Monday, November 4, 2013

None for me, thank you.

On a recent trip to the doctor, I was told I have the body of a man 10 years younger than my actual age. In other words, I have the health of a 34 year old. Albeit, a fat 34 year old.

My strength is up.

My blood pressure and cholesterol are down.

And my resting heart beat is in the 50's. In my triathlon days, it was in the 40's.

I try not to take any of this for granted. Given a choice, I would take health over wealth in a heartbeat. Then again, if somebody had the power to offer me health or wealth, I'd ask that person or superpower why I couldn't have both?

To what do I attribute this unusual healthiness?

I believes it stems from my employment status, that is, my unemployment status. Technically, I don't have a job. I'm unemployed. Have been for close to 10 years. I'm part of that growing subculture of Americans known as freelancers.

I don't know where my next check is coming from.

I don't have an office. Or a cubicle. Or an assigned seat at the sweatshop…er, communal creative table. I don't have a paid vacation. I don't have any health insurance plans. And I won't be getting any novelty coffee mugs or unwearable Christmas socks because I don't have a Secret Santa for the upcoming holidays.

Frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I see what goes on in offices, more specifically ad agency offices, and it makes my head spin. For instance, when I was a staffer, a woman from the Traffic Department would stop my desk and nag me about a status meeting at 3. Now meeting notices come via email. They come in bunches. On indecipherable Excel layouts. A diligent project manager can schedule status meetings well into the next decade. And often do.

And what about the process of coming up with creative solutions? The target used to move when I was on the corporate payroll. Today, targets are quite jittery. And move faster than a midnight cockroach. You need a daisy cutter to hit one.

Finally, the saying used to go, "There are too many cooks in the kitchen." Well, there were too many, but instead of logically thinning the herd and taking the decision-making process away from committees, agencies have gone the other direction and made the kitchen bigger. Much bigger.

Now, everybody gets a say in what goes out the door.

"Take these animatics down to the 7th floor and see if Bill, the Accounts Payable clerk, thinks we're delivering on the brief. Oh, and ask him if we should hold a little longer on the pack shot."

Years ago, on the plane during my life changing move from stressful New York to less-stresful California, I heard a wiser, older man tell his son something that has stuck with me over the years.

"Good health isn't about what you eat. It's about what you let eat you."

Well, with regards to work, I stopped dining at the company commissary a long time ago and have been brown bagging it ever since.

Happily and healthfully, I might add.

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