The 8th floor of a huge, high-ceiling building just north of Houston Street in Manhattan is a good place to work. My little chunk of it, a sizable room, comes with air conditioning, comfy chairs, a sofa, a whiteboard, a large mirror, an Apple device charging station, a yoga mat, several industrial-chic lamps, a coat hook, two windows that are each taller than I am, three unobtrusive plants, a magazine rack, and a conference table that can seat six. Ordinarily, the space costs $30/hr but it’s free to me from 1:00 to 3:00 PM via Breather, the room-for-rent service.
A psychiatrist I once saw operated in this very building. I dubbed him Dr. Worthless because I am uncharitable that way, especially after a break up. He tried to get me on a strong psychoactive medication and I resisted because my mother had been prescribed that very medication and reacted badly to it. He kept forgetting that I had said no, or kept pushing it on me anyway, and finally I lost my temper. “What, do they pay you or something?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he replied, without blinking.
He also told me I wouldn’t need the pills he did give me because the placebo effect of my carrying them around will suffice to keep my anxiety attacks at bay. The poets sing of placebos: Oh, a good placebo, who can find it? Its worth is above rubies. What would the copay be on an effective placebo? I’d pay rubies, sure.
Month 1 of DWYL: Year 2, is almost over. Year 2 is going to be even more scary interesting than Year 1 was, because Ben, my life partner and co-parent, has joined me in the quest of tying personal satisfaction to professional fulfillment. He has traded one FT, well-paying if soul-sucking job for a combination of two PT jobs, one of which is in what he thinks is his chosen field. I am still freelance. No benefits, no stability. This is, patently, crazy.
One morning I got up early and put on my only suit, which I bought off the rack for $230 from Ann Taylor Loft and which luckily fit well enough that it didn’t have to be tailored. I took the subway to Penn Station ($2 then) and one NJ Transit train to Newark-Broad Street so that I could catch another to some quaint clapboard suburban town, South Orange, I think? (~$6, off-peak). From the station, I walked to an boutique advertising agency that had an opening for a Junior Copywriter. I arrived ten minutes early, proud of myself — until I discovered I was actually 24-hours-and-ten minutes early. “I have you scheduled for tomorrow,” the receptionist said, apology and wonder in her voice. No doubt she was curious whether I would turn up.
Well, I showed her. I went home ($8) and then next day did it all again ($8). The best part is that at the end of the series of interviews, which included a writing test where I had to create a marketing plan for Dove chocolate, my potential boss beamed at me and said, “This is great! Thanks so much for coming out two days in a row. We really like you, and we only have one last question: Why do you want to be in advertising?”
You could have heard the buzzing emptiness in my head from three states away. I looked at him, my potential boss, the man I had spent valuable money and time commuting all the way from Brooklyn to impress twice in two days, and was as articulate as a fluorescent light.
Eventually he put me out of my misery and I went home ($8), crossing “advertising” off my list of potential careers as well as “anything in New Jersey.”
I have other stories too, terrible stories, as well as some great ones. (“Are you lying about any of this?” a potential boss once asked, pointing to my resume, and when I said, “No,” he said, “Great, okay then,” left the room, and I got the job.) Tell me yours! Especially any that necessitated a supreme waste of funds.