When I'm not drawing stupid pictures or writing rambling blog posts or exposing violators of the "Dude, It's Rude" policy on my daily train commute, I work as a graphic designer at a large chain of bakeries*. They have locations up and down the East Coast and recently expanded to the Midwest. My company employs many supporting staff in addition to the 400+ bakers that are the lifeblood of the business. After all, where would a bakery be without experts in flour and mixing and frosting?
|I don't work here.|
One of the responsibilities in my job, in addition to producing long, wordy informational sheets detailing cake ingredients and regular newsletters informing customers of breaking news in the world of baking, is creating advertising for various publications. These ads are requested through a section of the company's intranet, on a page plainly labeled, "Advertising." Here, a selection of ad layouts is displayed. Once the appropriate design is chosen, a small form is filled out with pertinent information for getting the ad created (size, color limitations, recipients contact information, as well as the identity of the requester) and submitted. I, then, receive an automatically-generated email with the request. Shortly afterwards, using a set of previously prepared templates, I create the ad to the submitted specifications and send it off to the requester for review and eventual approval. Once approved, I send the completed, camera-ready ad to the publication and we are done. Simple? You'd be surprised.
Bakers are interesting people. They seem to believe that baking is the most important profession on earth. The also seem to believe that bakers possess a far superior intelligence than, say, police officers or barbers or postal workers or artists, for that matter. Somehow, working with hot ovens and proofing boxes makes them experts in all professions, regardless of any special training or years of experience other vocations may require.
Recently, I received an indirect request from two bakers, via an email chain, on which I was copied. At no time was I actually addressed in the course of the correspondence. I was merely referenced and the fact that an ad was needed was discussed. Surmising that no official ad request was going to be made, I took it upon myself to be proactive and create an ad. Through an email attachment that I discovered on the third "go-round," I was able to find a spec sheet from the organization. The ad in question was for a small theater presenting their annual program of classical music. I chose an appropriate layout — featuring a photo of an orchestra — and prepared an ad to send to these two bakers for review.
I finished the ad, created a PDF (which is standard procedure) and sent it off, along with my regular accompanying email copy:
"Attached please find a PDF of the ad, as requested. Please review and reply with edits or your approval. Once approved, I will send this ad to the organization.
Thank you. Josh."
Within seconds of clicking the "send" button, I received a reply from one of the bakers. His single-line, signature-less correspondence read:
"Is this ad in black and white?"
I reread the ad specifications on the original solicitation from the theater (that was first sent to the bakers before it was attached to the email on which I was copied). Printed under the available ad sizes were the words: "All ads will be printed in black and white." I immediately and dutifully responded:
"Yes, according to the ad solicitation from the theater, all ad will be printed in black and white."
The baker replied with three words, and, what I interpreted as, an air of dismissive disgust:
"What a waste."
I wasn't sure how to take that. Perhaps the theater could not afford to print a program booklet in full color. It is a small community theater and full-color printing can lean towards expensive. I wasn't sure if his disdain was directed at me, as though I determined that this and all ads would run in monochrome. So, I just didn't reply. I just waited for the other baker who "requested" the ad to weigh in.
He did. Indirectly. He replied to a representative from the theater, informing her that a check would be sent by his assistant and an ad would be sent by "my colleague, Josh Pincus." (I'm a colleague. Whaddaya know?) I took that as an approval from Baker Number Two, so I sent the ad. All finished.
But not really.
Nearly two hours after I sent the ad to the theater, Baker Number One, once again, chimed in. He interjected:
"It appears we have no choice. I assume that none of you have a black and white TV."It got no response from anyone on the original email chain. I honestly don't know what it means. What I do know is:
- I sent the ad to the theater
- I got receipt confirmation for the ad
- I will never be able to figure out bakers.
* If you have been paying attention, you know that I do not work at a bakery.