Note: I originally wrote this in July of 09, but was too lazy to finish it and too chickenshit to publish it. I don’t know why I’m afraid to post my thoughts. I just am.
Berkeley Farms isn’t in Berkeley…it’s in Hayward. This is the biggest takeaway I had from my venture to the often forgetten South Bay that isn’t Scrillacon Valley (I’ll thank E40 for that nickname…brilliant) for a job interview that, per usual, appeared to be legitimate and targeted at exactly what I wanted. I was so overjoyed that they called me back for a second interview that I completely excused their normly inexcusable location in Hayward. This was it, my ticket into the ad/marketing industry. I would pay my dues at this smallish boutique, do the least inspiring work you could think of and rise to the level of Don Draper in no time.
A friend warned me about such an opportunity, as she was sucked into an opportunity of the same rhetoric. She was promised the world, and ended up with cold calling offices, peddling office supplies. “Haha,” I sniggered as she relived one of the worst experiences of her life, “sucks for you,” I continue insensitively. Like many athletes Pacman’s locker room, I immediately thought “the bad things that happen to other’s will NEVER happen to me!” I was special, ordained by this boutique agency, getting in on the ground floor of something Madison Avenue will soon develop a drinking problem over not thinking of first.
I think I was the one who needed a drink after the second interview.
Driving to Hayward the next morning was a sign of things to come. The traffic wasn’t as bad as people told me it would be, but the commute still seemed painful. I feel for people in their cars all day. I bet it’s daily commutes that get people so addicted to talk radio: it gives a human connection to some of the loneliest people in the world. Moving on highway 880 is like any movie where everyone is trying to leave, only for some reason you’re going TOWARD the looming disaster. Just when you think you’ve passed the worst, meaning the ghetto in Oakland, you soon wish you were back near the Coliseum, airport and especially the In n Out burger off Hegenberger. Not only have I passed San Leandro (a town only know to me as the home of Dennis Dixon) but I’m also forced to drive through somewhere called Union City.
The name Union City may evoke some kind of wonderful community where everyone gathers in a park to play frisbee or have a picnic. This couldn’t be a bigger lie of a name…or the biggest lie for a name since Richmond’s motto being “City of Pride and Purpose”. The most interaction between the locals in Union City is the MASSIVE movie theatre I can see from the dreaded 880 South, which easily could seat the entire city of San Francisco. It’s probably what Texas-sized Walmarts look like or those big, evil stores in Wall-e…it’s embarrassing.
Ok, I finally get to Hayward, which isn’t much of a relief. This time, I don’t get lost and easily find my way with plenty of time to spare (rule number one of job interviews: plan to get lost, so get there hella early). I arrive, only to be surprised with how many people made it to the second round. I sign in and the mega-cute secretary tells me to get in line withe everyone else. Line? Really? Is this a ride at Disney Land? Must I be this height to ride Marketing Mountain?
Just when I sit down, the employees role in, awkwardly staring at us with a gaze akin to frat boys sizing up new recruits. None of us were particularly comfortable, considering none of us knew what the job was or who these people were. They were all wearing matching uniforms, which gave me fright because they looked like a pit crew. After our west side story-like confrontation (snapping as we approach each other in the alleyway), we paired off to see marketing in action: or how to want to light yourself and college diploma on fire.
What was promised to me as a jump start to a fantastic career of glitz, CLEOs, One Clubs and other random awards nobody cares about turned out to be akin to pumping gas at a full service gas station (shout out to all the Oregon readers, who experience this luxury on a daily basis).
It turns out it doesn’t matter how good you are at marketing to be good at marketing. The entire concept of talent or creativity is thrown out the window. So much so that when I asked my shadowee if the pay was commission based, he emphatically told me no. The pay was, in fact, based on how well you sold the products. Now, I’m only a college grad with a degree in advertising, but I’m pretty sure that is the definition of a commission-based job!