I got to play grown-up today, the key word being “play” because it’s all an act. Sometimes I think I overestimate my awkwardness, or overstate how casually I tend to dress when I’m working at home and only going out to take the kids to school.
And then, I have a morning like today, when I put on my big girl clothes because I have a business meeting! I take the kids to school and every parent and teacher with whom I normally exchange a “good morning” or “cold today!” does a double take and asks me who died. By the third or fourth person, I’m seriously rethinking the theory that no one knows I’m still wearing my jammies if I’ve got my long coat on.
On the one hand, it’s great to hear a dozen “Wow, you look great today!”s before I go meet a client. On the other hand, it does tend to deflate one somewhat to realize that if EVERY SINGLE PERSON says that, it’s probably less about how nice I look TODAY and more about how CRAPPY I usually look.
So, yes, today I SHOWERED before leaving the house! And I fluffed my hair (ha! I love having short hair, where “extra attention” means spending 7 minutes on it instead of 5) and only stuck the mascara wand into my eyeball once and wore a blazer, the universal symbol for “you should totally give me money on account of how I look all businessy, like I really mean business.”
And of course I wore my new favorite boots, because we all know the power of a good pair of boots.
Anyway. God. Could I go on and on a little bit more about what I wore? My earrings were precisely half an inch long! My panties were purple! The point, really, is that I was ready to Play The Game. The We Will Size Each Other Up And Decide If We Trust Each Other game. I got the kids to school, came home again and assembled my various paraphenalia for the meeting, and headed out.
I got lost on the way there. Proof positive that even really nice leather is no substitute for a good set of directions.
But eventually I arrived and we started talking about potential work and past work and all of the stuff you typically go over at this sort of meeting. The client in question is someone I already know, and have worked with before (in a different capacity), but we’re each in different positions now. We’d like to work together again, perhaps.
And there I was, not quite as nervous as I’d be with someone I didn’t know, but nervous enough about making the right impression for this circumstance that I’m being overly animated and TALKING HIS EAR OFF because that’s just what I do. Only I am trying to limit my babbling to business-appropriate matters and make sure I actually answer the questions posed, etc.
Then it happened. He pushed back in his chair a bit and folded his hands across his middle, looking at me expectantly. “So tell me,” he says, “what else can you tell me about Mir?”
[Digression: Chickadee has started referring to herself in the third person for reasons known only to her, and there is little I find more annoying. If she walks up to me and says, “Chickadee would like some cookies,” I am inclined to respond with “Chickadee should stop referring to herself in the third person, then, because it tends to make me think she’s suffering from some sort of mental retardation that may have been caused by excessive cookie consumption.”]
Imagine me, faced with this question. “What else can you tell me about Mir?” I’m sitting there in my work clothes, trying to convince this person that he can trust me to perform well on a large contract, and my first instinct is to tell him that if I am sitting right across the table from him WE SHOULD NOT BE REFERRING TO ME IN THE THIRD PERSON. Unless, perhaps, we are suffering from that rare cookie-induced retardation.
My second inclination is to respond with, “Mir can write great copy for you, seeing as how your grasp of acceptable usage is a bit sketchy!”
Not to worry! I do bring my brain-to-mouth filter with me on all business interactions. It doesn’t always work, but I did manage to stifle those thoughts before they fell out of my mouth by accident.
So what I felt he needed to know about Mir was more or less limited to the matter at hand; I talked about the sort of work I enjoy, my methods for tackling issues, blah blah blah hiiiiiiiiire meeeeeeeeeeee. He listened and nodded and I felt I’d made it through that particular challenge.
Not two minutes later, he asked me the SAME question AGAIN. The repetition made it clear that he was looking for something MORE. Something beyond the stock answers. I branched out a bit, this time. Now I was talking about basic character traits, trying to balance “honest disclosure” with “blurting out inappropriate things.” If you know me at all, you know how difficult this is for me. Again, I thought I’d navigated through fairly well.
We talked for about five more minutes, and AGAIN came that infernal question. My mind was racing. WHAT does a person want when he asks you THREE TIMES what he “needs to know” about you? I was out of appropriate material, and starting to panic, to boot. I didn’t know what he was hoping to evoke. My script didn’t cover this.
“Well…” I was stalling for time. I realized I was trapped. “I can juggle. I can walk on stilts!” Yes, it’s true; and most people don’t realize that you have a much greater chance of landing a copywriting contract if you can perform stupid circus tricks.
I still don’t know what he was hoping to get out of me, but after that he laughed and stopped asking.
Next time I’m just going to wear one of those “HELLO MY NAME IS __________” tags and fill in the blank with DORK. It’ll probably save time.