Thursday, June 02, 2005

The first day

So I've always kind of assumed that when people wish you luck on the first day of work, that means they're rooting for you to not call your boss by the wrong name, or give away the fact that you don't know how to operate a door. Basic don't-start-off-on-the-wrong-foot stuff. It never occurred to me that "good luck" might also mean "I hope this job doesn't make you hate your life."

I might be going out on a limb here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that mentally chanting "I hate my job I hate my job" to yourself by afternoon on the first day is not a good sign. Nor is the desire to break down in tears. Granted, my emotional stability is somewhat up in the air when I'm short on sleep, but I wouldn't have guessed that a day at the office would be something that would send me off the deep end.

After clearing my head a bit by swimming a mile (thank God for master's swim), it occurred to me that I might have overreacted. So when I arrived at work today (my second day), I was in a fairly good mood (thank God for venti mochas), and things didn't go nearly as badly. I could hardly say that I enjoyed myself, but at least I made it to the end of the day without wanting to cry.

So what on earth could possibly make me so miserable? People seem nice: even the company president is pretty accessible; the commute isn't totally horrible, thanks to my iPod and my capacity to zone out for long periods of time while driving (I mean, it doesn't require more than three or four brain cells to operate a car on a freeway); my food expenses could theoretically be zero during the week, as they have a fully-stocked fridge and cabinet from which anyone can pull their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Here's the problem: I pursued marketing because I enjoy thinking about the challenges of winning sales from consumers. How can you best communicate to them the benefits of your product? Who is "them"? What kinds of messages are meaningful? All of this, of course, makes the assumption that the product you're selling is worthwhile, and that your customers are educated enough to know the difference between that and one that is a waste of money (don't we all wish we were those consumers... I know I still haven't figured out how to do that more than 50% of the time).

But what if you had to sell something that you thought was worthless, via shady or irritating methods that give marketing a bad name? It's like being a lawyer without the compensation. And it's depressing. Not only are you disappointed in yourself for lending any kind of support to such an effort, but you lose faith in the intelligence of people in general, because some of them actually fall for this shit. You feel like you're duping consumers into buying the product. And I never wanted to have that low an opinion of other people: I don't want to be one of those who takes consumers for granted, who thinks less of them because they bought the product I'm hawking. Maybe it's inevitable. Maybe I just hadn't expected disillusionment (does anyone ever?), or didn't think it would be this painful. Maybe I've just been spoiled by jobs that I loved, but I didn't think that was too much to expect.

Goodbye soul.

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