Thursday, 23 April 2009

Confessions of a plug socket repairman wannabe

I have a confession. I have no idea what I'm doing. But I'm in too deep now to admit it. I thought that I would make some fast cash but it so quickly spiralled out of control.

My name is Josh Cuppin. I'm 36 and I'm in advertising. I didn't mean to be. I didn't mean to be in advertising and I didn't mean to be 36. Both just happened. It started with when I was having a job interview to be a plug socket repairman for Gringer and Gringer advertising consultancy Co. During a discussion of which mnemonic I use to remember the order of the coloured wires in the plugs, there was a knock on the office door.

A young chap with glasses that made his face look like the front of an Oldsmobile, poked his head around the door and said that he didn't mean to interrupt but their meeting was in its 5th hour and they were no closer to cracking what to do with their 2 in 1 dishwasher tablet problem.

"what problem is that?" I asked, partly out of curiosity.
"They have a 2 in 1 dishwasher tab, but sales are flagging. We're stumped where to go from here". The man looked close to tears. In an attempt to lighten the mood I flippantly said
"Why not a 3 in 1?"

I wake up in the night crying from the nightmarish recollections I have of these moments. Why couldn't I just shut up? Why was I so desperate to impress the guy for a job that primarily would involve unscrewing plugs. But no. I had to suggest a rubbish idea. And they loved it.

Before I knew it, I was in the meeting room, surrounded by tacky suit wearing morons all chatting insipidly about the idea of a 3rd bit on the dishwasher tablet. Eventually it came to pass "The powerball". I didn't sleep that night. I couldn't help but think that I was part responsible for the introduction of an entirely unnecessary invention that doesn't do anything. But I also had a large envelope of money plus a job offer of advertising coordinator. I also had the admiration of the others in the room who I assume would have lost their jobs if they had come up blank. I also got the offer of having 2 of their wives and one of their husbands.

So I sat in the office the next Monday knowing that I would have to help again. That I was part of this machine that I got annoyed with every time adverts came on between my programmes. Now yes, I would have technically helped by fixing their plugs to allow their electrical items to facilitate their awful dreams and ideas, but now I was more directly involved.

So the first day. I had bought a gaudy shirt and tie and "ironic" cuff links to try and blend in a little. The team market meeting provisional leading supervisor took the stage and showed us the first slide to outline the new issue. Gillete.

The room was awash with initial ideas of what to do. Apparently it wasn't masculine enough. That somehow Gillete's image was vaguely feminine. And all the while I sat there, doing nothing. Petrified. Afraid that someone might at any minute uncover me as the fraud I knew I was. After 5 minutes, the room got progressively quieter, as each idea fell from grace.

Finally Ron, the vice-chair manager of advertising turned to me and said "Well Josh?". Time seemed to stop. The air in the room stopped moving, as if too waiting for my response. Finally Ron spoke again. "What is more manly than the 2 bladed Gilette razor?".

"um..... a three bladed razor". Silence. Nothing. No one dared move. Then sudden unleashed furore. "Superb!", "the machismo of it!", "It's like having 3 penises!". And that was it, my fate was sealed. Now all I do when I'm in a meeting is wait for as long as I can, ready to perform my one trick again and pray that no one finally says "Hang on, aren't you just adding 1 to it each time?! A 2 year old could do this!".

But no, just more money, more offers of money cars and spouses.

I just wanted to fix plugs.

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