Monday, March 08, 2004
There are times in one's existence when the repercussions of our actions are felt far beyond the scope that they were initially intended. Sometimes, this ripple effect brings joy. Sometimes, searing pain. And sometimes, some very very magical times, they bring horrible emotional pain and boundless joy at the same time. The tale that follows is one that encompasses the latter...
When I was at the tail end of my employment at the Gazette, I was in a state of utter disharmony. I was working upwards of 16 hours per day. It seemed, at times, that my very existence consisted of ramming my head into a virtual brick wall over and over. There were times that I would be faced with a daunting workload, personnel problems and, as if this weren't enough, a day filled with pointless meetings with other members of middle management. Invariably, these meetings would center around the problem of improving productivity. "Cancel the fucking meetings" was always my solution, though I never presented it formally. Anyway, all of this contributed to my lax attitude toward drinking on the job.
It's not as if I issued an official memo stating that it was suddenly acceptable to work while inebriated. I simply drank while I worked. Pretty much every day. Sometimes I would be so bold as to mix up wonderful pina coladas at home, cart them into work in a thermos and drink them at my desk from a tiki-themed mug replete with a little umbrella. So there was that. Eventually, I was offered a job at the ad agency I'm at now and I took it. I did work out my two weeks notice at the Gazette and on my last evening of official work, myself and my worker bees went to the Loop in Manitou for Mexican Food and Mexican Drinks.
For anyone not familiar with The Loop, they're famous for serving a margarita that is as big as your damn head. I'm serious, the thing is huge. They also don't skimp on the tequila, which makes this fishbowl full of liquory goodness quite the potent libation. I love these things. I had one that night. It gave me a happy buzz. We ate and drank and had some fun and then we went back to work.
Collin, whom I've mentioned before and who's blog is linked on the left, had been working on an ad for a tax service. It was up on his screen after we arrived back at the Gazette. Collin was nowhere around at the time. The ad had a header that read "Early Bird Tuition Special." I changed the 'B' in Bird to a 'T' expecting that Collin would come back to his computer, see the change, laugh, fix it and everyone would laugh like in a closing scene from the TV show C*H*I*P*S except without Erik Estrada and without any freeze-frame. Sadly, this was not the case.
Unbeknownst to me, Collin had already 'proofed' this ad out prior to my now infamous modification. What this means, is that a printout of the ad had already gone to the account rep to be looked over. Things get worse. Collin had done SUCH A GOOD JOB on the initial ad that it came back WITH NO CHANGES! Ha ha! Fine work, Collin! The ad was then flushed through the system to the composing room with the evil little change intact. The ad ran in the paper the next morning. The ad looked exactly like this:
Everyone had a good laugh...Morning radio shows were all over the quirky misspelling. The tax firm's phones were ringing off the hook, never before did they receive more publicity. Even the account rep couldn't stop laughing about it while talking to the client. It seemed that the ad had brought joy into everyone's life...Everyone, that is, except for Collin.
At the Gazette, there is a system called Ad Manager®. Ad Manager® tracks ads for publication and makes paginating the paper a breeze. It also tracks who works on what ads through a log-in system. According to the log-in record for the ad, nobody had touched it with one exception. That exception being Collin.. According to Ad Manager, nary a soul could be blamed but him. Not a one. It HAD to be all Collin's fault. (I'd have stuck up for him, but I was conveniently long gone. I had started at the ad agency. The Gazette was in my past. Or so I thought).
I literally had no stinking clue that any of this had transpired. The Gazette diligently cut off my free subscription to the paper the very day that I left their employ so I didn't have the occasion to peruse the ads the day that followed. I did, however, receive a call that evening...
Collin: did you change a letter in one of my ads?
me: what? noooo, I wouldn't have done that.
Collin: please tell me you did, they want to fire me! Did you put the word 'turd' in one of my ads?
me: noooo, I...Wait, yes. Yes I did. You didn't catch that?
Collin: CATCH WHAT!? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME, MAN!?
Collin: Talk to Rob.
Rob: did you do this?
me: yes. Do not fire Collin. Fire me.
Rob: I'm so disappointed in you.
me: ha HA! ha ha ha! Just don't fire Collin, please.
I later learned that the gaff WAS caught in the composing area by a girl named Monica. She sealed her own fate by letting it pass through to the final run while exclaiming: "I'm tired of fixing the art department's mistakes! Let's see how they like this one..." She was suspended for that transgression. She ultimately quit over it. The saddest part of this whole thing was that, even though I had done all of the drinking on the job and the hating of the meetings and things like that, I still liked the Gazette and I wanted to make a clean break. There are always stories about people who 'leave their mark' so to speak with one last parting shot at a company. I didn't want to be that person. I wanted to leave with integrity. I didn't want to burn any bridges. I failed. But I got some good publicity for the tax people in the process.
I even heard that the ad made it on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
It truly is one of my proudest achievements. Seriously.