Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#054 In which our hero is petty (but not really).

It's petty. And the thing is, I know it's petty. Hell, I even started the conversation by saying "Now, this is petty, but..."

But, it's not really petty at all.

I had my one year review, and, as expected, I was not given a raise. My boss told me (as he did six months ago) that he wanted to give me a raise, but it was denied by upper management. In the course of this review, my boss wanted to "just chat" and discuss how I'm doin', if I'm enjoying my time here, blah, blah, blah. The thing is, my boss and I don't "chat." Ever. Frankly, I don't really like the guy, and have very little that isn't work related to speak to him about. In an effort to "connect" I once went into his office, sat down, and tried to strike up a casual conversation. As the awkward pauses became longer, I realized that it was a big mistake and bailed.

But, for purposes of customary protocol we sat and talked. He praised me for some things and criticized me for others. Being that I hold little to no respect for the man, l half-heartedly listened, all the while the voice in my head saying "whataboutthemoneywhataboutthemoney-." However, his criticism became a little too personal for my tastes (or possibly, hit too close to home) and I felt inclined to respond in kind. He had, after all, asked for my honest opinion. Which is something you really shouldn't do unless you're sure you want it. Really sure.

So I elaborated on his notion that we had never really "connected" with an example of why I thought that was.

A petty example.

He, an account executive and I drove down to Akron once months ago to check out the retail store of a client. The account executive, whom I will refer to as "the asshole" because he is a colossal asshole, drove. The three of us walked out to his car together. My boss got hung up for a moment checking something before it printed or whatever, so the asshole got in his car, then I got in his car. And since I'm not twelve, I got in the front seat.

My boss wouldn't have it. "Oh no," he said. "Get in the back. I'm sitting in the front seat." I said no, if you wanted to sit in the front seat you shouldn't have been screwing around. First come, first served. "No, Craig, I'm serious as a heart attack. Get in the back."

Well, I didn't make a big stink about it then, mostly because I had only been there six months or so. So I got in the back seat. But it ate at me.

Petty? Maybe... but the real issue isn't that I had to sit in the back (which, really, I could care less) but that he ordered me out of the front seat like I was his teenaged son. This guy is maybe two, three years older than me. Being that we're all adults and co-workers, I thought it showed a distinctive lack of respect for me.

And I told him so. My boss was unphased. He told me that since he was my boss, he gets to sit up front. Simple as that.
ME: So let me get this right. You're saying that because you're my boss, that gives you the right to decide where we sit in the car?"
HIM: Absolutely!
ME: Okay, I see we're done speaking.
And I got up to leave. He saw that I still had something on my mind, and had me come back and sit down. Even as I write this, I'm amazed at the arrogance that makes him think that our rank within the company gets him to mandate everything, up to and including positions in a car. I wasn't happy about it, and, since he was asking me to be honest, told him so.
HIM: Look, like it or not, I'm your supervisor, that's just the way it is.
ME: Hey, I'm not debating that, obviously you're the boss. I have no problem with that. But you think that allows you to order me into the back seat?
HIM: Yes it does.
ME: That's fucking bullshit!
An aside: it's things like this that make my wife worry that I'll get fired. I won't... it's hard to explain the advertising community sometimes. Crap like this is said, then forgotten. Sometimes it's more like working in a truckstop than an office.

But, like I said in the beginning, this is a petty example. But it does demonstrate my boss's attitude toward me. I told him I didn't like his attitude, and that while I was trying to work with him, it was clear that in his mind I could only work for him.

But, the conversation rebounded and ended on lighter topics, and he even said that he thought it had been "constructive," and thought it was promising that we could air our grievances.

Little does he know that I totally spit in his coffee while his back was turned.


#053 In which our hero talks to whores.

Okay, one more political thing, then I'm done. Really. Besides, if I post much more, I'm sure the republicans will smash down my door and take me to a "re-education" camp.

Shortly after the election, I noticed that my neighbor down the road had two signs in his front yard: "Kerry/Edwards" and "Support Issue 1." As you may remember, Issue 1 was Ohio's ban on gay marriage. I was more than a little taken aback that someone could support both Kerry for president (liberal bent, pro-women's rights, progressive) and Issue 1 (hateful, bigoted, close-minded bullshit). Then I remembered that we live in a country of hypocrites.

To illustrate my point, let me tell you a story.

Years ago, I worked in Columbus, OH for the daily newspaper there, The Columbus Dispatch. Unlike most major metropolitan papers, The Dispatch is still family owned. Specifically, the Wolf family owns it (as well as one of the city's television stations, a couple radio stations, a few magazines... you get the idea). The Wolf's are big republicans. John F. Wolf is the patriarch and president of The Dispatch. John F. (as he's in-affectionately known by the staff of the paper) always hosts republican presidents and candidates when they come through town, and is a major campaign supporter. Needless to say, The Dispatch is heavily pro-republican in their news coverage.

My point is, if there's anyone that should be supporting the "moralistic" approach to running the country that seems to have been mandated in the last election, it is the Wolfs and The Columbus Dispatch.

For two years, I worked in the classified advertising phone room there, taking ads over the phone for people that wanted to sell their cars, rent their apartments, give away kittens, etc., etc. The paper had dozens of categories from Autos, Domestic to Washing Machines. However, there was one other category that wasn't spoken about as much: Adult Entertainment.

Adult Entertainment was comprised almost entirely of "escort" ads. Now, it doesn't take a degree in rocket science to figure out that "escorts" generally translate into "prostitutes."

This was understood by everyone that worked in my department, even though management played down that fact. So, you might ask yourself why would a republican, morally superior publication accept such advertisements? While you're formulating your answer keep in mind that The Dispatch flat out refused to accept advertisements for tobacco or alcohol.

Give up? The answer is "Because Adult Entertainment Ads Make the Paper a lot of Money." The rates for these advertisements were three times any other category. One year, the cost was doubled in the middle of the year, something that would have been unacceptable for any other kind of advertiser. Oh, and payment for the ads had to be made in advance, IN CASH.

These ads were tightly regulated. The advertisers weren't allows to use any graphics, not even little stars or hearts or any other dingbats that were easily available for any other advertiser. There was, of course, a long list of words that where taboo... no "boobs" or "hard-ons" or the like. As an aside, this list of restricted words and phrases was ridiculously arbitrary. For example, you could print "busty," but not "chesty." "Teen" was out, but "she-male" was welcomed. There were many others, but it's been so long I can't remember them all. I do remember that it was often a source of great amusement when a phone operator put a caller on hold to call across to our manager, "Hey - can you say 'buxom?' How about 'stacked?'"

Advertisers were told that their ads could only contain three elements: the company name, the company phone number, and another tightly controlled third line, which was usually "in call/out call," which meant "you come to us or we come to you." By the way, "in home" wasn't allowed, either.

This sounds extremely restrictive, but I was always amazed by the imagination of the pimps placing the ads. Not surprisingly, the "company name" was always something like "Hot red-head sisters," or "Naturally busty she-male." God as my witness, those were real ads.

And here's the best part: not only did we, lowly phone room drones, figure out that The Dispatch was supporting prostitution, but so did the police. Occasionally, the cops would place bogus ads to bust those unlucky suckers that called looking to get laid. But! If the paper got wind that an ad was placed by the police, they would pull it! See, the paper believed in truth in advertising, and only real, honest-to-God whores were allowed to advertise.

So, would it strike you as hypocritical that a "moral," republican paper would rail against the horrors of a liberal government on the front page while simultaneously accepting advertising from known prostitutes back in the classifieds?

Sadly, it would seems that for 51% of Americans (including my neighbor down the street), it would not.


#052 In which our hero looks forward to the new house.

I can't wait to move. In my mind, I've already abandoned our current house. When The Scientist told me I had to rake the leaves or the grass would die, my reply was "Our grass won't die." Because, as we all know, our grass is really five minutes away on a wonderful cul-de-sac in front of our new house!

The Top 10 Things I'm Looking Forward to
in the NEW HOUSE
#10 Cul-de-sac
This is one of those things I didn't use to care about, but now with a child, is suddenly important. Our old street was a straight shot to the Wendy's on the corner, and got a fair amount of traffic. And some of these boners would come roaring down the street at unadvisable speeds. So now, I can at least be confident that if my daughter is run over, it will be by one of my neighbors, not a stranger.
#9 Master bath
Something else that never seemed important. But now that it is available, I keep have these wonderful daydreams about my own special bathroom... a room where I can go and never have to worry that I'm holding someone up; I can take as long as I want and no-one will ever come banging on the door. Well, except The Scientist, of course, but we'll work something out. Worse comes to worse, she can go four feet to the bath in the hall. A man's got to have his castle, woman!
#8 Giant basement
The basement in the old house was big enough for our purposes, but the new house is even bigger... so I have plans. I can have a shop in one corner, a painting station in another, The Scientist can have a sewing corner if she wants... it's going to be great. We have to store all our crap down there, too, of course, but there should still be plenty of room. I may even build a gaming table! Yeah, I'm a geek.
#7 Attached garage
We currently have a detached garage. And it's nice to not have to scrape your windows every winter morning - but! An attached garage means not having to got out into the cold to get to your car. We can go directly from warm house to car. No trudging through the snow to get there. Ah, bliss!
#6 Wood-burning fireplace
I love wood fires. The smell is wonderful, and the snap and crackle of the burning wood reminds me of every camping fire I've ever huddled around to toast marshmallows. And yeah, I'm sure the reality of a fireplace isn't that great... it'll probably a pain in the ass to clean, etc., etc... but I don't care.
#5 Small driveway
The current house has a long drive that does a little jog in the center, which is a huge pain in the ass when you're backing up. The Scientist and I have both managed to scrape the side of her truck while backing up (but never my car, strangely enough). The driveway of the new house is maybe 10 feet long and it's a straight shot. Easy to back out of, easy to shovel.
#4 Office
The new house has a little office off of the family room. This is a feature that we weren't looking for, but since the house had it, it's a welcome addition. We will set up the computer in there, meaning that our four bedroom house will really have four bedrooms... not three bedrooms and a computer/office room. And since it's downstairs, I can play shoot-'em-up video games all night long and not worry about keeping anyone up. Woo!
#3 Pantry
The new house has a gigantic pantry. Well, in truth, it's a hall closet that the homeowners turned into a pantry, but I think it's a great idea. It's not in the kitchen, and I'm sure there'll be a few awkward moments when someone tries to hang up their coat only to find shelves of tuna and Cheerios, but that's a small price to pay to actually be able to store more than a days worth of food at a time. This pantry actually supports the #2 reason...
#2 Bigger kitchen
I like to cook and this was one of my primary desires for a new house. The new kitchen is more than large enough. And since the house has a separate dining room, there's all the more room. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this kitchen... it has new countertops, a big-ass two well sink, plenty of counter space, lots of cabinets (especially considering that they won't be filled up with food, thanks to the gigantic pantry). And it's got a nice window above the sink so I can wash dishes and keep an eye on the kids in the backyard like the good little housewife I am.
#1 More room
Having more room was the big kahuna, the #1 priority for both of use when looking for a new home. We'll be going from what was basically a two bedroom bungalow to a four bedroom colonial - can you even imagine the extra room we'll have? We literally do not have enough furniture for this new house. The living room in the front of the house is going to remain bare for a good while, I imagine. The in-laws where just in town for a week, and it was tight. Having five adults, one toddler, two cats and a 90-pound curious dog in our little house meant pretty much everyone was in everyone else's way. But - never again! The new house will have plenty of room for everyone, even the stupid dog. Oh ecstasy, thy name is extra square feet!
December 18th I move all our earthly goods into the new house. Can't come fast enough.


#051 In which our hero is told the time isn't right.

The problem is, of course, that I was spoiled by my last boss. Well, not my last boss, really, but the last boss when I was working at an agency. My last real boss was at Progressive Insurance where I was working customer service on the phone when I couldn't find work at an agency... but I tend to gloss over that dark six-month chunk of my life. Anyway.

My last boss was a fantastic guy. Inventive, funny, supportive, someone that really understood the elusive nature of "being creative," and knew how to foster it. Someone who really got into brainstorming and made it a productive, often hilarious affair. But perhaps the thing that really makes him stand out is that he supported his people. Once when an AE suggested that I no longer go to client meetings (this because I told a client there was "no way in hell" that his idea would fly - which, in context, wasn't really as insulting as it sounds; and I was absolutely correct) he stood up for me and said, no, Craig will be attending future client meetings. End of discussion.

Naturally, this is leading to my relationship with my current boss, who is a spineless, simpering, two-faced turd of a human being. The longer I'm here, the less I like the guy. I have no doubt that he would throw me to the wolves if it would protect his own ass.

It didn't start out this way. I actually did some freelance for the guy a year before I was hired on here, and he seemed receptive, friendly... a decent guy. And when he called me out of the blue asking if I was still looking for work, he seemed like my savior. I meet with him and he seemed intelligent, and he took the time to read the stuff in my portfolio, which you just don't know how much I appreciate. I mean, I'm a copywriter - I do words. I've had many, many CD's flip through my book and I have to wonder how much they get to know my work that way... I mean, if you don't take the time to read the words, how can you know how well I use words? If asked, I'm sure they would say that they can "intuitively grasp" my skill level through the use of headlines or some shit like that. I don't buy it.

No, in our first meeting my boss read my work, and was surprisingly frank about his situation. Which was that he hired some guy who looked good on paper, but then couldn't do the job. He was only three months into the job, and my boss needed to fire him, post haste.

Now, I did find out later that he considered me when he hired this guy, but assumed I would want too much money. However, being out of the industry for a year and a half can seriously alter your perception of what you're worth, so when he offered a grand more than I had been making (which was about $13,000 more than I was making at Progressive but still about 8-10 grand less than I'm worth) I jumped at it.

But here's the thing: my boss and I both knew that I was worth more. We both knew that I was in a difficult spot because the advertising market is so tight in Cleveland, and the economy wasn't looking toward making any new jobs in the near future. But that was beside the point... I was worth more money, and in an ideal world, I would be making more money.

In the course of our discussions, my boss mentioned that if I were to pass on the health insurance plan, he could give me more money. Now, this might have been a desperation move, because right about that time I was contacted by another agency. That eventually went nowhere, but I met with this other guy, and frankly, would have preferred to work at his agency. But they weren't in the position to make me an offer, and I needed to take the sure thing.

But, at some point, the offer to give me more money if I skipped the health insurance (which I did, since The Scientist had a better family insurance plan anyway) was changed to the offer of having a six-month review.

Now, I wasn't really in the position to play hardball, and after six months of answering phones and getting yelled at by irate insurance policy holders, I didn't want to screw anything up. So I took the six-month review offer. Shame on me, since I know that a review is no guarantee of a raise, even if it's strongly suggested. And, if you haven't already figured it out, my six-month review came and went without a raise.

What I was told was that "the time wasn't right" for a raise. My boss made it clear that he wanted to give me a raise... which is easy for him to say, since it's the vice-president's call if I get more money or not. When I talked to the VP I got the same story. Which, frankly, I don't doubt. The agency wasn't doing very well, and he has 25 people to worry about paying, not just me. However, the way I look at it is like this: giving me more money is just the cost of doing business. I don't make commission, so I'm never going to have a "big month" in which they would have to pay me extra. My salary is a known commodity. It's what you pay to keep your creative, idea-generating copywriter happy. Now, if a sudden business opportunity came up and the president had to fly to Europe at the last minute, on a holiday - he would go. Even if it cost thousands of dollars, he would go. Because that's the cost of doing business.

So now, I've been here for a year. About two weeks before my anniversary date, I sent an email to the VP and my boss reminding them that my one year review was coming up. I admit I'm a little obnoxious about reviews, I expect them to be conducted promptly, on my anniversary date if possible; and if not, then as soon thereafter as possible. This probably stems from the fact that at my last agency job my review was pushed back and pushed back and pushed back until I was fired. It's obvious that no one intended on giving me a review because everyone (expect me) knew I was getting fired. So now I demand a review right away just to reassure myself that I still have a job.

So, a couple of days before my anniversary date, I get this email from my boss:
I have not forgotten that this is your one year anniversary and a performance review is the customary protocol. I will set up a time next week when we can get together.
What the fuck? "Customary protocol?" Hey, how about "Congratulations on being here for a year. I appreciate your hard work." It's obvious that he's burdened with the review process. To which I say: tough shit. It's part of your job. But, again, I'm not surprised, since he's deficient in many aspects of his job as Creative Director - like providing creative direction.

This leads me to believe that I won't be given a raise - again. Which chaps my ass to no end since I was basically promised a de facto raise at six months, and it didn't happen then. But, what probably burns me more than anything is that there's nothing I can do about it. The job market is no better now than it was a year ago... I could threaten to quit, but besides that not really being my style, I'd have nowhere to go.

So I'll suck it up. Oh, and steal as many office supplies as I can stuff down my pants. I thought about being honest and upright - but the time just wasn't right.


#050 In which our hero hates his state.

Dear Ohio,

You suck.

As I have been a member of this glorious state for all of my 35 years, I think I have the credentials to say this. I was born in a tiny little Ohio burg, lived in the state capitol for more than a decade, and now live in Cleveland (probably the most widely-known, if not widely-respected, city of Ohio).

Here's the thing, I can deal with the fact that Bush took Ohio... I'm not really surprised. I'm glad the margin was as close as it was, that still gives me a little hope. (Oh, and if Kerry really thinks that those provisional ballots are going to change anything, he's seriously deluding himself). No, what pisses me off is that you passed Issue #1 - and by 61% just to show you weren't kidding. FYI, here's the language of the bill:
"Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."
This steaming turd will now be added to our state's constitution, assuring now and forever, that the sanctity of marriage in Ohio is protected.

The thing is, I fail to see how gay marriage presented any threat to the holy institution of marriage in the first place. However, if the addition of this amendment suddenly sends Ohio divorce rates plummeting, I'll shut up. No, really, I will.

When I was 16, I went with my high school class to Spain. On the way over, I happened to sit next to a pilot from another country, somewhere in the Middle East. He was a very nice man, and tolerated my dumb questions. Funny, how if I were sitting next to a middle-eastern man in uniform today, my attitude would be very different. Anyway, at one point he asked me where I was from, and I told him "Ohio."

"Ohio?" He said, thinking about it for a moment. "A lot of corn," he finally replied. Obviously that's all he knew about my home state. I wanted to rail against him, tell him that there was much more to Ohio than just corn. But, after yesterday's election day, I wonder if he was right. Ohio has a lot of corn; a lot of rednecks; a lot of knee-jerk reactionists that point to their Bible as final proof of the legitimacy of their actions without pausing for even the slightest moment to consider that such a bill might have ramifications beyond the obvious sound-bite.

Issue #1 doesn't really affect me in any direct fashion... I'm married in the traditional sense, so no lawmaker is going to come after my health insurance. I'm not a business-owner offering domestic-partner benefits who will suddenly be forced to stop. I'm not even that fanatical about gay rights. But, what does affect me is the look people give me when I tell them I'm from Ohio. Many immediately assume I'm some sort of backwater hick, wearing shoes only because I was forced to for the length of my business trip. And yesterday's results will just reinforce that notion.

So once again: good work, Ohio. You're an asshole.