Back to work

·4 min read

I know someone who works in advertising, and on his first week on the job, a more seasoned copywriter took him aside to give him advice. They were both on their way to the creative director's office to pitch him their competing ideas for a new campaign.

“You’re new here so I’ll give you some advice,” the older copywriter said. “When you pitch your stuff to the big guy, don’t put on a big razzle-dazzle. Don't make it a big dramatic thing. Jim hates that. Hates it. Just go in there, take your copy, put it on his desk, and let him read it. Don’t say a word.”

So my friend goes into the office with his copy, walks up to the creative director’s desk, gently puts it down in front of him, and waits.

The creative director looks baffled and irritated. He picks up the copy and gives it a desultory read. Then he puts it aside and turns to the more seasoned copywriter.

“What have you got?” he asks.

“Well, Jim,” says the older copywriter, “here's what I've got.”

And immediately, he springs to life. He bends into a half-crouch and puts his hands up in jazz-hands style. He starts speaking in an urgent, excited whisper.

“Fade in. A golden morning. The dew-flecked wheat tosses and waves in the gentle breeze. And then — what’s that? A simple melody on the piano. It’s warm, like the morning sunlight. Into frame, a glistening silver Greyhound bus. A handsome boy in an Army uniform watches intently out of the window. A smiling bus driver. An old lady, knitting, gives the boy a wink. And the bus pulls up to a bright red and white diner. He steps out. The piano melody becomes warmer, softer. And there she is. His girl. They embrace. The other passengers watch them, smiling, cheering. The bus pulls away.”

The older copywriter’s voice gets thickly emotional.

“Greyhound,” he rasps, voice catching slightly. “Because it’s good to be home.”

You know how this turns out, right? The seasoned copywriter gets the raise, and my friend learns a valuable lesson. Two, actually.

The first is, whenever possible, do not go first. The second is, every single office is a nest of vipers, and when someone pulls you aside to offer some advice, think very carefully before you take it.

For the past 18 months, we’ve all been working at home, shuffling around in our dirty jeans (and sometimes not even those), and limiting our interactions with real, live co-workers to short video bursts. Our colleagues were safely locked into on-screen squares, similar to the opening credits of The Brady Bunch. We could mute them, re-size them, tuck them away into corners of our desktops. We could disappear behind our profile pictures, pretend to have lost a connection, claim to have the wrong login information.

It’s all over now, thanks to Big Pharma and Operation Warp Speed. We’re all going back to work, which means we all need to remember that the office is a very bad place filled with dangerous people.

Studies show that employees who work from home have a harder time getting raises and promotions. This makes sense because the home-based worker is unable to engage in subtle acts of sabotage. Working from home, locked away on a computer screen, you can’t make the tiny undermining comments to the boss while you both wait to use the Keurig. You can’t time your arrivals and exits to create the impression of tireless industry. You can’t read over a colleague’s shoulder or upside-down across from your boss at his desk. You can’t stand on a toilet in the restroom and trick your office enemies into thinking they’re alone and can speak freely.

The near-miraculous development and manufacturing of several effective vaccines against COVID-19 have been rousing endorsements of both the free-market healthcare industry and entrepreneurship in general. They have freed us from a mask-wearing homebound existence.

But let’s face it: We all got soft. Time to take off the masks, sharpen the knives, and get back to work.

Rob Long is a television writer and producer and the co-founder of

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Tags: Life, humor, Work, Coronavirus

Original Author: Rob Long

Original Location: Back to work