Thursday, January 10, 2008

sliding doors

The place where I work had a company-wide meeting this morning in which several promotions were announced from a stage. One of the people being promoted was a woman I've gone up against several times over the years. We're about the same age. We used to be freelance writers on the same account. After I turned down a staff position, she slid into it and has spent the past eight years rising through ranks.

Today, she was promoted again. As I watched her from my crappy seat in the crowd (behind a group assistant with really big hair) I wondered if my staying freelance was worth it. I fancy I'm at least as good, if not better than she is and if I'd gone staff,  that might be me up on stage in a trendy dress and serious jewelry glittering under lights, graciously acknowledging applause from (envious) colleagues.

She has two kids years younger than mine and I wonder about what her title has cost her: the missed dinners and bedtimes, school events attended by cell phone, rare sightings of her kids in golden afternoon light. (We chat in the ladies.) She has good help and a participatory husband and seems harried but happy with the choices she's made. But what about when the kids go to college? Will she wish she'd made different decisions?

Do I?

2 comments:

Toad said...

I think you made the right decision.
Ours is not an easy business to be in if you want to be a parent -- too many childless, spouseless young people (especially in NYC) and too many demands on your time.

Do you think she's really made that much more money than you? Agencies pay so little these days, you're probably not far behind her, if at all.

One of the downsides of freelancing is that you can feel totally outside the loop and like a permanent guest, rather than a part of the crew. It's particularly frustrating when, as in this case, the people on staff are people you know just aren't all that good.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

I assume my day rate is no less than hers, Toad, but part of my choice to go freelance was to not work every day. I tended to work permalance gigs then take off for a while which allowed me to travel with kids during summer or be a class mom. I'd guess, over the years she's pulled in a lot more than I have. But it wasn't the loss of lucre that struck me at that moment--it was your second (astute) observation: no matter how many times you get gigs in the same shop, being freelance there means you're a perpetual outsider, disqualified from the game.