Monday, February 10, 2014

My Son, the Doctor

Many, many years ago, when I was the age of many of today's Associate Creative Directors, I spent a summer working with my friend as a Lawn Doctor.

His father, a retired NYC cop, had just purchased the franchise serving the Greater Upper Saddle River portion of New Jersey, you know, Tony Soprano Country.

Naturally the old man needed two stupid and strong young teenagers to do the actual lawn doctoring. And as we had three months to kill before entering college, we fit the bill. Which made the name of the business even more laughable than it was.

We were to doctors as advertising planners are to rocket scientists.

The only plant life we had any working knowledge of pertained to specific herbs, known colloquially as Acapulco Gold or Maui Wowie or even the dreaded Adirondack Green.

Still, it was a great job.

We drank coffee.
We smoked weed.
And we pushed the machines, the mowers, the fertilizers, the aerators, around as if we knew what we were doing.

Oh, and we laughed our asses off.

But at the end of the day, over some Molsen's Golden Ales, we'd talk about the future. And how much better life would be when we finally get paid to use our minds. When we didn't have to wear dirty, sweaty overalls and we could apply our imaginations and tackle something more challenging than Mrs. Gianini's crabgrass.

The desk jobs came. And with it, the office politics, the finicky clients and the everyday bullshit of trying to make sense of the whole thing.

A few decades later, I find myself looking in the other direction.

I see sweaty cooks in a kitchen and yearn to be back there behind the line. I see bartenders serving up microbrews and wish I could slip into an apron. I see guys digging ditches on the highway and want to get out of my car and grab a shovel.

Like Peter in the cult classic OFFICE SPACE, I miss the joy of manual labor.

How quaint, I often ponder, to punch out at 5 o'clock and not think about work for another 16 liberating hours. I suspect this sentiment runs deep, particularly with my advertising brethren.

Maybe the grass isn't greener on the other side, but if I could earn the same amount of pay, I'd be more than happy to go mow it.


Unknown said...

Rich, I feel this way every time I shop at Trader Joe's. The cashier is always so happy and upbeat, I can't help but wonder, "What does this guy know that I don't? What am I missing?"

Anonymous said...

Rich we did the math on this, remember. It's insane once a customer base is established.

So if you work as a lawn guy, for 12 hrs per day, (mow and go 1 per hour, that's doable,) equals 12 customers per day. Basically 6am-6pm and if you worked 6 days per week with Sundays off you could do 72 lawns per week.

Week 1, 72 lawns, Week 2, 72 lawns for a total of 144 per month. Most lawns are mowed 2x per month so let's go with this duplex average.

144 customers per month x $70 (2x per month) service fee is a cash salary of $10,080 mo. (x12 mos) = $120,960 before taxes. Hmm.

By the way that's better than the average graduate Creatives and Copywriters salaries and all you gotta do is push and blow.

Not bad! Just gotta have the loyal customer base and do a spot on job. Just watch out for the Caganers.