I have got to start moving away from working promos.
Sounds funny coming from the person who said, “I’ll pass out one million free pairs of sunglasses before I fetch one more saucer of ranch dressing for international tourists – or wait another table in general.
The side hustle among side hustles has gotten old. The gig that I just worked, a popular marathon for women, gave me night terrors about my future. Dreams where I woke up in the body of a sixty year old woman and ate old cheese on toast while I scoured the darkest regions of Craigslist for staffing companies who would hire an old lady with no traditional job experience. Think of the stereotypical elderly Vegas cocktail waitress; with deeply ingrained wrinkles, a raspy voice, and a disposition that makes you drink your watered down gin and tonic and appreciate your retail job that much more. I was weathered, alone, and completely unfit to do anything except show up to a random address and beg strangers to take free key chains. These are the night terrors of a college graduate who makes a living telling people how walk in a line. (FYI: It’s always to the right.)
Without going into too much detail, I worked back to back events in San Francisco this past week and a half. One was fantastic and well run, with the sweetest women in the world handling the staffing coordination. The other was a prime example of why “Those who can’t do … teach,” has become, “Those who can’t do anything … promo.”
It got to the point where I was on the verge of losing my voice to a combination of screaming and fending off a sinus infection. In my Sudafed fueled stupor, I observed the oblivious crowd before me and watched in horror as they all blended together into a colorful, amorphous blob.
I turned and looked over at “Mr. Pep-Guy,” a promo lifer near the entrance, jumping up and down and screaming into the air like a silverback guerrilla, high fiving everyone who tried to pass him. If they didn’t want to high five him, then he found a way to high five them anyway. He had been doing this for eleven hours. He was pissing me off with his blind enthusiasm and he was pissing off consumers because he was screaming at them to get in line without telling them what they were getting into line for.
“You really should tell them to make sure they have the correct buttons to scan,” I said, trying to push him without being overly condescending.
“Yeah yeah I hear you, but the agency said to get them pumped and to make sure they see as much of the event as we can! Gotta funnel ‘em in, funnel ‘em in!”
He was the worst kind of idiot: if the boss said dance, he’d dance and be the best. If the boss said yell, he’d yell and be the loudest. If the boss said, “Now make every single one of them get on their knees and wait as you make your way down the line and shoot them execution style,” he’d do it and sparkle until the very last one.
I turned my gaze back to the crowd, now doubled in size, and to the promo worker at the other line who was literally standing there and swinging their arms in front of the entrance, causing a huge traffic obstruction in the process.
“Oh my god,” I whispered, “I am surrounded by morons.”
It’s easy to become jaded over the way I make the majority of my money.
“My brain is turning to rot,” I say. I have become so paranoid about my mind. I suffered a head injury a couple of years ago and certain things haven’t been the same. Factor in a job that rarely requires any kind of critical thinking skills and constantly surrounds you with people who are absolutely fine with that and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a train wreck.
However. That is a very negative way to look at it. That’s a depressed way of looking at it.
A sane person sees promo work as a means to an end. Promo work is what keeps me out of restaurants and bars. Promo work is how I have met some truly awesome people and a great connection or two. Promo work pays the bills. Promo work makes sure that Taxi cat gets fed. Promo work is the reason that I have a limited edition Conan O’brien Celebri-duck.
True, my venture in San Francisco ended on a sour note. However, I must remind myself that I am fortunate to be able to make ends meet by doing this.
Also let’s be honest – I do have a morbid fascination with collecting Sedaris-esque material about my jobs and my life. I also enjoy coming up with new and interesting ways to describe the world’s worst.
What about you? Do you have a day job or a side hustle that you fear might rot your brain?