Speak Quietly – I’m Nursing a Colossal Headache.
After a reader read my rant last week, “R U Networking or NOTworking,” he sagely challenged me to try a day of face-to-face marketing. (For those of you who cannot recall what that is, it involves getting out of your chair.) Moron that I am, I accepted his challenge and headed out onto the mean streets of Los Angeles to solicit clients. This is the bizarre story I barely lived to tell:
8:00 am: I pop out of bed. (That’s early for us showbiz types.) After donning my fake designer duds I head out the door of my Hansel-and-Gretel-size overpriced house, jump into my leased Mercedes, wave to my stoned neighbor, try to back over a slow-moving kid (hey – this is L.A., not Iowa – speed or bleed!), and serpentine down Laurel Canyon with throngs of other Los Angelinos who feel that driving should never distract them from texting. Twenty minutes later, I finally arrive at Rite-Aid Drugs, which is practically walking distance to my house.
9:30 am: I run into Rite-Aid to grab a few of the props I will need for marketing: 1. Red Bull. (I do not drink caffeine because my synapses are already challenged, but I must have it visible in my car in order to look cool.) 2. Gourmet dog cookies and 3. Pepper Spray, which the somnolent salesclerk insists they don’t sell. When I tell her I am about to embark on direct marketing and ask if the store sells firearms, she threatens to call the manager. I slip out the door before the manager/actor/bartender/waiter can find me and assault me with a head shot.
Let The Games Begin!
9:45 am: Outside the store a group of people have congregated. With utmost confidence, I approach the group and hand out my business cards, offering to price their homes or answer any questions they may have, as though I am the Oracle of Re-fi. One guy asks me if I will marry him and have his demon spawn, and another turns his back on me and pees on a nearby newspaper stand. (Apparently my pitch needs polishing.) After an old lady with a shopping cart full of broken dolls offers me a toke off her joint, I conclude that this is not my target audience and move on, making a mental note to purchase a bean bag gun.
10:00 am: I walk next door to the Griddle, a popular Hollywood hang for the industry folks. (Yes I would have driven the 50 yards to live up to the stereotype, but in this town, a parking spot is harder to get than a great review.) I chat it up with a friendly crowd who are all waiting for tables. Clever person that I am, I offer their dogs cookies whenever a furry head pops out of a gazillion dollar purse. Eventually I come out of the closet and announce that I can satisfy all their real estate needs 24-7. That’s right, my new BFFs, I am a virtual CNN of Real Estate!
All of a sudden, the group collectively breaks into riotous laughter. A few actually bend over, grasp their sides and guffaw. Noticing my baffled expression, someone in the crowd finally wheezes, “We’re writers and actors – mostly unemployed. We can’t afford s__t!”
“But your expensive dogs…and your Tag Heuer watches…,” I weakly protest.
“We’re dog walkers, lady, and the watches are swag from luxury parties where we host or tend bar…”
“But, but…the Prada bags…”
“Gorgeous, huh?” one coiffed guy squeals, “Isn’t mine divine? I may be unemployed, but I look HOT. Image is everything,” he intones, as though it’s a moral imperative.
Feeling a bit defeated, I slink away with my Ebay bag and my unwanted business cards, still determined to find my audience.
Fools Rush In
10:30 am: The HUB (Hollywood Unemployment Brigade) continues to laugh as I crawl into my car, which is now covered in crow crapple, and drive away. I pop a can of Red Bull and chug the evil beverage as I drive past them, just to let them know I’m hipper than I seem.
I make my way to the Santa Monica Freeway and head for a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, confident that I will find my target group. While speeding along the freeway at a neck breaking 10 miles an hour, I manage to get two dates, one donut tossed through my window, and a Lane Four Nap.
12:00 pm: I arrive at the Sheraton refreshed and ready to hustle. By now my lips are stuck to my teeth as a result of a 7.5 Richter Scale Red Bull rush, and several people are moving back from me to keep a safe distance. I am sure I hear someone call me, “Sybil,” as I inadvertently do my impersonation of Jim Carrey in The Mask. With one perfectly manicured thumbnail, I manage to peel my lips off my teeth and forge on.
After a quick meet and greet, we all sit down to a “healthy” luncheon that actually scares me… I’m told that the red mass on my plate is a beet, tofu and egg white quiche, but I am convinced the chef accidentally severed an appendage and bled into the egg whites. After biting down into what has to be a finger, I push aside my swill and get down to business.
How to Close a Deal With Minimal Blood Shed
I am proud as I press hands and put a personal face on my business plan, as opposed to social networking from my reclusive inner sanctum. I am amazed at the flurry of cards being tossed into the center of the table like chips in a high stakes poker game. There are cards with color, embossing, gold edging, photos, corners burned with a match for effect (seriously), and even one with a pop-up cake. (Mine is a simple little tri-fold, four color number with a hologram of me holding a sign that says I’ll Hustle My Bustle For Your Biz. If you press the bubble next to my sparkling teeth, the card plays Hooray for Hollywood! You may have noticed that I am never subtle.)
The girl across the table reads my card and suddenly stiffens. Her eyeballs dilate as her body screams, “OMG – ANOTHER AGENT!” Several more bodies at the table stiffen in rapid succession. Only one man, a judge, seems unfazed. All eyes turn to the hapless judge in hunger. He clutches his heart, shrinks in his chair, and prepares for the assault. I know it’s going to be a pissing contest that no one will win. A scarred veteran of Agent Wrestling, I forfeit the game. As I prepare to leave, Short Sale Sally, who is sitting next to me, shoves me aside and practically squeals at the thought of one less jackal on the judge’s carcass.
“Here, you can have my quiche,” I say as I leave, “And I am giving you the finger, too.”
Mea Culpa, I Havta Gulpa
4:33 pm: After another road trip home that is so long it practically requires an airdrop food mission, I drag my sorry self through the door. There, in peaceful Laurel Canyon, I kick off my shoes, change into my refugee clothing, and fire up my computer to wait for my social networking friends to check in. Gleefully, I talk to a thousand people via Twitter, Facebook and Agent Genius, and no one threatens to pee on my leg.
Slowly, carefully, I eat most of my words about the evils of social networking and admit to my war torn self that I simply must find a happy medium between FTF and KTK before I am KIA.
6:42 pm: My fingers mechanically type the following phrase: Mea Culpa, Ima Dopa.