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


#313 In which our hero receives another message from the past.

You probably forgot that the site even exists… I know I did, even though I’ve received a message from a past me before.

And I recently got another message from the past! Message plus commentary follows.

Dear FutureMe,
Hey man. Right now it's 2/8/06 and I'm sitting in my office at Impact Direct Copywriting.

Generally speaking, I try not to name names in my blog, especially when it comes to employers. However, to say this place was rinky-dink is an understatement. And, more to the point, I tried to bring up the website and it is 404, and the phone number is disconnected. I suspect that the owner, my previous boss, has moved on to other endeavors. Because for as much as I thought the guy was an advertising dumbass, I can’t take anything away from his hustle. He was always trying to make a buck with the next big thing.
I have a second interview at XXXXXX tomorrow, and I'm excited as shit. I really want that job. Driving down to Akron every day would be a total pain in the ass... but more money? Better working environment? Actually working with other people instead of sitting alone in a shit-hole rented office answering phones for a computer repair place? Yeah, it would be worth a little extra driving time.

I got that job and worked there for five years. It started out great, but many, many things had changed by the time I left. The company had been bought by another, larger agency; the focus of our work shifted, the agency name actually changed; and, more significantly, the culture of the place radically shifted. It’s not bad, per se, but it is very different from what it was when I started. For these reasons and others I knew it was time for a change.

(if the “answering phones for a computer repair place” comment seems like a non sequitur, understand that my hustlin’ boss was running at least three businesses out of the one rented office so, depending on who was in and what line was ringing, I had to answer the phone for the advertising agency, a computer repair business or a hospital supply company.)

And the drive to Akron every day? It really wasn’t that bad. The heavy traffic was always heading north to Cleveland when I was driving south, and vice versa, so that was never really an issue. In the winter I could always count on a couple 3-hour commute days because of the ice and snow. But to be honest, I enjoyed the time to think, and I went through a lot of books on tape. Lots of wear and tear on my car, though.
Anyway... I hope your career is doing better. At the very least, I hope you're making more money. I so want to get out of here. I hope Malone works out. I also have a resume into Point to Point Communications... but haven't heard anything from them yet.

Pretty sure Point to Point never called me back.
I'm a little surprised how much of my happiness comes from my work. I never thought I was one of those people. Guess I am. Since I'm not really enjoying my work right now -- or, at least, my co-worker or environment -- it puts stress on my. And, my extension, on [The Scientist] and the girls.

This still surprises me. With this new job, I’m painfully aware that I’m 43 years old and not at the point in my career that I wanted to be. I feel like I need to catch up. This is partly due to the fact that I’ve been laid off from several jobs (not my fault); but it’s also partly due to the fact that I’m a little lazy (all my fault). I’m hoping for some quick advancement at his new agency… we’ll see what happens. Could be very frustrating for me.
Holy shit... Doug (my current boss) just walked in and asked me, "What's a hyphen? Is it an underline?"
Good. Lord.

I don’t remember this exchange, but it sounds pretty typical. He considered himself a copywriter, but constantly had me proof his stuff, which was terrible without exception. It doesn’t surprise me that he would have a lack of understanding about simple grammar. Hustle, yes. Writing skills, no.
Anyway, I'm setting this to send five years from now. If you're still in the same office answer that guy's dumb-ass questions at that time... well, there are razorblades in your toolbox.

Thankfully, it never came to this. In fact, I was out of there shortly after writing this message.

Take care, future me.

Thank YOU, past me!

I’ll write another one, and set it for another five years in the future. Good Lord, what will that be like? I’ll be nearly 50, and the girls will be 13 and 10.






Got a shoeshine the other day.

This is not usual behavior for me, for a couple of reasons. First, I generally don’t wear shine-able shoes to work. See, when I started this new job I adopted the “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” mentality and bought new shoes. These shoes, to be exact:

I agonized for an embarrassingly long time about what kind of shoe to buy (and then for an even longer time on what kind of socks to wear with my new shoes) because I was determined to continue to wear jeans—albeit new, more fashionable jeans—and the shoes had to look decent.

I became enamored with Clarks Desert Boots and ordered a pair online. They’re served me well. But they’re suede. So I can clean them, but not shine them.

That said, I have a pair of Doc Martens dress shoes that I like a lot. I’ve had them for years and don’t wear them as an everyday shoe. I think of them as my “grown-up” shoes, i.e., what a real professional might wear to work every day. Generally I wear them to fancy functions or for client meetings.

I had such a client meeting a couple of weeks ago, so I wore these shoes in. Since there’s a shoeshine guy in the lobby of my building, I figured I’d get a shine. This would be my first professional shoeshine since I had the shoes I wore to my wedding shined. So, it’s been ten years since my last shine.

First, a word about the shoeshine guy in the lobby.

If you saw this guy in a movie, you’d accuse the writers of lazy storytelling. I mean, he is every stereotypical shoeshine guy you’ve ever seen in the movies: older, African-American, gray-haired, stoop-shouldered, shuffling. He has the typical set-up right outside the elevators, two elevated chairs atop a platform of drawers full of mysterious shoe shining polishes and creams.

I walk past this guy every day. Sometimes he’s reading the newspaper, but usually he’s just sitting there staring off into space. I’ve seen very few people stop to get a shine. It strikes me as a sad life… sitting there waiting, waiting for someone to stop.

A co-worker and I were talking a while back about shoes shines and what they cost. Thinking back to my pre-wedding shine, I realized that I didn’t remember what it cost. I had it in my head that it was something like $15, but that seems high. But then again, I had nothing to judge it against. What’s it worth to get a shoeshine? It’s not a necessity, it’s more of a commodity. But then again, it’s a status-symbol thing more than anything. So if people will pay hundreds for other status symbols like custom-made suits, why not $15 for a shoeshine?

Finally I just stopped and asked the guy one day as I returned from lunch. “Six bucks,” he told me. Okay, that seemed reasonable. So I took my admittedly dull shoes downstairs and hit the guy up for a shine.

There were no other customers.

I found the entire experience to be a little embarrassing. First, I’m up on this elevated throne, right in front of the elevators where everyone looks automatically as they exit. Then there was the white-guilt aspect of having this little black guy shine my shoes. He asked if I had ever had them shined before, and I admitted that I had shined them myself, but probably badly. He grunted in (I assume) agreement.

I brought my newspaper so I wasn’t just staring stupidly ahead, but I mostly just held it up while I peaked at what he was doing. I wondered if there was some secret technique that I didn’t understand to get a really great shine.

But he just brushed off the dirt, rubbed off the old polish with some sort of deglazer, applied polish and shined them with a rag. He spritzed the rag with water first, I’ll have to try that next time. He spent a lot of time polishing the toes of my shoes. I suppose that’s the part you can most easily see when you’re looking down. It’s probably good customer relations to make sure that part of the shoe really gleams.

It probably took ten minutes. I paid him the six dollars, and tipped him two.

I can’t imagine he makes a living doing this. There’s a hotel in my building, and he has to be drawing a salary from them. There’s just no way he’s cutting it by shining maybe a pair or two of shoes a day at six bucks a pop.

Like I said, I felt slightly embarrassed by the entire experience. But when I was showing off my shiny new shoes back in the office, I noticed the guy had slopped show polish all over my socks.

I’ll have to remember to tell him to be more careful next time, when I get my shoes polished again in 2022.


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