Thursday, August 7, 2008

Darkside-tales of the Mad Men

When fiction and life intersect, it's kind of creepy. My next call for a job interview was from a new ad agency downtown. The position was Director. I had the experience, the pov and a background in their "hip marketing ploy of the month" Word of Mouth Marketing. Cool. The director position leads the creative team-writers, graphic artists, etc. and works with clients-something I've done. I'm to interview with the CEO, and two fellow directors. Excited I burst into "good girl" mode. I spend four days immersing myself in all things "Word of Mouth." I research the agency- pour over their website. Delve into their client list. I prepare a presentation-have my talking points- offer up my strengths and counter my perceived weaknesses. I buy a $400 suit and designer shoes. Hip is in. I pack up my portfolio and crib notes and take the train an hour and a half into town. I put on my walking shoes and walk the two miles to the agency-duck into Nordstroms to change shoes, fluff hair, spray, lipstick, one last review of crib notes -spritz of perfume and I'm 100 percent confident I'll nail this job.

I press the button and am buzzed up. There is a hip young man in his early 20's at the reception desk and a big bright red vinyl sofa so low slung that it would be impossible to climb out of if you actually sat back. I tell him who I am and who I'm supposed to see. He points to the sofa and tells me to wait. Even though I am on time I wait 15 minutes. During that time I see one of the directors I'm to meet with walk passed-go down the elevator- come back with a soda. I smile at him as he goes by. He looks away. There is a meeting going on in an all glass conference room at the end of the hall. Full of men. They all check me out as they talk.

Finally the CEO comes out. I stand up. We shake hands. He says, "You wore a suit...on a Friday." (It was at this moment that I knew the interview would not go well. I hide this fact with a quick tease about how comfortable it is in the heat.) He walks me back to his office and offers me water. I decline and wait while he gets himself some. The interview itself was short and quick- filled with him explaining how important he was-how high powered he was- how he has a 20 something gal who was just promoted from intern to associate and was a real go-getter and how he was certain that a thirty something...(cough, cough-no I did not tell him my "real" age.) would be stuck in their ways. He asked me my salary requirements. I came in 5 grand under the director position. He frowned and said it was too high for an associate...(Huh, when did he decide I was on the same level as the intern?) I stuck to my talking points-my strengths, my experience. He mentioned the intern again...and that my salary was high for that. I countered that I was here for the director job and my experience was perfect for that. He stood-thanking me for my time and the suit... I explained that I had two other interviews scheduled- he did not believe me. I pulled out the printed e-mail showing the schedule. Frowning, he sent me back to the big red couch. (I should have just left at this point, but I'm stubborn. I had ridden the train -walked 16 city blocks- I was going to see all these men.)

Ten minutes later- he told me that the second interview was canceled- the guy who I saw earlier with the soda- was not at work today...huh. I waited another 15 minutes and the third guy-who the receptionist caught coming out of the elevator after popping by Starbucks awkwardly took me. Seems they all knew, I really wasn't right for the job...just looking at me...although they both said I should come back and talk to the "female" director whose team the position was for.

Nope. They never called back.

As my good friends told me- they wanted a 20 something airhead ready to give blow jobs and ponies at a moment's request. It's pretty clear that's not me. (For those of you who are wondering, I've been told I've held up pretty well-so no, I'm not a battle axe by any stretch of the imagination- or the crypt keeper for that matter.)

Have you seen the television series Mad Men-about a hipster ad agency in the 1960's. Below is a clip on how they treat women.

Yeah- this was like that...only I, as an assumed thirty something, was too old. What the fuck happened to the 21st century??? No, I'm not twenty- but then I know how to show up on time-turn my cell phone off-work 60 hours with a smile and actually solve a problem. (What the hell- how can I be too old to be hired when I still have 25 years until I can retire?)

Eerily enough-in the first episode of the season-the Mad Men's art director is getting nervous because 36 is far too old. People want 20 year olds... So, looking back I believe Mr. CEO had his panties in a twist because he was fired from his last gig because of his age. What do you think?

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