Saturday, March 14, 2009

No. 18


Beer: Hen's Tooth Ale
Date: March 13th, 2009

Place: The House, Somerville, MA


If there was a week that I needed to come home and have a beer, it was this one. If there ever was a week in which I deserved to come home and have a beer, it was this one.

Marianna's work laid off fifty people this week. It was a slow death layoff, too. Three days in which people - close friends among them - were picked off one by one. This one now can't pay rent. That one is moving back to Virginia. I don't know this one, but he is old and a proofreader and I don't know what jobs are available to those who make a living finding mistakes. Maybe he can be a consultant and let people know when they made mistakes. Like they made a mistake by giving someone a mortgage that they can't afford.
Or they made a mistake of thinking that a house is more than just a house. Or they made a mistake giving Bernie all their money. Or that they mistook the American Dream - which is also the undoing of the dream.

Mariana made it. Just got her salary, 401(k) match and summer Fridays cut. But not as much as some. I heard a group in the agency got cut to a four day workweek. A full 20% less cheddar to take home. Who's better off? Those let go or those hanging on? The ones free to look for a shrinking number of jobs? Or those in tied to sit in a place for a shrinking salary? I think the answer is the latter, though I can feel the fear in those places knowing they could have just as easily been in the former - or might be in a matter of quarters.

It was with a heavy heart that I drank half my beer.

I've always been a line item on a company's balance sheet. One which I feel quite honestly hasn't been very profitable. I bust my tail at times, and sit on it others. I sit in little rooms, rack my brain for ideas or images or words come up full sometimes and full of it most of the time. I toil for something I think it new and fresh and I'm told that it was seen last week, last year, in the late eighties. Nothing new under the sun.
I've pitched a dozen clients and billed hundreds of hours to agencies and been a liability and a drain on the ole coffers. For I've never been anyone who has brought new business into an agency. Not one account.

But twenty minutes after a meeting that came after two weeks of hard work three weeks after our own layoffs after a housing bubble burst after a few good years after a terrorist attack after a very entitled decade after we fought out of a time that looked eerily similar to our own after an embargo I went from the debit column to the credit column by winning a small bit of business. A bit of business that wasn't as big as the hope in everyone's eyes who knew, that for a minute or two, their job was safe and they could pay their rent and not have to move to Virginia.

It was with a content heart that I shared the second half of my beer with my wife.

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