Saturday, April 19, 2008

advertising isn't the only business that turns you into a groveling sycophant

As you may have intuited from last posts, I'm between gigs right now but that doesn't mean I can't blog about other people's jobs. For a change of pace, here's an inside look into another business entirely: the genteel world of development--code word for extracting maximum lucre from high rolling prospects.

My friend works in the development office of a private school which means her job is to rustle up big bucks from donors, mostly alums. Every year, the school throws a big fundraising benefit (auction, dance party, you know the drill) and hers was last night, at some fancy club. The event is billed as open to all parents, but what it's really designed for is to rake in the gorillas--which is how big donors are described in her business. The night of the party, one of the gorillas called to say she was bailing and sending her daughter instead (though the event was adults-only), along with three of her daughter's friends--all 16 years old. (Thanks, M, for this enlightening email.)
One cannot say no, apparently, to a board member to is teed up for a 7-figure gift. Later, even though the kiddos appeared to be having a good time, a cell phone was handed to me and it was the mom calling to register her "extreme disappointment" because her daughter was "seated in Siberia at a table with a bunch of losers. My daughter is heart broken, and you have taken advantage of me because I'm not there!"

I did not, of course, explain that the reason that the girls were moved to "Siberia" - a table right next to mine, actually, was because 2 of the young guests had been counseled out of our school--for doing drugs at a school sporting event. Their table was changed because yours truly thought the girls MIGHT feel a little awkward being seated at a table with "the booter."

Meanwhile, a blind eye was being cast in the ladies where, apparently, great mischief of the snowy kind was taking place.

To the mom's credit, her personal assistant rang yours truly at 8:03 a.m. on Monday morning to make good on her daughter's bidding and a whipping $25K+. One has to admire of course I said, Please this and that... thank you so much .... so helpful and again our apologies .... da, da, da.

About 20 minutes after this groveling, my phone rings again. It's the personal assistant, "Oh, by the way. I'm glad you're available. I have a statement that I'd like to read to you from [Gorilla.]

"I do not accept your apology. I think you are the rudest person I've ever met. I think you and the entire office there are the rudest people on the planet. I don't know how you can look at yourself in the mirror. Don't ever ask me for anything again."

Me: Thank you so much for calling! I understand her feelings, and again, our apologies."

I'm only sorry I didn't ask them to fax this thing.
Ugh. Give me a lame brief and a stupid, crazy client any day.

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