The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Monday, 28 May 2007

The Packaging Game

For way too long I sold packaging and displays. Don't get me wrong - the work, in theory, was good and there was a time that I actually enjoyed my job. Change comes and more often than not it is a good thing. In the case of my former company change was not good.

I won't actually name my former employer but they are saddled with crippling debt acquired through rapid acquisitions, mergers and buyouts. We're talking third world banana republic debt here. Now there are just about a thousand creative and effective ways to service and eliminate debt without destroying the heart and soul of the company. Like a banana republic, my company decided to forgo creativity and bleed people.

The yes-men, toadies and sycophants are still there and if you are patient enough to navigate the poorly automated phone system you can leave a message for one of them that will likely go unreturned.

There are others still there, too. Good, decent people who might be too scared to move on, too comfortable to test the waters (must admit, 'til the axe fell I was one of these), too close to retirement to be bothered or just plain caught in the need to earn a mortgage payment with the belief that any job is a good job.

Anyone want some more sour grapes?

My job as a Specialty Graphics Account Executive entailed meeting with a variety of manufacturers (anything from beer, to batteries to petfood to boardgames) and determining their need for good lookin' boxes and displays.

The best part of the job was visiting different industries to see how stuff is made. Look at your disposable paper coffee cup. Ever wonder how they put that thing together? Of course not, but if you ever get the chance visit a paper cup factory and see how it's done. Shrink film - fascinating stuff. Petfood? Better have a strong stomach, but well worth the visit to see the tiny cans rattle by at just shy of the speed of light.

I got to meet new people every day from different departments of dozens of different companies. All of them interesting. Each with their own stories.

It was a fairly entrepreneurial job and should have been. I used to set my own hours - had a company car and other various perks that come with a job in sales. I started with excellent support staff. As the company debt grew and the need to service it became difficult the support required for me to do my job effectively was eroded as people were "restructured" out of corporate existence. As people were cut they were replaced with a bureaucratic nightmare of reporting and paperwork to keep the creditors happy. I understand the need for accurate reporting but needless reports and useless busy-work will choke a business to death as surely nepotism and corruption.

Did I just say nepotism and corruption? Thank god I didn't suggest that some people were getting promotions because they were sleeping with people in authority.

I am sure to draw upon my experiences of my former workplace as I grow my writing career. I've already done so with a short story entitled The Long Ride Home. It's a little story about the day I was fired and the hour and a half taxi ride from my office to my house. It has been entered in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. I'll let you know how it goes.

Anyway, all of that is the past. It's what's happening now that's important and now I need to get on with some writing...

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