09 October 2008

How to Interpret a Job Ad

You'll be making under $6 an hour.

You're paid under $6 an hour; we'll be bankrupt in a year.

There's no chance in hell we'll be the next Microsoft.

Once it's shared among the brass, you get what's left.

We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.

We have no time to train you. (and/or)
Please introduce yourself to your co-workers.

Inc. Magazine mentioned us in an article a few years ago.

The person who had this job gave notice a month ago. We're just now
running the ad.

We're can't supply you with leads. (and/or)
There's no base salary to speak of. (and/or)
You'll wait 30 days for your first commission check.

Don't expect management to answer questions

After 90 days, you can join our HMO, which has a $500 deductible and
a $35 co-pay.
The Future of Advertising
by Joe Lavin --

We are now at the dawn of a new information age, and as you all know
this means one thing. More damn commercials. Yes, the 21st Century
(Sponsored in part by McDonald's. Have you had your break today?) is
almost here, and as we get ready for it, we will no doubt be pummeled by
more and more advertising.

I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. I don't really hate advertising.
Usually, it's harmless, and if I don't like it, I can just ignore it. But the
future of advertising is starting to scare me.

A while back, there was a Frontline documentary on PBS about
advertising in the information age. It was quite fascinating, and I was
able to learn many things, including (1) the fact that advertisers are now
able to track many of your purchases, (2) the fact that advertisers can
use this information to target advertising to you specifically, and (3) the
fact that Holy @#$$! I was watching PBS. Wow! There really must have
been nothing good on TV.

George Orwell apparently had it wrong. Big Brother is not the
government. He's an advertising agency, and sometime around 2057
when the President of Time Warner Disney AT&T Microsoft is elected
to become the President of the United States as well, Big Brother and the
government will merge as one.

Well, maybe I'm being a tad paranoid about the future. (The Future!
Sponsored in part by Microsoft. Where do you want to go today? . . .
Oh, actually, you can't go there. You're going here instead.) But I can't
help being paranoid. Actually, the Frontline reporter was even more
paranoid than I. At one point, he asked a man from Bell Atlantic about all

"So, basically, you can track any purchase I make with this new


"So, in other words, if last year I were to have bought an especially
embarrassing product --"

"You mean like that Nasty Nympho Action video you bought August

"Um, that was a hypothetical question."

"Oh, right sorry. . . . Good flick, though. Much better than that bondage
video you rented last weekend."

"Um, could we maybe go to a commercial or something?"

"This is PBS. You don't have any."


Well, I paraphrase slightly, but the host was clearly troubled by the
implications of the new technology. Basically, any transaction you make
without cash has the potential to be tracked by someone somewhere.
Whereas advertisers now attempt to target people of a specific age
group or income bracket, in the future they will be increasingly able to
target you. Just you.

Companies already do this, of course. That's the whole theory behind
direct mail marketing -- not to mention all those supermarket discount
cards that are suddenly so prevalent. I once heard an interview with a
man who wrote a book about direct mail marketing. (If I were a real
journalist, this is where I would, like, tell you the name of the book or
something.) This author tracked his junk mail for a year. He even created
an imaginary pregnant woman and ordered maternity clothing for her.
Nine months later, the imaginary woman received complimentary diapers
in the mail from another company. The advertisers of the world are
watching, and in the future they will only get better.

This sounds worse than it really is. You don't have to let the powers that
be know about all your purchases, but it will no doubt become
increasingly more difficult not to play along. In the future, we will all
have to face a battle between our privacy and convenience. I suspect I
will probably choose convenience. Like everyone, I do have my
occasional indiscretions, but I really can't imagine anyone bored enough
to care about what I'm doing. I wish I led a scandalous life, but I simply

Also, I have a terrible confession to make. I rather like junk mail. If it's
boring, I just throw it away, and occasionally, such as the time when the
previous occupant was receiving a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog,
junk mail can be a fine wondrous thing.

It can also be fun. I routinely get mail addressed to The Joe Lavin
Foundation, because that's what I usually write when asked for my
company. Once, I was especially bored and wrote "Omnipotent One" for
my Title. Sure enough, a few months later, I received an advertisement
addressed to:

Joe Lavin
Omnipotent One
The Joe Lavin Foundation

Next time, I'm thinking of writing "International Love Machine" as my
title. I can't wait to read the mail I get.
Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin


Ways to amuse yourself during a business trip

On the plane:

1. Carry a toilet aboard the plane. Tell the flight crew that you have to
carry it aboard with you. Offer to sit on it during the flight.

2. Select a flight attendant. Every time she walks by, make a face as
though something smells really bad.

3. Ring your call button. When the flight attendant responds, speak in
gibberish. Become more agitated and animated as she becomes more
frustrated in her attempts to understand you.

4. When the captain announces "if there's anything we can do to make your
flight more comfortable...." ring and ask that the row of seats in front
of you be removed.

5. After the safety presentation, when they tell you that your flight
attendant will be coming by to answer any questions you might have, take
them up on the offer. Ask questions that no one can answer, like what you
say to God when He sneezes. Even better, act as though you have a short
attention span and ask them to repeat parts of it.

6. Ask if you can put on your oxygen mask now, just in case.

7. Take the airline magazine and provide your own captions for the
pictures and add your own footnotes to the articles. Be as creative and
vulgar as possible. At the end of the flight, leave the magazine on board
for the next person.

8. If you're seated in the exit row on a crowded airplane, as you're
taxiing out to the runway, ring your call button and tell the flight
attendant that you have an indiscernable condition that would prevent you
from performing the activities listed on the safety card, and would like to
be reseated.

(WARNING: Don't do this on New York-bound flights).

9. If you are sitting next to a particularly chatty person, the following
are good ways to shut them up:

* pull out a pornographic magazine and make graphic comments about the
* as soon as it is practical, take out a notebook and pen and begin to
write obscenities and satanic slogans and draw pentagrams and other
satanic objects. This is especially effective if you use a very smelly
magic marker.
* fall asleep with your head on their shoulder.
* assume the lotus position and begin to chant.

At the hotel:

1. Take the pens out of the room and replace them with pens from another
hotel chain.

2. If you are placed in a room where there are two beds, and one of the
bed has been turned down, stack all of your luggage and dirty clothes on
that bed and sleep in the other. If there's only one bed, make it look as
if you've slept on the foldaway bed, sofa, chair or on the floor.

3. Leave your "do not disturb" sign on the room all the time, even when
you've gone out for the day.

4. Write notes to the maid in soap on the mirror in the bathroom.
At the restaurant:

1. If the hostess asks you "smoking or non-smoking?" tell her you don't
care. If she insists, ask for one of each.

2. Bring your own food.

3. At some point during the meal, ask your server for another knife. Tell
them "this one's so dull, you couldn't cut a fart with it."

4. Move the things on the table around as if they were chess pieces. If
the server tries to take something off the table, slap their hand and tell
them "THAT'S IN PLAY!"

5. If the restaurant in your hotel is particularly fancy, come down to
dinner in your jeans and t-shirt. If they tell you that the restaurant
requires a coat and tie, go back to your room and return wearing a jacket,
tie and boxer shorts.