Monday, May 14, 2012

Jobs from Hell


Reminiscing about my days in the porn industry in my most recent blog posts reminded me of a few of my less pleasant working experiences...so “less pleasant,” in fact, that I consider them my Jobs from Hell.

The first and most memorable of these was my first job in Los Angeles, with a small public relations firm in Beverly Hills, whose major clients were two land development projects. My boss apparently gained whatever success he had by strict adherence to one rule of business: his clients could do no wrong; his employees could do no right. All credit was his, all the work and any blame fell to his employees.

Paydays were Friday, and though the work day was supposed to end at 5 p.m., checks were almost never handed out before 5:45 on Friday evening. He had, perhaps not surprisingly, a rather high employee turnover rate. I did my best, many years later, to immortalize him in the character of C.C. Carlson in my book The Butcher's Son.

Of the two land development projects mentioned above, one was the then-new Lake Havasu City in Arizona. Every weekend, a Lockheed Constellation airliner would be chartered to fly prospective property buyers from Los Angeles to Lake Havasu City, as part of an absolutely free, “no obligation” package offered to those interested in getting in on the ground floor of this amazing new Eden. Actually, Lake Havasu City was at the time largely undeveloped desert, its only attraction being the much-touted London Bridge, which had been hauled stone by stone from England to span a largely man-made river. But it looked nice in the brochures. The few model homes available for inspection had front lawns comprised not of grass but of green-painted pebbles. But again, in a photograph, who could tell?

I never was quite sure what I was supposed to be doing there, other than to make sure nothing got too far out of hand, like a rebellion by prospective buyers who realized they'd been pretty badly mislead by the brochures.

The plane would leave at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and was scheduled to return at 8 p.m. that same evening. “Scheduled” was the operative word. The minute the plane landed, the prospective home/land owners were descended upon by a horde of sales people hired specifically for their ability to never take “no” for an answer. If 8 p.m. approached, and there was a prospective customer who had not yet signed on the dotted line, the plane would not leave the runway until they had. It was rare to return to L.A. much before midnight.

The second land-development project was located near Tehachapi, California, about a hundred miles northeast of Los Angeles. And while my frequent forays into the Arizona wilderness were looked on with something far less than pleasure, it was the Tehachapi development I look back on with curled toes. It was named “Golden Hills” only because, as the sun was going down over the parched, dried grass of the undulating, deadly dull landscape, the brown could be considered, by someone with a vivid imagination, as having a golden glow which lasted maybe five minutes before it was just brown again.

The developers had created a small, two or three acre man-made pond in the midst of the development, and had surrounded it with lush foliage which must have cost a fortune to maintain.

Our assignment was to produce an informational sales brochure, the cover of which was to feature a handsome couple on horseback in front of the pond which, shot from just the right angle, looked far, far larger than it actually was.

In preparation for the brochure, the boss demanded we find out everything we possibly could about the Tehachapi area and its history. After days of intensive research, we presented a thick stack of materials to him for his approval. He flipped through our several days’ work in fifteen seconds, looked at us scornfully and said: “I don’t see the average rainfall figures for 1947.” I beg your pardon?

Since we worked on salary, to be sure the boss got his money’s worth, he would inevitably come up with some way to have us work those Saturdays we weren't riding shotgun on the Havasu City flights. But at one point, in preparation for some ground-breaking ceremony or other, I was assigned to escort actress Pat Priest, who played the niece on the popular Adams Family tv show, to Tehachapi by private plane. It was the one and only pleasant experience I can remember of my entire term of employment in my first Job from Hell.

Out of space. As they say....To Be Continued.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 )


3 comments:

Thommie said...

Haha, bless you Dorien but that was a good one. How unsensitive us humans are? I'm actually laughing with the hole entry, while as you say that was pretty hellish to you. It is not my fault however, it is your writing that puts a smile on my face every time I read your posts ;) Will be waiting for the next part of "Jobs from Hell" already a big fan of it.
Thanks for sharing!

Dorien/Roger said...

Thank you, Thommie! Now, if I could just find another 10,000 or so more people like you.....

Kage Alan said...

You've really hit on something with these recent posts, D. Who can't relate to a job from hell? But the one thing we don't know is the history you're sharing. It's addictive.