are the job is not for you. However powerful your conviction is, however many times you make that wish over and over at 11:11, or however much that you complain to your parents that you were robbed, you're wrong. Y'know, the mature man's sour grapes.

But that doesn't mean you can't be pissed off about it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Yay!

I know I said I was done with the exclamations, but I totally lied: I got another interview! It's with a company called Siegel & Gale, whose primary work is in branding: brand identity, alignment, research, communications. The kind of business you'd expect someone with a degree in integrated marketing communications to go into (because where else do you get to use all your knowledge but in branding?). I still don't know what kind of job I'm interviewing for, but I'll find out, and that right soon: the interview is at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

And how did this interview come about? Has sending out all those resumes, complete with matching cover letter, borne any fruit? No. And I'm beginning to think it never will, either. My experiences with obtaining internships while in college were apparently anomalies... all four and a half of them. (I can explain.) I suppose it was just a completely different pool of candidates. But it completely ruined me for the prolonged job search I'm undertaking now. Because all three of the interviews I've had were a result of knowing someone who either let me know about a job opportunity or saw to it that I was considered for one.

The person responsible for this most recent interview was not someone I happened to meet in a bar. Well, not quite. I met her over margaritas at El Cholo. Despite that, it was a very respectable situation. My mom signed our family up to attend a performance of "Anything Goes" at USC and go out to dinner at El Cholo afterwards as part of an event being hosted by one of the many organizations in which my mother is involved. I was the youngest person there, not surprisingly, but there was one other girl close to my age who attended with an older woman who used to be her house mom (she was in Alpha Chi Omega, and is somehow cool despite that). So adults do what they always do and get us young 'uns together, so I sat across the table from her and chatted during all of dinner and dessert. And we kind of hit it off. It turns out she works down the street from me in Beverly Hills, so she stopped in the other day and said a friend of hers from A Chi O worked at Siegel & Gale (which building I've passed by thousands of times, actually: as soon as she said the name I could see the logo printed on the side of the building) and they were hiring. She gave me her info, I had a look at their website and then sent her my resume to forward to her friend.

And today I got a call.

Scary how fast these things can work, isn't it? The interview's after work tomorrow. I hope my permanent coffee smell isn't too much of a distraction.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Beverly Hills

I just learned that Weezer's "Beverly Hills" is the #2 downloaded song on iTunes right now. I heard it for the first time on Sunday as I was in my car driving past the Beverly Hills Hotel and up Benedict Canyon, which is lined with palm trees. It was sunny. I was surrounded by mansions. My knee-jerk reaction when I heard the song was to think "Yeah whatever, this place isn't that great."

And then I thought about it.

Those 30 seconds were pretty fuckin' great.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Highlights

Work today was mostly same-old, same-old: work the register, get coffee and pastries, listen to my manager's rendition of that song that starts off "on top of spagheeeeetti..." The usual. (Well, last week's music selection was Gloria Estefan. She really knows how to mix things up.) With a few minor changes:


1. Ran into another middle school alumna as I arrived at work. On a Sunday morning! What the hell is wrong with these people, can't they just stay out of my way until the reunion? Huh?! Or at least stop frequenting my place of business and start accosting me in the mall or something? Sheesh.

2. Someone I currently associate with stopped by for the first time. I rewarded him with a free cup of tea. I totally owe him anyway after all the free beer I drank at his house on Friday.

3. I got my first paycheck. That was depressing. Two weeks of work = $268. Can kind of identify with how Becky feels, though I think I like my job a bit more. Most of the time, anyway:

4. A customer actually earned my hatred. Hatred. Irritation I know well, and can forgive it pretty easily because I'm as often the source of it as not. But I would never consider actually spitting in someone's coffee. Until today. I would make an exception for this guy.

I've been assured by a coworker that I'm overreacting, and he's probably right, but I still hate this guy. Let's set the stage: it's a sunny Sunday morning in Beverly Hills, there are a few people in the store but no line. I smile and ask him what he'd like to order, he says a grande coffee in a venti cup. It's a pretty common order for people who like a lot of cream and don't want to pay for coffee they're just going to pour out anyway. I always overfill them, though, because I forget that it's supposed to be a smaller size, and better to pour out extra coffee in the sink than in the trash can. It happened this time, too, so I pour out a little bit, put the lid on and hand the coffee to the guy. He immediately takes the lid off and pours the coffee into a grande cup he's just pulled from one of the stacks next to the register. There's maybe 3/4 of an inch between the coffee and the rim of the cup, which is about how I'd fill a grande cup (more than that and you're just asking to get a burn from spillover). He looks at me accusingly and asks me to fill the cup up to the top. While I'm doing this, he says, "I find it amazing that you would pour the coffee out rather than give it to me."

Asshole! As if I'm the coffee nazi, jealously guarding my stash and stingily measuring out the exact amount to those people I deign to do business with. The smile I used when I greeted him was part of my scheme to dupe him. I stammered out something about trying to give people the amount they ask for, and he just glares at me as if I represent all that's evil in this world and walks over to the bar where we have all the milk and sugar. I wanted to trip him.

He supplanted the guy that I previously had at the top of my pyramid of dislike (yes, there's a pyramid of dislike, and I have one), who also got there for accusing me of trying to gyp him. (And for asking for a specific piece of banana loaf and actually returning the first piece I gave him because I hadn't selected the right one. I mean, he didn't just correct me when I picked up a piece with the tongs: he actually walked away to his table, had a look, and then came back to ask for a different one. The one he'd been given apparently didn't have the requisite number of walnuts or something. wtf?) It was my first week and he ordered a venti tea, so I rang up a venti tea. But apparently if someone only has one teabag then we only charge them for a tall, a fact about which I was speedily educated when he started to complain that I was overcharging him without telling me why he thought so and another person I work with had to step in and fix everything. (This was over a difference of thirty cents, by the way.) The guy glared at me and walked off in a huff. Asshole.


Ok, that was really just an excuse to vent about customers that suck. Most of them don't, but there are those special few who make you wish for a rewrite of the Divine Comedy so you know there's a circle of Hell just for them. (Sidenote: I would think that a poet, of all people, would be sensitive to the impact of the words they choose, but I don't think 'comedy' means what Dante seems to think it means.)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Blast from the past

I know I've said a lot about what it's like to be back in LA, both good and bad, but I've failed to mention the part of life that's just plain weird. For example, after five years of schooling and all the other life changes that go along with that, I'm living in my old room in my parents house, getting nagged about cleaning my room, and working part-time in the food industry. It's like the last five years just didn't happen and I'm still in high school (without that pesky requirement to go to class, which I appreciate). At least now I'm old enough to drink, though, thank God.

But as hard as it is to digest those facts of life, even weirder are the actual blasts from the past when I run into people I haven't seen since middle school. It started at Starbucks, where I ran into Daniel, a guy I'd known since first grade who is now a manager there (and part of why I decided to apply for a job there: I was afraid that, with my Master's, even Starbucks wouldn't take me, and it was nice to know someone with credibility would recommend me. Plus he turned out to be a really cool guy.) Not too long after that, I got an email from Gloria, who I'd been good friends with through elementary and middle school (and who, incidentally, Daniel used to have a crush on). She saw my profile on Friendster, which includes a picture of me with a six-foot kiwi statue, and thus learned that I'd been in New Zealand recently. Which is where she's now studying abroad for a year. We were in Christchurch at the same time and didn't know it. At then at work at Starbucks one morning, I ran into another girl from way back when, Jenny, who now works at a casting agency down the street.

That was handle-able. At work, I'd talk to Daniel a bit about other people we knew from then and what had happened to them, if we knew. I mentioned what I knew of other people I have as friends on Friendster. Hearing the names is the strangest part, because you haven't thought about them in years, and remembering them recalls your life from back then and it's the change, I think, that stops you in your tracks. It's hard to believe your life was ever different from how it is at the moment, and yet you're being presented with incontrovertible proof that it was. But names are different from flesh and blood. They're there, you've both changed, and you're trying to see both the past and the present simultaneously. Like I said, it's weird. Most people are allowed to prepare for stuff like this starting when they get an invitation to their school reunion. It's not fair to just spring that on someone.

And last night, it happened again. Friends from high school that I've kept in touch with had a party at their house. There was beer and a hot tub, and I was SO there. I went knowing I might run into a couple of their other friends from high school who I'd also known back then--it had happened at a dinner in December, too, and it stops short of weird because they were people I'd kind of known in high school, but they were a year ahead of me and were friends of friends. And I did run into a few of them, plus some other people I hadn't met before, and it was nice chatting with everyone.

And then some new people show up, and we start in with the small talk, and one is a guy who says he went to our high school, and for some reason I asked which elementary school he went to, which I wouldn't have done if I'd been thinking (chances were 99% he'd name one of the many I hadn't gone to and the line of questioning would end with an oh-so-intelligent "Oh." and then there'd be an awkward pause while we tried to think of another question). And he named mine. At which point I had to ask his name again (Matt), and almost fell over with the shock of running into someone else I hadn't seen or thought of since middle school, at a place I hadn't expected to do so. Like so many, he now works at an agency, but started in high school, skipped college, and has thus ascended to being an actual agent, as opposed to most others who are still assistants or coordinators at our age. (And for those fans of Family Guy out there, he's worked with Seth MacFarlane a bit and informed me that he's come up with another show--not American Dad--that's so wrong it'll never air, and it's called Peaches, and I'm assured that it's to be found on the internet.) So we went the round of updating each other on other people from back then, which took awhile because between the two of us, it's now a fair number of people.

Then more people came who I hadn't seen in ages, and I got to see what my reaction had looked like: another girl, Leslie (also now working at a talent agency) showed up and hung out for a bit, and while we were making introductions, I saw recognition dawn as she talked to Matt, marked by a widening of the eyes, shortly followed by her mouth dropping open, and then suddenly pointing her finger at him and saying "YOU used to work in tech!" (Both had been involved in putting on a number of musicals at the high school, she as a performer, he as a stagehand.) And while I said it wasn't that weird to run into people just from high school, I was wrong: when there are lots of them, it's weird. A blast from the past sensory overload.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Surprise!

Ok, I think I've met my quota for headlines with exclamation points. Like forever. (With the possible exception of life-changing announcements, etc.) But it was brought to my attention by a certain Mac-owning friend of mine that my blog wasn't all that cooperative with Safari. I'm nothing if not accommodating, at least when the perfect excuse to do something I'd been thinking about doing anyway comes along, and so I thought an update to the look and feel was in order. (I think that *ahem* some others would be well-served to follow my lead...)

I would also like to announce that blog-dom has claimed another victim: another exceedingly pensive acquaintance of mine, a friend from high school, finally caved and started his own blog here.

Wahoo!

Everyone, I would like to announce that... (drum roll please)... I have another interview! For those who were counting, like me, this will bring the total number up to 2. But that's depressing, I don't want to think about that. What I do want to think about is how much meeting random people in bars rocks... um, that sounds wrong... but whatever, that's what happened. I was hanging out at a sports bar in Westwood, sitting at the bar and watching the Dodger game (and the super hot bartender who had inspired me to stay and sit there in the first place, despite the fact that the person I'd hung out with earlier had gone home). And I made the discovery that, if you're just hanging out and drinking your beer, you start talking to the people next to you, who are doing about the same thing. I ended up chatting with the girl sitting to my left who'd come there with her boyfriend to watch the Michigan State game (and who looked a lot like Catherine Keener in Being John Malkovich, now that I think about it), and we did the small talk thing, which always includes occupation. I told her I was looking for a job in marketing, blah blah blah: it's actually a subject I've come to dislike intensely, but you've gotta have some answer when people ask what you do and I haven't gotten to the point yet where I'll just start making shit up. And as much as I hate the topic, I recognize the advantages of telling as many people as possible that you're looking for a job, because you never know who might be able to help you.

And then she pulled out her business card. She works at the Los Angeles division of Campbell-Ewald, which is primarily concerned with the production of Chevrolet retail advertising (retail advertising refers to the cheesy car commercials that talk about no money down, etc. to bring in buyers to meet that month's quota, as opposed to more brand-focused advertising, which has a lot more imagery and much less information, usually just the MSRP). She said that they really need assistants to help everyone because there's so much work that needs doing. It'd be entry-level work, but it'd be a way to get agency experience. I told her that sounded good to me; I was currently working at Starbucks. I sent her my resume the following morning, she responded right away and said she'd forward it to her supervisor, and then I got a call from his assistant this afternoon scheduling me for an interview on Friday morning.

An interview! With Campbell-Ewald! I'm interested in agency work and am excited to have an interview at a place I've actually heard of. The funniest part is how I heard of them to begin with: not because of their relationship with GM or Chevrolet (for whom they did a great commercial for the Super Bowl last year, for the SSR), but because of their relationship with the U.S. Navy, an organization to which I devoted most of my winter quarter last year in an effort to devise a recruiting strategy for their medical forces. One of their account executives at Campbell-Ewald is an IMC alumnus and he brought the project to us last spring.

And regardless of the job possibility, the girl I met seems pretty cool, and plays golf at about the same level I do. So now I've got a golfing buddy to go to the driving range with. Those lessons are already paying off.

Damn, I can hear the I told you so's from a mile away...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Of princes and paupers

Despite my constant complaints about being broke (which certainly feel true, for the record), I am not what one could call, by any stretch of the definition, poor. Maybe I could squeak by with middle class, but my judges would (and have) amend that with an 'upper'. And yet growing up in Los Angeles, going to school in Beverly Hills, I came to the conclusion that our family wasn't too well off. In my defense, I was probably 11 or 12 when that happened and I never really reexamined it until I hit college, and was made to see that 11 or 12 year-olds are idiots, along with people of just about every other age with the exception of 17 through 22 year-olds, and we laid plenty of traps for them too. Morons.

Anyway, I met someone yesterday who made me think that my 11 or 12 year-old self wasn't just making the s-word up. I was at my parents' country club (and for the record, we didn't become members of that until a few years ago) for my second golf lesson--and a smashing success it was! I learned how to hit balls and was hitting them over 120 yards and it was awesome! I'm sure it was God's April Fool's joke on me--and afterwards went up to meet my mom, who was still there after a tournament against women from another country club. (She'd shot an 86, her best score ever, particularly considering she hadn't broken 100 within the past six months--God's April Fool's joke on her.) Country clubs in general are quite nice, but even there you have tiers, and the club she'd played against was posh. In fact, you can almost tell how nice a club is based on how short the end of the stick is that women there get. At some places women are only allowed to even be on the premises a few days per week. They're required to wear skirts when they play. They have trouble scheduling tournaments there against women from other country clubs. Basically, the nicer the club, the further back in time you go.

There were still a couple of members from the other country club there with them, and I began talking to one of them. First, picture me, wearing the clothes I'd worn since 6:30 that morning when I'd gone to work at Starbucks. The khakis cost $20 at Target (and even then I think they were a rip; they fit poorly, and they're already falling apart) and my collared shirt cost less; not that cost really mattered, in this case, as it still had a few whipped cream stains on the left shoulder, which add their own kind of style. I'd exchanged my Starbucks hat for a USC hat to hide my gross hair, which stuck out on either side in pigtails. My makeup had resigned long ago. And I became more and more conscious of all this while I sat talking to this woman about her new orange Porsche 911 Turbo, their house in Bel Air, their office on Rodeo Drive, the 7-carat diamond on her finger, what a crime it was that UCLA's golf team wouldn't let her son practice with them because he had two country club memberships, how Chris O'Donnell's older brother is soooo cute (he won the championship last year at Bel Air Country Club, at which they have one of their memberships), and finally on to how I should meet her kids, especially her son, who's also a Taurus.

In all, she seemed like a very nice, well-meaning woman, though my end of the conversation consisted mostly of nodding and smiling. What I really wanted to do was lean over, narrow my eyes, and ask, "Are you for real?" Maybe accompany that with a poke or two. I did not tell her that I used to work just down the street from their office, at Jamba Juice, and that, 2 degrees later, I've been promoted to working in a Starbucks not far from there. I got the feeling she might wrinkle her brow (or at least momentarily try to fight off her investments in plastic surgery and botox with an attempt to do so) and look at me and say, "Work?"

Whole27: Recap

So we didn't quite make it 30 days. On Thursday, we looked at the prospect of a dry Memorial Day weekend (and the Friday leading up to i...