Alas! One cannot live on Rootin'
alone. So, in the interest of making my annual contribution to the Social
Security coffers, I entered the workforce full-time in 1986.
An all-too-brief fling with
academia (I fancied myself a history professor) landed me right back in
the midst of all the corporate crapola, where I've been rummaging about
Somehow, I have passed through
the service industry sewage relatively unscathed. At least so far...
Along the way, there were some
significant stepping stones that were key to the development of my so-called
career. I'll briefly touch upon the highlights in the hope that my sharing
these turning points will inspire others to follow in these Roto Rootin'
footsteps and pursue their own waste(ful) management endeavors.
* * *
- Milestone #1: November
1986 -- Drawing upon the interrogation skills I perfected as a crack
day camp counselor, I break my first big story as a reporter for the
hometown weekly. Editor changes my headline after I leave, relabeling
the pontoon boats in my story as "booze barges." Turns out, my Dad's
boss is one of said booze barge owners. I write a quick retraction story
and learn my first lesson in fine art of sucking up to the big guy.
- Milestone #7: Summer
1988 -- Learn how to make smell of alcohol vanish from the body
through daily learn-by-example instruction of co-workers in filing room
of large Atlanta insurance company. Figure out that I'm not very good
at filing -- a character flaw that proves to haunt me throughout my
- Milestone #13: October
1988 -- Stop traffic at dawn in small North Carolina town while
escorting tuxedo-clad fireman, Pinocchio and a paper-mache whale (built
over a golf cart) through empty streets as part of bungled publicity
stunt for furniture finish manufacturer at big annual furniture fair.
Tops off night of waiting by phone for disgruntled tow truck driver
to arrive at McDonalds after hauling said whale 500 miles because it
wouldn't fit in U-Haul.
- Milestone #20: May 1989
-- Somehow convince someone at large
New York ad agency to give me a job. On my first day, my account
goes into review, and I am asked to conduct a survey of 100 women at
the company and ask them probing questions about their laxative usage.
Make a lot of new friends and help agency lose the account in only four
weeks, despite agency's brilliant employment of Peggy Lee song, "It's
a Good Day (for Moving Along)," as breakthrough new laxative tagline.
- Milestone #24: August
1989 -- Drive 500 miles to deliver sports equipment to softball
field for annual client-agency ball game. Only one hour into seven-hour
drive, co-worker turns to me and asks, "Don't you ever stop talking?"
I resolve to become just like him when I grow up.
- Milestone #33: May 1990
-- See two respectable, distinguished ad veterans nearly come to blows
over extreme differences of opinion. One thinks proposed policeman character
in cold medicine commerical should say, "How's it going," in scene one.
Other opts for "How goes it." Naturally, fisticuffs ensue. My vote for
"How's it hangin'" goes unheeded.
- Milestone #41: August
1990 -- In efforts to impress big boss man, attend late-hours work
function and miss last bus home to New Jersey. Sleep under kitchen table
of New York University dorm suite, with NYNEX yellow pages book as pillow.
Resultant photographic memory of all things in Manhattan starting with
letters M through Z astonishes friends and co-workers and leads to my
promotion to switchboard operator.
- Milestone #56: December
1991 -- Learn new meaning of global marketing on first international
business trip (Vancouver, Canada). After long days in warehouse shooting
commercials for new kids' games, creative director takes us on rigorous
tours of city's most sophisticated bistros, all featuring strange women
taking showers and rolling around on bearskin rugs.
- Milestones #61-79: March
1992 - November 1993 -- Master Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater"
and art of dodging vile insults and Nerf Blast-o-Matic pot-shots from
mean client with toupee over course of countless nights of karaoke in
lonesome New England bars & grills. Learn that "Hava Nagila" does
not play in Peoria, or Pawtucket.
- Milestone #65: August
1992 -- Coordinate multiple celebrity commercial shoot for dying
adult board game in LA and NYC. Highlights include being told to shut
up by orange-suited Little Richard, getting autographed LP from
Evel Kneivel and having rotten grapes thrown at me by Patrick
Ewing Jr. Somehow end up on-camera in commercial with supermodel
Elle Macpherson and become Screen Actors Guild member. My acting
career goes nowhere, and Elle and I split over irreconcilable philosophical
differences (she's a Mets fan and insists on wearing her hat in Yankee
- Milestone #82: January
1994 -- Travel from Sydney to Hong Kong to Macao to Los Angeles
to Cleveland to New York and then on to Toronto in less than 60 hours
to attend commercial shoot for pachyderm-shaped children's activity
game. On stopover to shower and catch breath in frostbitten NY, fall
asleep in "The Joy Luck Club" and get verbally assaulted by irate psychopath
who claims I kicked his chair and ruined the movie by spilling his Good
- Milestone #95: March
1994 -- Hole up in smog-choked Mexico City to write 100-page overview
of Mexican children's toy & game market (in Spanish). Learn Windows
3.1 on pirated Venezuelan software and nearly die of asphyxiation when
I enter office men's room and realize that verb, "to flush," has not
yet been introduced into office vocabulary. Resolve to run up hefty
expense reports as soon as possible.
- Milestone #107: September
1994 -- Get in shouting match with cranky, stogie-chomping new boss,
who wants me to manipulate research numbers to prove that over-rated
comedian is an effective celebrity spokesperson. I resign immediately
and announce plans to go on cross-country trip and finally finish graduate
degree. He gives me the phone number for a substance abuse counseling
facility and asks me when I can have the report completed.
- Milestone #110: January
- September 1995 -- Hoodwinked by my old nemesis, Filthy Lucre,
I return to old bad job and 70-hour work weeks on toy & games account.
After creative director throws chair at me and SWAT team storms my apartment
building, realize it's time for a change of scenery. Give away my New
York Transit Museum membership and move to Chicago to work for kinder,
gentler ad agency with goal of making the world a safer place to shave.
- Milestone #122: June
1996 -- Successfully avoid row after row of outlet malls, bratwurst
joints and cheese shops on road from Chicago to Wisconsin to attend
rigorous "team training" sessions under tutelage of distracted man with
open shirt and lots of chest hair. Learn that I am a standard psychological
type that shuns group activities and has no patience for bureaucracy.
Good thing I stumbled upon the old ad game!
- Milestone #143: January
1997 -- Float up-river to Kansas City to build Web sites for friendly
little ad agency. Astounded after first week when I realize no one has
yelled at me in five days. What gives?
- Milestone #167: April
1999 -- Head out of town at sundown and embark on yet another journey
to parts unknown, my three cats and wacky wife by my side...
- Milestone #192: August
2000 -- Make that FOUR
- Milestone #207: January
2002 -- Err, would you believe FIVE
© 2001, Kevrave