In late January I began another marketing internship at Mack Industries, an event branding agency located in SoHo. After a joint interview I was hired on the spot, probably by virtue of having not finished high school last week. I was excited from the moment I stepped inside the lofty, open-plan office. I filled out my application on a leather couch, as The Cure blasted from an iPod hooked up to a stereo. Other employees arrived on skateboards, while at one end of the room a man paced up and down speaking French into a telephone. The walls were adorned with oversize prints of Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono and other icons of popular culture. A series of blown-up images of John Lennon shooting hoops with Miles Davis hung behind the desk of Willie Mack, the company’s jet-setting, flip-flop-wearing boss.
I was immediately attracted to this position, even though I was vague about the job itself. Sadly I quickly learned the “job” was not all it seemed, and it soon transpired I was basically being used as a plumber, decorator, locksmith, DIY expert and general errand boy. In two-and-a-half months at Mack I changed a bathroom fitting, painted an exterior wall, changed a lock, fitted a curtain track rail to the ceiling, ran all over town fetching and buying equipment, and spent an entire day in the snow handing out flyers for a ridiculous “event” called Absolut Machines, in which the Swedish vodka giant had sponsored the creation of an ludicrous if ingenious internet-operated music box, housed at a what a colleague infuriatingly referred to as a “space” on the Lower East Side.
High points did include interviewing models at a Morgane Le Fay fashion show, in which I came up with the killer question, “Which is tougher: becoming a model or dating a model?” and even met a bleary-eyed Brittany Murphy. When I wasn’t running all over town, I was working on writing for Mack’s proposed online newsletter, but even that was impossible. Willie was mostly absent, and so there was little clear direction in the office. Sometimes meetings were held which only served to cloud issues further. No-one ever seemed to know what they were supposed to be doing. Equally infuriating was the office’s insistence on using Instant Messenger for all conversations. When I would ask a question to colleague (sitting three feet away), they’d reply, “Just IM me it, darling.”
I was surrounded by the very type of young person I loathe, and was mad at myself for having been fooled into thinking the place was cool. I wasn’t going to waste any more precious days performing menial tasks for young urban narcissists. On what turned out to be my last day I was sent to organize the picking-up of Willie’s new designer sofa. The following week I quit, demanding the money I’d been promised (I had yet to receive a cent from these guys). A very talented and yet-to-be-paid colleague had warned me early on that the company was “bulls**t” — I should’ve listened to him.