|haiku hell | by abby reynolds|
The cursor blinks as I look at the nine programs running on my Windows XP toolbar. None of which are Excel, which has, as of late, become my personal hell. I’ve got four IMs running, full of whiny, complaining drabble to my similarly waywar d-feeling friends; Outlook (the sole purpose of which, I have decided, is to click “Send/Receive” with a gusto reserved for a four-course meal); some ridiculous Oracle calendar program that (1) crashes every five minutes and (2) is the staunch reminder that I do, in fact, have meetings to attend; one IE Browser running, set to my company’s website, of course; and this lovely email where I begin the diatribe of my occupation, also known as “Why I Really Wish I Was a Full-Time Freelancer.”
My friends call me a fool. You see, I work for what may just be the best company in the world (i.e., Google). I agree entirely—the company, without fail, is nothing if not amazing. A true dot-com in the barren dot-com-less land of late. Yet my job, “Creative Maximizer,” though sought after across the country as the hot job for writers, requires only the main talent of writing ads, which are basically jazzed-up haikus. With the character limits and strict editorial guidelines, I find myself swimming in a sea of “Buy Now!,” “Learn More” and “Get Info Here.” Creative it is not.
Many of us Maximizers heeded the call of the ad as a glorious beckoning from that great big dot-com in the sky. “Google!” we proclaimed. “Glory be to God.” We made it through the 11 interviews, chatting with other Googlers (a term, once hired, we’ve learned to use with fervor and frequency) about the interactive arena, about our backgrounds, about what it’s like to work 10-hour days while housebreaking a puppy. After much waiting, much anticipation, much praying to anyone and everyone to grant us this opportunity, oh wonderful HR administrator, we landed it. Hallelujah!
Somewhat disillusioned, we found not the land of buoyant, colorful language that we so longed for. Instead of the blank MS Word documents we expected, we found ourselves swimming in a torpid sea of Excel spreadsheets. Instead of fabulous hyperbole and the poignant frustration of choosing the perfect word, we found ourselves in a generic ad-copy shop, with spartan character limits to boot.
Methodically, our days begin and end with keywords, often nonsensical ones at that. Instead of “New York Hotels,” we find “York Hotels New,” and don’t you think for one second that it’s not our job to correct these. Each and every one of the often 10,000-plus of these. It’s a wonder I can write more than three words at a time without ending every sentence in “Shop Now!” When I realized that I was dreaming of spreadsheets, thinking that there were keywords in between my sleeping boyfriend and I, I acknowledged that I may, in fact, have hit rock bottom.
Yet this is Google. GOOGLE!, I r epeat. The land of milk and honey; or, more accurately, of limitless Odwalla bars and Snapple. The people are fabulous, the pay is above respectable and I’ve become quite attached to the lava lamp on my desk. I dare not complain to my number-crunching, Internet-surfing friends, especially since their clicks on the ads I write pay my bills. Surf away, I say, and thus return to the mind-numbing land o’ Excel.
So with my creativity nicely locked away in a cabinet in some Hoboken train station, I find myself back in the land of short words, irritating clients and blinking cursors, where:
Sit and Write,