Saturday, December 3

Lonely Fire

"To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss." - Khmer Rouge

People at work think I'm crazy. Not the "let's avoid this geezer, he makes strange jokes, giggles at inappropriate times, probably has a head in a jar at home" mad. More the "why does this asshole care?" insane.

It's true. I do care. Heck, I'm a completely different person in the office. I openly admit I'm an ogre. A miserable, grumpy bastard. It's not even like I want to be that way. I actually am quite cheerful and foolishly optimistic on Mondays. After my first coffee of course. Let's not get stupid. I look at my job-list and think "What can we do here?" Every week, I do this even though I am a raging monster, lashing out at all and sundry by Friday. Why?

Because I am passionate about the nuances of my work. The creative, psychological, witty aspects, sure. Most people in advertising are. But also the dull stuff like meeting deadlines, wanting to spend time at work working at ideas. At the craft of writing. And it frustrates me no end when my colleagues spend their days gossiping, browsing bloody FB and just generally wiling the time away time. Wasting it, rather. It's like watching water being poured away into sand.  

Yet I can't blame them. We're a remarkably gloomy species. There are too many things that are structurally fucked up and we, the foot soldiers, bear the brunt of it all. Many an upper management butterfly flaps its wings and the tsunamis appear in our lives. Whether it's ridiculously lazy strategies, self-defeating client servicing or half-baked, peculiar creative stuff, it's pretty rusted across the chain.

Who the hell keeps reiterating that advertising is a wonderful, satisfying and fun industry? If we ever ran into the fuckers who say this, we'd tear them limb from limb. We aren't having fun. We're getting beaten up, slowly and methodically. And, there comes a point in every boxing match when the loser knows it. The moment when he stops competing and starts waiting for the sound of the bell, praying that he can make an exit covered by a smidgeon of self-respect. Most of the people I know have reached this point.

One friend is quitting the planning department because she is tired of fighting her boss. Tired of knowing she is right and that her boss is wrong. That the person who is supposed to inspire her, teach her and help her, is essentially a successful fraud whom no one calls out. That the supposed briefs they send out aren't worth the paper they're printed out on.

There are countless folks in client servicing who are tired of fighting the client. Tired of the mindless, MBA-brandishing brand managers, wet behind the ears but arrogant enough to think they know everything. Who incessantly plague the servicing people with feedback that would make an idiot blush and deadlines which have no meaning.

And the creative teams, most of who wouldn't recognise inspiration if it were blowing them. The less said the better.

I'm telling you - ply the lot of us with enough booze and you'll uncover enough rancour to put us on a saline drip of Valium and Prozac. At the least, most of us would be locked up in a good sized psych ward on a temporary basis.

Amidst all the broken-hearted surviving we do on a daily basis, there's senior management and their machinations. Having seen it at every place I've worked, I was reminded of the Khmer Rouge's chilling words. Make no mistake, I am not disrespecting the victims of the KR. I'm saying the same callous philosophy, watered down, is at work in every office and every agency. Most of us know the feel of it. The only thing we don't do is put it into words. That would make it more real than we could bear.

Song for the moment: Body and Soul - John Coltrane 

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