A friend of mine sent me a note the other day. We’ve known each other for a long-time, and like me, she is ‘of a certain age.’
She was in the process of losing her job. It’s a process when you’re of a certain age, and a woman, because each of the four holding companies that together control something on the order of 80% of the advertising jobs in New York, is afraid of—not gaining a reputation for being ageist—but of being sued for sexism and ageism.
In any event, this was it for my friend. She and her agency of seven years were parting ways.
She cried on the phone. And begged for something that would make the pain and humiliation and fear go away.
Here’s what I wrote her:
“It was around the Jewish New Year. A beautiful autumn day. I had just run six miles or seven, like I was doing in those days.
I finished, exhausted.
I sat down on the granite steps leading up to the reservoir at 84th Street.
And I cried.
I had just been fired.
For being insubordinate. (I had grown up in advertising thinking that insubordination was part of the job.)
I was 39. Had two private school tuitions to pay. And two inquisitive daughters who would be upset if they knew I was out of work.
I was scared.
Was I done?
Would I ever work again?
What if my booked sucked?
What if I couldn’t find a job?
Then I did what I do. I did what you will do.
I called my friends. I made cold calls. I hustled and hustled some more.
Some days are dark and you feel like the phone will never again ring.
That you’re doomed.
You might find yourself sitting on the steps somewhere and crying.
But you will find work.
Better, more satisfying work.
And you will be better for it.
You have to believe in shit like this.