Not me too

I was 19 years old and in my first copywriting job.

I wanted the experience of handling bigger brands so was touting my portfolio around different London advertising agencies in search of feedback on my work and hopefully a job offer.

Agencies would normally see you even if they didn’t have a job vacancy just in case you turned out to be someone that they could use. If they thought you were brilliant they would create an opening for you by sacking someone else.  That’s how it worked.

On this memorable day I was being interviewed at an advertising agency in London. I had been told that there wasn’t an opening and that I was just being seen on spec. Nevertheless it was one of my first ever job interviews and I was understandably apprehensive.

I was ushered into a large conference room which smelt of polish.  The solid oak table was long, oval and gleaming.  I sat down nervously. The door opened and in came the creative director.

He was incredibly overweight with a huge paunch.  He sat down opposite me, breathing heavily from the exertion.

I showed him my book of work.  He was non-committal. They usually were.

He asked me very little about myself and barely glanced at my work.  He repeated again what I had already been told that there were no vacancies.

Then, all of a sudden he said, in what can only be described as a leering voice.

“I might just decide I want to take on a new copywriter because I like the look of her legs.”

Before I could respond, he then said, “that reminds me I haven’t yet seen what your legs look like.”

To my utter astonishment he then climbed down from his chair and on to the floor under the table.  He was wheezing heavily.

I was rooted to the spot.  I jammed my legs tightly together and held my breath.

I could hear him wheezing away under the table. Fortunately, he did not touch me. Then, breathing heavily, he hauled himself up and sat back down in his chair.

“We like our copywriters to have experienced life,” he said, with an emphasis on the word life.

I stood up to go.

At the door I turned.

“I’m soon going on holiday to Greece with my boyfriend,” I said to him.  “Do you think when I return I will have experienced life?”

“I do, my dear, I certainly do!” he replied cheerfully, giving me a playful slap on the bottom as I left the room.

What would today’s nineteen old have done I wonder?

Years later, working at another ad agency, I was told that one of the firm’s secretaries had been regularly having sex with a number of men in the company.  The sex took place on the board room table.  Eventually, someone informed the directors what had been happening.

As a result, they got rid of the board room table!




© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


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