Friday, November 30, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada

I had seen this film before on a plane and loved it. It was on last night, so you can imagine my excitement as I settled down with my huge bowl of soup and pile of yarn in front of the television. Watching it the second time made me realize how close to home it is on the subject of first jobs. When I first moved to New York I had a job as assistant graphic designer in a top advertising firm. It was a small company, but we handled many of those ads you see in fashion magazines. I had NO idea what I was getting into, and still have no idea why they hired me. I knew nothing about fashion or advertising, or how to deal with the higher ups...I still cringe when I recall the day I asked the Big Boss where the copy machine was. He looked at me as if I were a cockroach in his path, and walked away. I was totally lost and had no one to explain anything to me. The creative director would praise me one day and ask the next if I wanted to be a secretary because, "the way I flung my campaign on his desk" wasn't how a creative worker would present it. He was probably right...I was in way over my head. I would complain to my co-workers about him and they would agree, but then add "But he's such a genius". A genius? He created images to sell clothes for thousands of dollars! (This was how I thought back then... much like the main character in the film, Andy, when asked which belt she liked better). My poor boyfriend at the time had to deal with my complaints one night, and my starry eyes the next if the creative director had given me positive feedback for my work. It took over my life. I would stay late because I was scared HE'd need something after I had gone; I had enough nervous stomach pains walking to the office, that his morning anger was not something I was willing to contend with. Then one day I got sick. I was sick for about a week and a half. I realised that this job was not helping, I was miserable. I cried at work more often than not, my friends and family wondered why I was still working there. I didn't want to give up, I didn't want to leave and then regret my choice; many (tougher) people would have loved to have this job. In the end, unlike Andy, I couldn't stand up to him, or be the worker he wanted, so I quit. It was a great feeling. There were no regrets. Even during my months of unemployment, I never would have prefered to be back in that office. After a while, I got my dream job, and was so surprised that a boss could be compassionate, good-humored, a friend even. I never heard from anyone at that first job ever again, the last I read about my boss was in W magazine explaining how he kindly comforted Kate Moss after her cocaine incident. I would love to say that the job made me stronger, or a better person... but I'm not sure it did. If I had to take the job now, I would do everything differently. I'm older and wiser now, I was too young and inexperienced for it at the time. Who knows, maybe if I stayed I would have come into my own and finally felt comfortable, but I would probably be a different person now. I've realized it's more important to be happy than have a job that many people 'would kill for'.


konrad said...

yeah, I remember that time...
That guy was a real neener.