PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Coffee With Dante

So, I was thinking about all those Circles of Hell, and what mine would consist of. Obviously the first one would have bad drivers and terrible customer service. The next one would be filled with all the stupid bosses, managers, and random idiots I've encountered along the way. The third one in would be filled with scratchy Red Heart yarn, and if there were any good yarns, they'd all be hopelessly tangled.

And this week, I am pretty sure that one of those next circles involves newspapers, and ad-buying, and sales reps. This one's going to take a little bit to explain, if you're not in the ad-agency game, so get yourself a hot cup of coffee & enjoy the tour.

Let me first state for the record that I do not hate newspapers. We subscribe to the Star, and even if we only read the funnies some days, we recycle. But my experience with newspaper sales is a long one. I worked for the college newspaper, both in ad sales and ad layout, and then my first job at an ad agency involved working on two major national accounts with local retail locations, and we had to compile local media options for all of them. I've literally called hundreds and hundreds of newspapers over the years, and early on, I asserted that if I ever had a frontal lobotomy, I'd still be able to get a job at one of those papers. I'm not talking about calling major papers. Even minor papers. I'm talking about those tiny little, teensy-weensy local newspapers, where the advertising person also writes a few articles, and drives out a paper if your delivery was missed. And not all of those people are terrible, or stupid, or have had frontal lobotomies, but I just recall looming deadlines of my own, a form I needed to fill out, and the agonizing conversations to determine whether the ad rate I was being given was net or gross.

The other thing about small-town newspapers is that sometimes you stumble into a "group". Where one company publishes twelve small papers. Sometimes these are the ones flung onto your driveway, the ones you don't want. But sometimes you still have to buy them. And trying to figure out how much these things cost can be tantamount to solving the most challenging logic problem I was ever given in college. Because they have combination rates, and frequency discounts, and then separate color charges, and everything's printed on a tiny brochure and nothing is clearly stated. And that's what I've spent part of my week wrestling with. I've sent the sales rep countless emails, to clarify if I'm calculating this correctly. Jesus, I'm boring myself now. Suffice it to say, it's been a week of yelling at my monitor, groaning, and being very, very frustrated, and feeling quite convinced that I'm temporarily visiting one of my rings of hell.

UPDATED: Oh, mah, God. I got to work, and within the hour, this rep emailed me for my address, phone, fax, etc. All of this information is in my signature, that has accompanied the SEVEN+ emails I've sent him in the past two days. Seriously. If I ever meet him, I expect a concave forehead. HAH he just emailed back and said "I guess I'm just brain-dead."

I'd drink more coffee as a coping mechanism, but our stupid coffee machine is broken. They "fixed" it yesterday. This machine is taking on the same qualities as the fax machine in "Office Space". I want to take it to a field and beat it with a baseball bat. Apparently when you lose your job at the newspaper, you move on to Coffee Machine Repair.

So, what would one of your Circles of Hell look like?
posted by PlazaJen, 6:50 AM