1.19.2009

The People Have Spoken...

Photo: Awkward Self by Jessica Herrington

And I guess that means I'll be continuing to yammer on about little ol' me . I was just trying to think of ways to make this blog more entertaining, but I guess that means I'll just have to have a more entertaining life! 

Luckily, I suffered a grand-scale embarrassment this week that I'm fully willing to share. I have a sweet new temp job as a Marketing Specialist at the same place I left in November, which is great except for my total inexperience and lack of marketing knowledge. My co-worker asked if I wanted to join her for a drink after work, and I accepted. She said some other people might be there. I said okay. We walked towards Union Square. I didn't know what I was getting into.

We arrived at the bar, which was inside a swanky hotel, and were ushered in by greeters with black t-shirts with the word "RECESSION" across the chest. Before I had time to figure out how I felt about the shirts (update: lametarded), I was overwhelmed by teak and mahogany, incredible lighting, and "digital paintings" that changed every few minutes on the walls. I don't know how else to explain it, but it was the fanciest place I've ever seen. It looked like the plush bars they show high-class criminals hanging out at on Law & Order. I didn't think real people had casual drinks in places like this. But apparently they do, and apparently I could too. 

I thought I was just meeting some of my co-workers friends, but I quickly discovered that I had walked into some kind of horrific meet & greet with the cream-of-the-crop of the Bay Area Web 2.0 professional community. Social events with my peers are hard enough, but I felt like I had ended up at a red-carpet event wearing sweatpants and a sports bra. That is to say, I was a sweaty fish out of water in a sea of well-dressed, well-to-do, motivated technology people. 
I put on a smile and tried to fake comfort, but it wasn't pretty. I just wasn't prepared for mingling. I need ample warning before I can get into the mingling mood. 

I'm not saying the people weren't nice. They were. They were just movers and shakers, and I'm more of a wobbler. Also, once it became clear through conversation that I was in no way connected to anyone important in the tech realm, I definitely felt the cold shoulder moving in. And I made the awesome mistake of mentioning poetry, which is almost magical in its ability to kill a conversation. I recommend it. 

Which forces me to digress to another story: when I first started at this company last year, I found myself in the elevator with one of the big bosses. We ended up making idle chit-chat, during which I stated, "I'm so-and-so's new assistant," to which he said, "That's great! And where were you before?" I froze. Where was I before? My couch? Sleeping a lot? Shoving handfuls of popcorn into my mouth? Crying uncontrollably in my car? I couldn't think. If I had more time, I might have thought of the right answer, which was, "I'm a self-employed artist working on a variety of projects," but instead, I stammered, "Uh...nowhere," and giggled a little bit.  That's right. I wasn't at Microsoft. Or Twitter. I wasn't fresh from a stint at Google. I came from Nowhere. Needless to say, my response elicited awkward silence until the elevator reached the lobby. Moral of story: Me not good at business talking. 

Back to the bar. After a number of well-meaning handshakes, nods, and smiles, and halfway through my second $12 Manhattan, I realized I had to split or or I was going to melt into a pool of sweat and liquid stress. I busted ass out of there and proceeded to decompress for the next few hours. 

I'm not saying I can't hold my own in any conversation or situation. I think I do okay. I was just caught completely off guard, and it made me feel like barfing all over the sparkly cut-glass 
bar.

**Also, if you have Netflix, I feel that it's my responsibility to let you know that Pee Wee's Big Adventure is now available to Watch Instantly. Tequila!**

3 comments:

anna said...

Man, I have been in the music industry for five years and that sort of event still gives me the cold sweats. I never feel like my connections are impressive enough, and my clothes are definitely not stylish enough. It's hard to talk to people who define themselves by their careers when you aren't one of those people. It's like how you get sick of ice cream (or, say, frozen yogurt) when you work at an ice-cream shop. Do you really want to spend your NON-work hours talking about web 2.0 futures or record marketing trends? Some people do, and it can be hard to understand.

laura said...

this just made me laugh out loud, multiple times, while at my own job, which although different, has equally horrific tales associated with it. this makes me want to make my blog funnier. dammit!

Paige said...

PC.

For starters, you were not Nowhere. You were pursuing self expression as a talented artist. Enough of these self defeating thoughts. Although I do applaud your candidness.

Second, you are in fact good at 'business talking' - as a smooth marketing operator you are now well versed in database AND you take the concept of business casual to new levels. And did I mention you make the office a funner (if that's a word) place?

Affectionately,
Your Co-Worker Paige