I once had a real job. Actually, I once had two real
jobs. My first real job went something like this:
7:30am. Arrive at office. Drink coffee. Add non-dairy
creamer. Turn on phones. Listen to voice mail messages
from temps calling out sick from the only job they
will ever get from me. Listen to voice mail messages
from people who are newly temps and want that one job
they will invariably fuck up beyond comprehension,
causing them to forever wander the earth unemployed
and embittered ˆ first at themselves, later at me,
later still at the whole damn patriarchal society. Add
sugar. Contemplate Krispy Kreme.
7pm. Leave office. Loosen tie. Bang head against
steering wheel. Sit in traffic. Contemplate ritual
suicide. Contemplate going back to school and making
something of myself. Contemplate what, exactly, that
degree in English has gotten me besides a crappy job
getting people temp jobs. Go home. Eat Rice-A-Roni.
Beg girlfriend to kill me.
Total time at job: Two years.
My second real job was a little better. It went like
9:00am or 9:30am or 10am (depending on whether or not
I thought we’d be filing Chapter 11 that specific day
or if my boss was going to be hung-over or if my main
client was likely to call me). Arrive at office of
a "direct response advertising agency ˆ which is code for
Joint Where Infomercials Are Made, which is code for
Company That Subsequently Was Discovered To Be In
Cahoots With Its Main Client Over Some Exercise
Machines That Didn’t Work and Possibly Could Kill
Small Children, Pets, and Haitian Immigrants and,
Additionally, Was Funneling Money To Some Cult In
Texas. Listen to voice mail messages from my main client. I’m now an
Account Executive with a very fine cubicle and at least one client who
is quite angry that his infomercial "The Magic Scrub That Will Make
Your Face Break Out in Welts The Size of Cocker Spaniels Whilst Making
You Look Twenty Years Younger" is not performing as well as he’d like
in a few specific markets. Specifically,
he says, "Spo-KANE is ‘sucking ass’" and "who the fuck
wanted it in Spo-KANE in the first fucking place?" Go
to men’s room with LA Times sports section in tow.
Wait until my cubicle partner Dan finishes his twenty
five minute bowel exercise before I can check the
scores. Eat a bagel. Yell at some underling because an
infomercial I hate and am somewhat responsible for is
performing poorly in Spokane. I pronounce Spokane that
way it’s actually pronounced, unlike my client,
because I’m detail oriented, think outside the box,
and am ready to throw myself on the mercy of the cult
in Texas. Do some office-y stuff, like prepare for
Secret Santa week, think about how to tell my boss
that when he says "perfect-o" I want to reach my hand
down his throat until I can feel his spleen. Make some
calls to Ronco. Ask about getting one of those
rotisserie cookers for my mother-in-law. Eat a bagel
(they’re free and provided by the company that is
about to be shuttered).
6:00pm. Leave office. Loosen my baseball hat (casual
office – you know how ad agencies are). Bang head
against steering wheel. Sit in traffic. Contemplate
ritual suicide. Contemplate going back to school and
making something of myself. Contemplate what, exactly,
that degree in English has gotten me besides a crappy
job working for an advertising agency that peddles
Infomercials. Go home. Eat Rice-A-Roni. Beg wife to
Total time at job: one year.
That why I write. That’s why I’m a writer.
Tod Goldberg is the author
of two novels, Fake Liar Cheat (Pocket Books), which sold to Hollywood for big bucks, and Living Dead Girl
(Soho Press), which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. His book of collected of short stories will be out in Fall 2005.