Friday, May 26, 2023

A Drive to the Country.

My wife and I took a road-trip on Thursday afternoon to stay in a darling little bed and breakfast not far from the Hudson River and to have a fancy-schmancy dinner at the Culinary Institute of America, across the wide Hudson, in Hyde Park, New York.

The area is about 90 miles from our apartment in Manhattan. And given that America's transport infrastructure saw its brightest hours in the 1950s, just after World War II, the 90-minute drive took us 210 minutes. That's the world today--or at least much of our world today. It seems subsumed by an "I don't give a shit" slovenliness that is about as attractive as decrepit highways themselves.

Having a lot of time to talk, my wife and I talked. And naturally, we talked a bit about the agency business.

"We're old," I began. "We don't really 'choose' jobs that much anymore. We're not looking for a home or any sort of culture. We want to make our money and not get too overly-pummeled. But how do young people choose where to work?" I asked. 

Laura, my wife, answered with her usual practicality. "I dunno," she said. "It seems like most every place is the same."

I avoided a giant-wheeled Jeep out for a day of destroying what's left of our planet. He had decided he wanted to occupy the same slab of cracked asphalt my 1966 Simca 1500 was driving on. I swerved and just missed his rear fender. It was the size of an old steam locomotive.

Laura continued. "The salaries are all the same. The lack of security and unbelonging is all the same. The offices look the same. The work is the same. The fact that your life is ruled by a far-away plutocracy is all the same."

"The business when we started was about being distinctive," I said. "Reception areas mattered. Your office space mattered. Salaries mattered. Who you worked for and the work you did mattered. That's all gone now."

"I have a friend who's a freelancer," she answered. "He only works at West Side agencies because he likes taking the ferry over from Jersey."

"I remember Lori (my long-time headhunter) telling me, 'George, once you're over 35, the only thing that matters is your commute.'"

She laughed and I screamed, again avoiding the same monster Jeep that was coming back at me like an incompetent kamikaze. I drove up on the median to avoid the truck and just missed a herd of hoboes scrounging for fast-food under a culvert.

"George," Laura admonished. "Pay attention. You graze one single bindlestiff and you're in arrears for $17 million. They have a union you know."

"Yes," I grumbled. "Maybe that's my career after advertising."

"It's a tight union," she last-worded. "They don't let bums like you in."

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