----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Somebody Needs to Talk Me Down From the Ledge

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Somebody Needs to Talk Me Down From the Ledge

I now understand why people feel the need to come home from work and indulge in a cocktail. I really thought that my homicidal urges might get the best of me today.

Here's the thing...my job is horrible. Well, objectively, I guess it's not. No one mocks me or ridicules me or berates me or degrades me. I'm not breaking my back doing manual labor or working in a factory with a substandard safety record. I even make okay money. I just hate what I'm doing.

Some background: I left my job in Los Angeles as a copy editor at a women's fitness magazine because my fiance and I wanted to move to Northern California, and he'd gotten a job offer. The wedding was six months away, so I figured I could use the time to plan and look for a job. Well. After interviewing for numerous jobs that a) I didn't really want and b) weren't offered to me regardless, I finally found something that sounded marginally interesting. I would be working for a company that helped non-profits raise funds through direct mail, and I would be learning about copywriting. I really needed a job, the pay was decent, and I wouldn't have to start until after the honeymoon. So, I accepted the offer.

Things were ill-fated from the start, since my lung collapsed on my honeymoon and I had to make a choice--start my new job in excruciating pain, or start my new job doped up on Vicodin. Vicodin won. Maybe that's why I was blind to some of the shortcomings of the job in the first few days. But I quickly came to realize that I would be doing very little actual writing. Instead, most of my time consisted of making slight changes to pre-existing Quark files and then either printing out those files or converting them into PDFs. Very repetitive. Very boring. To make matters worse, my bosses seemed to think I was some sort of designer. They seemed to think that I could resize logos and change backgrounds and adjust kerning and leading and make text fit and work with layers. Um, no. I am a writer! I work with words, not images!

After much discussion with the higher-ups, we all determined that this was not the job for me, but I agreed to stay until January 6 to help them through the busy season. I still have about five weeks to go, and I'm afraid I might lose it.

Take today, for instance. Yesterday, I spent four hours updating images in layouts and then turning those layouts into PDFs, under instructions from my boss. Today, someone else saw those PDFs and had a long list of changes that needed to be made, thus negating all the time that I spent yesterday. Why could I not have simply gotten good direction in the first place? Why, the company just couldn't possibly run that efficiently! So, I redid it all and circulated a new round of PDFs. But then, someone had the bright idea of adding explanatory notes to the PDFs. Fine. I did that. But then--oh, no!--my boss couldn't figure out how to read the notes! Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he's running a version of the software that was out of date, oh, about two years ago.

And despite my repeated explanations that I am not a designer, I keep being asked to do design work. Here's what happened today:
Boss: "We need to do a sample confirmation package for this client, but they've never done one before. So we need you to go into Quark, find another client that's done that kind of package, and adapt it for this client. Can you do that?"
Me: "No."
Boss: "Well, why not?"
Me: "I am not a designer. I don't know what logos to use, I don't know what colors to use, I don't know what style to use. This is not something that I know how to do in Quark."
Boss: "Just give it a shot, would you?"
So, three hours later, I managed to create something that I thought was passable. My boss looked at it and said, "Hmmm...I guess we'd better get Design Guy [the actual designer! That's his title!] to help you with this." Oh, really, ya think? Or here's a brilliant idea--wait for it--why don't we just have Design Guy do these things in the first place?

Design Guy is actually a nice guy. He goes out of his way to help me out with my stupid Quark assignments, and best of all, he gets why I don't want to be doing them. He understands that I'm a writer. But things are a little dicey wiht the rest of the "creative department." My other boss insists on reading all his instructions aloud to me, as if I am illiterate and can't read myself. And the other girl who's close to my age is just not friendly at all. I have tried to strike up conversations with her and I always smile and say hi when we meet in the hallway, but she has a tendency to avert her eyes and look over my head without acknowledging me, so now I think she's a bitch.

I reserve my strongest disdain for my primary boss, though. He seems completely incompetent. He's computer illiterate. He's not a good writer. He forgets everything. He's not at all creative. And worst of all, he stinks like cigarette smoke. Getting near him makes me want to gag. I actually developed a headache from having to interact with his stench today. This may be a terrible thing to say, but why doesn't he get cancer? It hardly seems fair that I, who have lived a clean and blameless life with no deliberate exposure to known carcinogens, should be struck by the Big C, while he, a walking ashtray, should be spared. Yeah, I know...life's not fair. I learned that the hard way. I think I may start taking a flask with me to work. If he can reek of cigarette smoke, why can't I reek of alcohol?

All right, I think I have unburdened myself. And if this is the amount of vitriol I'm feeling after two fingers of Scotch, half a Valium and a large glass of red wine, just imagine what I was like at the office! Violence was just simmering beneath the surface, barely contained. Who knows what might happen tomorrow? I think I'd better refill my Ativan prescription, posthaste.


Post a Comment

<< Home