- Time to wake up. I've got a big job today. Corporate ad agency in the city. Three hours of rush hour traffic to face first. Gotta get going, grab something to eat and hit the road. Don't want to be late on my first day.
- I arrive in the city with thirty minutes to spare but it takes me almost an hour to find parking. I call the office to tell them I'm running late but the secretary puts me on hold for fifteen minutes. I hang up and just concentrate on getting there.
- I finally arrive at the offices of Yung & Rubicam. It's a massive skyscraper in the heart of downtown San Francisco. I apologize for being late but luckily it seems like no big deal. That kind of thing happens all the time here in the city. "Maybe next time just leave a little bit earlier," the secretary offers. The drive normally takes 45 minutes without traffic. Oh sure, tomorrow I'll wake up at 3:00 a.m. Good thing I'm prepared. I've got some sweet mock-ups to show the VP of Advertising, Carson. If we aren't on a first name basis yet, we will be after he sees these ads I made last night.
- I'm given a brief tour and shown the cubicle area where I'm supposed to fill out some preliminary paperwork. It's the standard fare; emergency contacts, W-4, non-disclosure agreements and liability contracts. I had been given the green light during a phone interview and briefed on the project beforehand. Elon Musk, back then just a random South African transplant via Canada with an E-Bay off-shoot called PayPal was going to start a new fragrance line. Carson's secretary emailed me some photos and design specs so I couldcome up with some slogans and whatnot. This was no quinceañera, I'm a real rodeo clown here. I've already got two files ready to go so I can just take the rest of the day off.
- By the way, I can't actually take the rest of the day off. I'm supposed to be working on the files here at the office, so I just sit at my desk and surf the internet with Photoshop and a few other graphic editing programs open so it looks like I'm working. Carson stops by to see if I have any questions. I make some things up just to feel him out. It seems like I was right on the money with my ideas so I relax a little bit and get ready for lunch.
- He reminds me, "The design meeting is tomorrow morning, at 9:00 a.m., so make sure you're on time tomorrow." I struggle to hide my grimace. I start to apologize and explain but he cuts me off. "Yeah," he says dismissively, "I only live about nine blocks from the office, so I never have to deal with all that bridge traffic." He laughs and walks away. Lucky dick.
- I'm an independent contractor, so I get an hour unpaid lunch while I'm in the office. It takes twenty minutes to walk to the nearest restaurant so most of the hourly employees bring their lunches with them. I was not as prepared as I thought. After scarfing down a fucking Subway sandwich I hurry back to my desk, dreaming of Chinatown dim sum. There's always bagels and coffee in the break room. If traffic isn't so bad on the way home, I can stop and have sushi. Dammit, I should have ordered a pizza like the girl in the cubicle next to me. Didn't I learn anything from Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
- The rest of the day goes pretty smooth. I order a few gadgets from Circuit City and put them on my credit card. This gig is in the bag, I know it. I had offered to stay an extra thirty minutes since I was late that morning. When I start shutting down my laptop, I notice that I'm one of the last people left in the office. Time to make like a baby and feet first.
- So much for sushi. By the time I get home, I'm exhausted and my favorite sushi place closed almost two hours ago. I heat up a couple of Hot Pockets and call it a night.
- I set my alarm for 3:00 a.m. but fell back asleep. I jolted awake thinking I was going to be late, but luckily I still had five and a half hours to get to work. I was on the road by 4:03.
- There was barely any traffic, so I arrived in the city three and a half hours early. Great, now I have to pay even more for parking. I drive around for an hour and then decide just to pay the day rate. It's $20 more than hourly would cost, $45 total. Why didn't I just take public transportation?
- After checking out Chinatown to kill some time (everything was closed, no fucking Dim Sum), I am at my desk right on time (which means fifteen minutes early). I grab some coffee and get ready for my meeting.
- Carson finds me in the conference room and tells me the meeting has been postponed until after lunch. I thank him and say no problem, swearing to myself that this is just payback for yesterday. More time to kill. Other people might thank their lucky stars they have a chance to fine-tune their design files. In my experience, the more I tweak my designs, the worse and worse they get. Just go surf the internet and wait it out (MySpace was popular back then).
- I call a taxi service so I can eat a proper lunch, what's another $20? This campaign is mine, I can feel it. The Dim Sum place was terrible, so I stopped at Subway again. I should have listened when the taxi driver suggested Indian food, but I didn't want to go to my meeting smelling like curry. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.
- Carson's secretary buzzes my line and tells me the meeting will be at 4:30. "Great," I say as enthusiastically as I can.
- I had been sitting in the conference room for about fifteen minutes when Carson finally shows up. After another fifteen minutes of fiddling with the speakerphone and screen projector, we connect with the office in New York (Jesus, they're at the office late). First, we look at the drafts created by the New York designer.
- "Wow," Carson says, "What do you think?"
- It takes me a second to notice that he's asking my opinion. I try to think of something nice to say. Quite frankly, I was expecting some stiff competition from Sex & the City over there. There were no slogans, no catch phrases. The imaging was sub-par. Clearly, these were not fit to print.
- "Clean," I mustered. "Simple. The second one really lets the bottle speak for itself." I think to myself, oh God, for the love of buttplugs this stuff better smell good.
- "Well, I'm going to be honest here," Carson says, "I'm disappointed in you, Jim. I thought we were on the same page yesterday when we had that chat after lunch. Then, you needed more time today to finish this and I shuffled stuff around and made it happen, but this is unacceptable. I hope our new designer here has something we can use or else we can just kiss this client goodbye."
- Uh oh, the pressure was all on me.
- One minute before I was supposed to be leaving for the day, we take a look at the mock-ups I had created.
- "Yes!" Carson says, "Now this is definitely more like it. I was afraid we were going to have to outsource this campaign after Jim's crap. This is something we can show Elon. I mean, come on Jim, you didn't even include the name "Tesla". I told you, that was going to be the name of the fragrance line, not PayPal. You're getting old, Jim. I think maybe you should look into some Gingko Biloba, you keep making mistakes like that."
- There are some muffled apologies from the other end. Apparently, Jim had plastered "PayPal" all over his mock-ups and had to spend time correcting his files.
- "Okay, well crikey, it is getting late here. I gotta go hit the court for squash at eight. We'll talk more about this tomorrow." Carson ends the call abruptly, like he has hundreds of times before, I imagine. Turning to me, he says, "Nice work, really. Do you think you can come up with two more of these, let's say ... by the end of the week?"
- "Of course," I reply. I don't want to get smug just yet, but I can make these things in my sleep.
- After another long day in the city, I start the arduous commute back home with a spring in my step.
- With my morning commute timing finally down, I arrive at the office with some time to spare. After a quick chat with the IT guy in the break room, I set myself up in the conference room. This time I took the liberty of printing some stuff out for the presentation. I think it's more impressive than a just a digital image, and I really want to land this account.
- Carson arrives and apologizes for being late. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Since we looked at Jim's files first last time, this time it was my turn in the hotseat.
- Carson doesn't say anything. There is a pensiveness in the air that I can't quite finger out. I was expecting accolades. An unknown voice from New York breaks the silence, "These are fantastic. I really like the second one, very edgy."
- Was that Elon? I didn't have much time to respond before Carson chimed in, "Okay, Jim, you're up."
- On with the show.
- In the middle of Jim's presentation, Carson cuts him off. "That's alright, Jim. No need to continue. This is just terrible. Who exactly are you trying to sell to here? Sixteen-year-old girls? And what are you trying to sell them, unicorn farts? Again, I don't see "Tesla" anywhere in these ads. I can't believe you even bothered showing up for work today, I would have pretended I were sick if I were you."
- The unknown voice comes on the loudspeaker again. "I think I've seen enough, let me think it over for a few hours and I'll make a decision by the end of the day."
- Cool with me. Easy, breezy Japanesey.
- Carson sends me an email. The voice on the conference call was none other than corporate business magnate, Elon Musk. We're all set for a final draft by Monday morning.
- I wasn't really planning on working all weekend, but I never miss a deadline. The good news is I can leave early and maybe beat the traffic. Ack, nevermind, rush hour on Fridays starts at three.
- There's no need to go in to the office since I am able to work from home, so we telecommute the conference today. I prefer to see people's reactions in person, especially when it comes to unveiling designs, but oh well. To be fair, and mostly because it was in the budget, Jim has been asked to do a final mock-up as well.
- I notice right away that Jim had already used that image in another design iteration. I think he probably subscribes to a lot of old-school design philosophies like, "less is more", and while I do appreciate minimalism and and the elegance of black and white, I perceive this particular look as a bit trite and contrived. Certainly, Valentino or Ralph Lauren had a very similar ad campaign not even a month ago. But, thankfully, this time I was not asked my opinion, and I only listened in close enough to hear when it was my turn to speak. I was multi-tasking and watching Beavis and Butthead on mute in the background. Hilarious.
- It was a slam dunk success. Elon was so thrilled with my work he decided to launch two more fragrance campaigns. Carson was ecstatic and asked me for two more mock-ups by the end of the week.
- "Sure," I say "I'd love to." What a dream come true.
- As long as I can work from home.
- I finish up the typography on the two additional advertisements and tuck in for the night. Now I can relax until Friday's pow-wow.
- I stroll into the office a few minutes late. What are they going to do, fire me? I stopped at Starbucks to get a mocha, figuring that the meeting would start late anyways. And it did, but I could always blame traffic and just hide the coffee if I was wrong.
- There were some problems with the conference equipment but the IT guy came in and fixed it. Why'd I insist on coming in today? I'm getting hungry already and it looks like I'm going to have to take a late lunch. I'm sick of bagels.
- Anyways, here they are, my final two designs for Elon's Musk. I'm sure you'll be seeing these in magazines pretty soon.