Sign of My Times: Marketing Scams and Following the Dream

Posted on April 28, 2009

There are those of us who, before making any decisions, search the universe for a sign – whether it be in the stars, a change of circumstances, the words of an intimate acquaintance…

And sometimes, you are given a sign you aren’t even looking for.

For those of you following the saga, I still have yet to rejoin the working world, but this has been far from a depressing time. I have health insurance, savings from before the financial tsunami, the support of my friends and family…I’ve been using this time to explore my creative side – poetry, songwriting, etc, etc. Still, when my father told me about a chance encounter on the subway with a woman running “an internet startup”, I thought something interesting might come of it.

She called him the next day, eager to meet with me after he told her of the web development work I did with Lehman Brothers. Then I gave her a call, asking her a few basics about her company.

“It’s kinda hard to explain. It would be great if you could attend our presentation Sunday night.”

That probably should have been my first clue. But, having been around startups enough, I can understand the need for not giving away too much of your business plan and trade secrets. I was curious enough to sacrifice a night of Masterpiece Theater to find out more. She even offered to pick me up, saying that she believed in “minimizing traffic on the road”.

Fast forward to Sunday evening. She swings by, makes small talk with my dad, and even invites him along to see the presentation. That should have been my second clue. My father is an accountant for an insurance company – what possible role could he play. Curious himself, he decided to hop in and join us. After stumbling about on the Jackie Robinson parkway, we ended up on Jamaica Avenue, around 87th street, outside a cramped little “office”. My third clue. Still, I’m a forgiving guy willing to give anybody the benefit of the doubt.

“I wanted to bring you here early to meet some people we’re doing business with.” She said, introducing me to some casually dressed, relaxed Asians who drank in the warm summer air, looking fresh out of college, without a care in the world.

Their stories were the same – they had worked 12-18 hours as a dry cleaner, a Time Warner technician, a UPS driver, and in 2-3 years, they had made enough money to retire. And magically, the money was “still rolling in”.

My father and I looked at each other. There we were, in the middle of Woodhaven, sunday night, listening to a marketing scam.

Just to be polite, we sat in the first half hour of the presentation, then we suddenly experienced a “family emergency”, and excused ourselves. On the J train back home, we laughed and shook our heads about it.

I’m taking this as a sign. For the past few weeks, I’ve seriously considered leaving engineering, IT, and the finance world behind for the pursuit of some more creative endeavor – my guitar, for example, at which I’m doing pretty well. For a moment, like a dog returning to its own vomit, I considered forgetting everything I’d learned over the past few months to return to that old, soulless (though familiar world). And I paid the price for it – a lost evening and subway fare back home.

Well, these days, that’s a pretty cheap education.

» Filed Under Everything and Nothing


Leave a Reply

  • Topics of the Moment

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • What I’m Listening To…

  • Nigel Radio!