Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thank God for Sitcoms

It's hard to talk about my work life lately without sounding like a whining, whiny little whiner. That might might be an indication that I'm turning into a whining, whiny little whiner. But after being in the "agency" world for 10 years now, I'd like to think I have more, not less, perspective on it.

Talking about specifics, as in any industry, sounds too "inside baseball." The only analogy I can conjur is this: Imagine if you were a pilot in Minneapolis. It used to be that someone ran up to you and said, "I need to be in New York in three hours. Can you get me there?" You would cancel the flight you were scheduled to fly, keep your grumbling to yourself and do it with a smile... even if you had to follow their exact route (though you knew a better one), and the flight was unpaid in exchange for the promise of future flights.

Now, the person running up to you is saying, "I know it usually takes 20 hours to fly to Tokyo, but I need you to get me there in eight." Expectations have gone from "aggressive" to exceeding the limits of the time/space continuum. (Why? Because we kept doing those flights to New York...)

Yesterday, I was in the middle of agency chaos. Putting aside other projects with roaring deadlines, I was trying to help save another one that had blown up earlier in the week. The deadline was Tokyo-esque. The client was well-known and a big fish. The agency founder had confidently taken the reins from the previous project manager, but now he was in the hospital after experiencing severe chest pains while playing hockey in June. One by one, as I was trying to meet the next hour's deadline to meet the "end of the day deadline" to meet the final deadline, well-meaning colleagues kept charging into my office. In the course of 90 seconds, I got:

"We just found out the licensing on the 'Little House on the Prairie' music is twice as much."

"Hey, I know you're slammed, buy we need to respond to this 20-page RFP by next Wednesday."

"Do you have a second? I need you to look at something. Right now. No, you have to get up."

"Um, we can't find stock photography to make your concept work, and we have to show something to the client in three hours."

I sat back in my chair, numb, not knowing what to do next. My cell phone rang. It was Anne. I answered it.

"I was taking the pit out of an avocado and I just cut myself really badly and I'm with James and there's blood all over the kitchen and I don't know what to do."

After this little crisis bubble, when people saw me at the office and asked what was wrong, I reverted to the universal, "I feel like I'm in a sitcom."

Thank you, sitcoms. Thank you for those thousands of hours I wasted watching you in my youth. You provided me with a handy, efficient simile yesterday that allowed me to devote a few more seconds to writing voiceover scripts on the joys of sticking portable photo pockets inside high school yearbooks. But sitcoms, you're almost dead. And I fear the day when someone younger than I has a similar experience and says, "I feel like I'm in a reality show." That level of irony would pretty much signal the End of Days.

P.S. Anne is fine, and the offending avocado is in custody in the refrigerator.

6 comments:

Stephen Dashboard said...

De-stoning avocadoes can be a dastardly practice. Good to hear all is well.

If I had to "be" in any sitcom, it would be the original Bob Newhart Show. That was one sweet series. And he always came home to a great wife--who never took shit from him.

Would love to hear what other commenters would be in if they had the choice. Nice post Marc.

Bellamy Grant said...

My 92-year-old grandmother said yesterday that she really enjoys watching The Cosby Show. Me, I'd want to be the lone American in the British version of The Office, if that counts as a sitcom. Either that, or I would have been Hawkeye and Trapper's best friend on M*A*S*H, helping them torment Frank Burns.

The Wordman said...

I nearly became double-jointed while removing an avocado stone last year. the blade slipped and it got embedded in my palm -- as I found out later, bloody guacamole is real tasty: the Aztecs knew this from all those years of human sacrifice.

glad to hear Anne is doing okay.

Ted said...

Got to be either M*A*S*H or News Radio. Shiny nickel for anyone who knows what M*A*S*H stands for. I know the real answer so faking it won't work.

fab4fan said...

Seriously? Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. I could've used one in my kitchen the other day ...

Ted said...

Finally a blog that caters to the upper crust of Nerdom!