Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Where I work you need a magnetized photo keycard card to get in. Most people I work with wear the card on a lanyard around their necks, something I thought I would never do until getting locked out of my floor a few times when no one else was around and schlepping down thirty floors to security in the lobby. Now, I ride the subway every morning with my ID flopping against my front, like a school kid on a field trip. Some people clip their cards to their belts. Others slip it into the back pocket of jeans and if the jeans are tight enough, never take it out, just slam their butts against the security box on the wall, a startling practice that mystified me at first.

My ID photo is recent, taken this fall when I started, but most photos date back a few years--sometimes five or ten. (This place is known for its retention factor.) So I receive disconcerting reminders throughout the day of how this business can age you. My partner is a parent of two with a practical mom haircut, but in her photo, she’s carefree and childless, with long curls and bangs. A disgruntled middle-aged art director leans across my desk and an image of his younger, happier self swings into view: full head of hair, no dark circles under his eyes, a smile exuding optimism only a new job can bring. (Mazel tov, Jane.)


Anonymous said...

We used to have those at my old agency, only without the picture. Instead pictures were helpfully posted online so you could look up someone and see their picture if A) you didn't know them and had a meeting with them (the place was pretty big) or B) you wanted to see if they really were the office hottie back when the agency was founded.

And you are right, this business really ages you.

It's sort of like a bad relationship - the good times are good enough to get me through the bad times and when I think about my job I think it's really sexy and don't want to give it up.

Anonymous said...

we had the picture ID cards at the Big Agency. They gave us these little clips to clip them onto pants with an extending thingy so you didn't have to unclip it. I had to leave the card behind .... you know in case I wanted to steal secrets!

Alan Wolk said...

The last bunch of shops I've been at had the picture ID thing, though being a guy, I can keep them in my wallet and flash the whole wallet at the entry device.

Ogilvy had the "see their picture online" feature, which was key when you had a meeting and wanted to try and remember who was who. They also had the most tenacious security guards in the business: they'd examine your photo ID every morning as you walked in as if we were going to work on the Manhattan Project or somesuch.