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The International Writers Magazine
: Lifestyles; The Businessman

People Like Me Take Your Money.
Brian Cooke

I canned eight people and increased operational efficiency by .01%; here, have a parking space.

R&D in T&A

When I was six years old, I dreamt of becoming an advertising executive. I’m not joking. I actually would discuss with my family ideas for television commercials and how well they would sell a product. And now, twenty years later, I wake up every morning, put on a suit, and go into an office. But today, I would give it all up to fight fires or save the dolphins. As I take the long road to the middle, I start to ask myself, where did I go wrong?

When people ask me what I do, I say ‘businessman,’ which in turn elicits a series of nods. ‘Businessman’ is a vague term that means absolutely nothing. Businessmen are essentially Neanderthals in $3,000 suits. Without even swinging a club I’ll take your cave and that caribou pelt while I’m at it.
But to be perfectly honest, I don’t really know what I do. I used to look at a man in a suit and think, ‘boy, he’s really made something of himself.’ Now that I wear a suit, what have I made? Well, I canned eight people and increased operational efficiency by .01%; here, have a parking space.

I can’t look at a building and say I helped build that, or you see that Big Mac right there, I warmed that fucker up. Everyday I come home and besides exploiting the less fortunate, all I’ve accomplished is a number. A number that I write in a memo every week and a number that goes in my bank account every month. But I can’t hold it; it’s not a Big Mac or a pile of bricks. I wouldn’t know what to do with those things. You can’t exploit bricks; but I’m sure I’d find a way how.

I recently interviewed a fresh college graduate. I asked him why he wanted a sales position in the company. "I want to work in a positive environment where I can be rewarded for my hard work. I’m not looking for a job, but a career…blah, blah." I didn’t call him back. When I was asked the same question years back I said, "Because I want to make a lot of money." I started work the following Monday. If I hear one more textbook answer I think I might cry.

I want someone who will come to me and say, "I am willing to lie, cheat, steal and climb over my colleagues in order to make money." That is what I call a businessman. You’re hired.

To put it in perspective, I was recently speaking with a friend of mine who is a member of the U.S. military. He said that in his line of work, if you have a bad day, someone dies. In my office, if someone dies it’s a good day; a management position has opened up.

I know a lot of ad executives and tech salesmen. But I don’t know one fireman, or one astronaut. My water cooler discussions are not about scaling the side of a building with one hand and a fire-axe in the other or pulling tuna nets off of Flipper. Instead I have suits pass me at the water cooler saying things like, ‘heh, there’s Brian, he’s knows the score,’ or ‘now that is a power tie. Boo yeah!’ The rest of the day consists of conference calls and pointless meetings about how there will be no Christmas bonus because Santa doesn’t love us. Occasionally we will all gather around someone’s computer to look at his fantasy football picks or topless photos of some B-list celebrity. I’ve seen nipples before, Karl. It’s fucking awesome.
Next I will receive an inter-office forward. After a week of seeing the same animated Squirrels dancing to music, I made an office rule that if you send me a forward, I will cut you. And that goes for the Dilbert cartoons that are placed in my inbox. "How crazy! It’s just like us in the office!" No Karl, it’s just like you, douche-bag.

We are all coached to follow this mundane and predictable path. Being interested in advertising markets at the age of six had basically mapped out my life: Birth, Little League, puberty, college, job, death. At least I know I’m on track. Is there a way to side-step this land mine? It’s too late for me, I’m fucked. But there is hope for others. If you seek emptiness, shallow intentions, and a pointless existence, by all means follow my lead. Success is not determined by the suit you wear, but by how you feel when you come home at the end of the day. If you accomplished something you are proud of, you have found your calling. Then give me a call, I know how to increase your operational efficiency.

© Brian Cooke Feb 2004

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