This is an ongoing study into the mind of an assistant editor, and the various small tasks he is assigned to.
Let me ask you a serious question; when you are editing a project and sitting in deep thought, contemplating what to do next, how many times do you think about purchasing a new line of make-up, and more so, how many times do you wish that someone would personally come to you while you are working to sell you that make-up? If your answer was higher than zero, then maybe this post isn’t for you.
Several months ago, I was sitting alone at a computer working on a project that needed to be done by the end of the day. All of the sudden two attractive young women in their early twenties, come strolling in the room. I am surprised and confused at this, yet not upset. Sure, they completely broke my chain of thought towards the project I was working on, but they were incredibly cute. After an awkward few seconds of me squinting at them to see if they were perhaps a gas leak induced hallucination, I finally said hello.
Me – “Hi there… What can I do for ya?”
Susie – “Hi, how’s it going?”
Me – “Well I’m doing alright, how about you?”
Nancy – “We’re doing great!”
Me – “Neat!”
Susie – “Yeah!”
Me – “Sooooo. What’s new?”
Nancy – “Ya know, same old same old.”
Me – “Yeah same here…”
Susie – “This is a great place you have here.”
Me – “I built it with my bare hands.”
Susie – “Really?? That’s awesome!”
Me – “Sure is!”
Nancy – “I like your shoes too!”
Me – “These are $15 dollar shoes, quite a bargain, huh?”
Nancy – “Wow! That IS a really good bargain!”
Me – “Haha, yeah. Listen, to be honest, I have no idea who you are, or why you’re here…”
That’s when seemingly out of nowhere, they pulled out a box of make-up and asked me if I wanted to purchase any. They probably could have guessed by the amount of rouge, eyeliner, and lipstick I had on at the time that I was very interested in purchasing make-up, because I was really caking it on that day. But I had to decline their offer, because as expected, a 24 year old man has no interest in purchasing make-up on a whim. When they asked me if I wanted to buy it for my girlfriend, I said I had no girlfriend at the moment. Then they told me I should get a girlfriend. That made me realize how lonely I am, so I started sobbing uncontrollably until they slowly backed out of the room.
What they did in effect was 3 things:
1. Completely ruined my self confidence.
2. Distracted me from the goal at hand (my editing project), which made me forget what I was going to do next.
3. Essentially wasted a large chunk of my work time, when they had no business there in the first place.
Door-to-door salesmen are pretty much some of the most anger inducing, useless people I’ve ever encountered. I know that sounds mean, but never once have I ever wanted someone to interrupt what I was doing to sell me the most random garbage you could possibly think of. Make-up, briefcases, waste management services, paneling; this is all stuff that not only do I have absolutely no desire to obtain, but it is stuff that if I did need, I would have already gotten, or put some thought into getting. Joe Schmo salesman never comes into our office and sparks my memory on something I actually want to buy, and if I did want to buy it, I’d probably just get it on the internet for cheaper like a normal person. If you are selling a random service, you don’t walk into a building that does something in which you have no idea what they do and try to sell them something they clearly don’t need. It’s almost like going into McDonalds, and trying to sell the cashier a timeshare. People are waiting in line behind you, she won’t buy anything from you, so you’re wasting everyone’s time and being a jerk.
I know I know, they are just trying to make a living in this bad economy, I should cut them some slack. But then again, when a stranger walks into our office unannounced looking for “the owner” who’s name he does not know, and tries to sell him train tickets, it borders on ridiculous. I mean I know that I personally buy train tickets at random while I’m working, because I love the convenience of traveling to mysterious places by train out of nowhere, and I will often get on a train to anywhere when I get off of work, just to see what adventures I will end up on. But that’s just me. Though I love it when people interrupt me while I’m with a client so that I can plan my exotic train vacation to Montana, I’m fairly confident that most other people wouldn’t want that. To be honest, I don’t know why…
As an assistant editor, it is one of my duties to ward off solicitors, to make sure that they don’t bother the editors while their working. Here are a few tips to make the whole situation smoother.
1. Establish a friendship with them early:
When they come in the door, start off the conversation with a nice phrase like “Hey, scumbag, what the hell do you want?”
2. Set the correct tone to ensure a pleasant stay:
Spitting on their face may be a little harsh. So consider spitting on their shoes or shirt. If by chance you happen to have a whipped cream pie handy, it would be appropriate to toss that into their face. (Just make sure they don’t duck out of the way, making your pie hit an old rich fellow).
3. Make sure they feel comfortable during their time here:
For months I’ve lobbied to get a pit bull at the office, because nothing says “come on in” like a huge dog foaming at the mouth running towards you at high speed.
4. Find creative ways to let them know how much you love them:
Install a trap door, it doesn’t have to lead anywhere in particular, maybe just a dirty pit, or even a fiery pit. Or go medieval, and have a cauldron of boiling tar above the door. One pull of a string, and all of your problems will go away!
5. Show them they are welcome before they walk in the door:
We had a traditional “No Solicitors” sign outside our office.
But that didn’t really seem to do the trick. That’s why I recently revised it to make sure they get the point.
Telemarketers are a beast of a different nature. At least you have to commend door-to-door salesmen on having the gusto to annoy you to your face, while telemarketers simply sit in their cubicles and call numbers on a list.
It is impossible to dump boiling tar or unleash your rabid dogs at them, so it is horribly frustrating when a telemarketer calls you. Often they will call you and say something along the lines of “Hi, buddy! How’s my favorite Burr Ridge editor doing today?!” Indicating that perhaps they are long time friends with you, and waste your time for 2 minutes small talking with you until they try and get you to invest in a website. Then it becomes a matter of whether to cuss them out, say “No Thanks”, or just hang up the phone abruptly. But I’ve perfected a new method of dealing with telemarketers. Once I realize they are trying to sell me something, I simply turn the tables and try and sell them something! You’d be surprised at how much it throws them off kilter. It’s also why no less than 13 telemarketers are now proud owners of Scott Roberts brand homemade wicker baskets.
I like to think that maybe there is an overall head solicitor, like a head vampire, and you just have to drive a telephone through his cold, shriveled heart, and all of his salesmen minions will be free from their annoyance spell. I think the world needs salesmen, I think they are necessary in order to buy goods your company needs, however, I’m referring to specialized salesmen who have something you actually want, NOT door-to-door salesmen or telemarketers, who I think are giant human mosquitos. Because honestly, you can be polite as possible with them; take their cards, shake their hands, give a fake smile; but why would they assume that an editor hard at work would like to be interrupted in front of their clients, so that they can learn a little bit about long distance phone services?