|Beyond Madison Avenue: Beyond Sanity — A True Story
By: Brian Keller
This is our summer fun column. It really happened.
The agency staffer in our TRUE story (the world’s politest human will be represented by 'E,' the work seeker by 'A' and italics, and our third character by Blank.
This happened one October going into the holidays. We did not change the emails. These are real people.
A response to a query:
Thanks for writing. We'll have some agency material will need proofing. I'll write when things are approved.
Thanks for responding.
You send me a job, word doc, pdf, and I'll estimate how long it will take to complete. Please let me know if my hourly rate works with you. If not let's talk about it.
You’re welcome we return all correspondence. We can discuss possible freelance as our work comes available.
Some correspondence during October and November and early December, then:
For the first job I do for you, I’ll give you a good discount too!
Glad to help you when you’re ready.
Have a good day,
Thanks. We will let you know as soon as we have material. We got some copy for our website and are reviewing it.
I’m going offline in 15 minutes, need to go to the doctor this afternoon, I have a real bad cough and cold, need to get some antibiotics. This is the best number to reach me when I’m in my car, cell: xxx-xxx-xxxx. If you send something today, I’ll only be able to work on it tonight when I get back; it usually takes all day to see the doc.
Will that work?
If you need help with the proofreading, I’ll be here all day!
Let me know,
Sorry I didn’t get back to you and I hope you are feeling well. It will not be until the end of next week. Thanks for writing. Have a fun weekend.
I’ll be here when you need me. A lot of agencies send me the raw material before the layout, whichever works best for you is fine with me.
You have a nice weekend too!
Sunday Evening (GOING INTO XMAS WEEK)
You mentioned in your last email that you might need some proofreading help this week. Please give me a 'heads-up' so I can make myself available to help you.
Monday (Wow, doesn’t work weekends around the holiday? Slacker)
Sorry I didn’t get back. I try not to work on weekends around the holiday. I was taking care of my grandparents. We’re on the material now and hope to have it after the holidays.
NOTE: She was really helping her grandparents. She may be the nicest person in the universe.
I’m available 24/7, 365 days a year. I can help you up to Christmas with no extra charges.
Just a reminder to let you know I'm here to help you with proofreading
Please let me know
We’re trying to get this all done. Have a wonderful holiday. I hope you spend it with friends and family.
An Hour Later
Just a reminder to let you know that I'm here to help you with proof reading.
Please let me know.
An Hour Later
Can you please give me a day's notice before you send it?
E (Who is so polite we want to throw up) says:
Thanks for writing we'll give you time to prep. Have a wonderful holiday. We will be in and out next week. I apologize if I can't get back to you immediately. :)
(She put in a smiley face — we threw up.)
One Hour Later
When your website is ready for proofreading. Please let me know.
E Responds. She’s politically correct and still sounds sincere. Someone mentions drugging her and dumping her in her yard.
I will it's almost ready for the stager. I'm trying to see my family and to drive a few hours. Have a great holiday. We celebrate Christmas so if you do too have a "merry" :)
15 Minutes Later
I've been in touch with you a couple of months, is your website ready for proofreading yet? I just need a document. I don't need the stager.
Blank will look and we can start moving. I have to get going.
The smiley face didn't sedate him any longer.
What do you mean by stager, live? Before it goes live, I need to proofread it for errors.
We should have tied her up.
Before we go live we'll proof
We knew this would happen.
So what are you saying, you don't want me to proofread it? You've been in touch with me since before Christmas telling me that you want me to proofread it.
If you proofread it your own website, I guarantee it there will be typos. You have to be a professional proofreader to catch all the errors...
She dropped the 'hi' and the 'sincerely' and smiley. She's mean.
We have to show it to Blank. Then we will go about proofing. I need to run now.
You know she/the agency stinks/here's why.
You haven't been clear in your responses, who's Blank, never mentioned him before; I'm only offering to help you with the proofreading. For the past 2 weeks you've been saying it'll be ready next week. Etc.
She drops 'hi' and goes to 'dear' and the loathsome 'best regards.' What a bitch.
Blank is our Creative Director, and he has the final decision. It's our site. We'll take as long as we want to get where we want it. It's a holiday and if we use your services it won't be until after the holiday. I have to go. Thanks
Now he's lucid and really makes sense here.
You’ve never been clear in any of your responses, and I prefer working with people who act professional. I offered to help you by reducing my hourly rate and you kept saying next week, next week. You can take all the time in the world I'm not disputing who your creative director is, you've never mentioned him in the past — go ahead recheck all your emails. Our correspondence has only been you and I.
Plus, she promised him an extra kidney.
Just the fact that you wasted my time telling me that you wanted me to help you with the proofreading?? I've been in contact with you since last October, over 3 months ago offering to help with the proofreading, and you kept telling me it was going to be ready soon. I was patient, but you sounded sarcastic and mean. I don't prefer to work with people like this, it's not professional. You kept telling me that you wanted me to help you with the proofreading; it's the only reason I stayed in touch with you.
NOTE: Yes, the only reason he stayed in touch. He must have known that E promised proofreading jobs to scam men into dating her.
Blank sees what's going on.
I'm sorry you never heard of me; our new website will be ready when I decide it's ready. E has been kind to you and as she is to all who contact us. You make it difficult for E to do her job. Your behavior is boorish and borderline pathological. E took time out for you to write and respond to every note and you're acting like an ass. We won't need your services. Happy holiday.
Five Minutes later
It's too bad for you; I was going to reduce my rate to help you. Blank insulted me for no reason. I don't know why you became so angry, all I did was offer to proofread you website and at a discount rate too. I'm too busy to help you anyway. I only work for professionals, anyway and you can't afford me.
Three Years Later
This month, via an online networking site:
How’s the (he uses wrong name) agency going? You might want to proofread your posts before posting. You have a lot of typos.
Here are a few:
(He points them out)
Why do people answer this guy? Oh, one of them forgot.
I write that way on purpose as the character I’ve created.
Well, what did you expect?
C’mon, you don’t write that way, you’re educated right? You’re just trying to cover your tracks. And there’s the proof, you can’t proofread your own work no matter how many times you check it and I prove it every day!!
Why do people answer this guy? Oh, one of them forgot.
I can write what I want and when I want. There are no tracks to cover. Thank you for your interest. Write to E she hires.
Blank is really maladjusted, because:
I’m the best proofreader in the country! You sound jealous! I’m too busy to help you anyway.
Then Blank remembered:
Yes, A had written to E, who finally got wise. Here is her response to his query and what precipitated, we hope, the final letter to this one particular agency.
She’s just a big liar.
Good to hear from you. I hope you’re having a great year. Write to Blank about proofing. He’s micromanaging and is hiring proofreaders.
It’s hard to get a job in advertising — or anywhere else, for that matter. Whether it’s full-time or freelance, high-level or entry-level, there are ways to approach things and ways not to approach things. It is amazing that there are people who undertake the approach documented. Try and be polite. Not everyone is on your time.
Maybe you can write us with some pleasant, fun, 'unfun,' or unpleasant stories, ways to turn the other cheek, ways to successfully approach future employers, etc. Merry summer! :)
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.
Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.
He has built the creative departments at two agencies.
He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.
Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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