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


#123 In which our hero quits his job (part I)

It seems that the one great Internet truism is that you shouldn’t write about your work or your co-workers behind their backs. I’ve been rather cavalier about this in the past; and while I’ve never been fired from a job because of it (unlike some other Internet superstars) I’ve still decided that it only makes good sense to keep my fat mouth shut about people I’m currently working for or with.


Once I’m no longer working for or with said people, I think the gloves are pretty much off, and I can say whatever the hell I want. And so I segue into the most desperate and depressing seven months of my career.

Now, all four of you who read this know that I’m a copywriter by trade. If you’ve forgotten what exactly that is over the past two months: basically, I write the words you see in print advertisements and/or brochures, posters, et. al., or hear on radio commercials (and potentially, TV, even though I’ve never had any TV produced). It’s a great job, and pretty much I’ve always wanted to be a copywriter since I knew what a copywriter was.

In 2005 I found myself fired from my third agency in five years (it’s not me, I swear… my biggest sin is that I was the last one hired, making me the perfect candidate to be the first one fired). This last lay-off made both The Scientist and I pretty desperate, because we had literally just had our second child weeks before and we were heading into the heart of winter, which meant stupidly high gas bills. The fact that I had only been at this last agency for two months (okay, this one was me) only added to the stress.

So, I did the unthinkable: I picked up the phone and called someone I didn’t want to work for.

Some background: I had received a call out of the blue a couple of years ago from this guy who ran a small agency. He had found my resume on Even though I was reasonable happy where I was, I’ve almost never turned down the opportunity to explore a new (and potentially higher-paying) job. Plus, it was to be a lunch meeting, and I’m a huge slut for a free meal.

So I go and it quickly becomes clear why the guy was so reluctant to talk about his clients on the phone: his was a hard-core direct mail shop. Now, I’ve written plenty of direct mail, and I don’t have a hang-up about it at all. It’s a completely sound marketing strategy and, despite popular opinion, can be extremely effective. But this guy didn’t do direct mail.

He did junk mail.

Unapologetic, unabashed junk mail. I’m talking the lowest common denominator shit that appears in your mail, the stuff you toss immediately. The type of mail that makes you wish there was a “do not mail” list. Vitamins, herbal sexual enhancers, sweepstakes. Complete garbage.

Now, I could go on and explain that this sort of mail works, if it didn’t the companies wouldn’t keep doing it. But you have to understand that it works because they mail out millions of pieces of mail, and hope for a 2% response rate. This allows them to break even, and fuels more mailings. So, yeah, the crap works, but that doesn’t mean I wanted to write it.

So I high-tailed it out of that lunch meeting and told the guy I wasn’t interested. That is, until two years later when I was again out of work and had zero prospects.

So I made the call.

We met, talked, and I went to work for him three days later.

To be continued.


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