I’ve been going to job interviews lately, for the obvious reason that I need a job. Stupidly, I went to one interview in the market research world. Or maybe not so stupidly, because it reminded me exactly why I left it.
“We’re looking for a BRIC speaker.”
Really. So ok, you want someone who can speak Brazilian – wait, isn’t that Portuguese? – and Russian. And Indian and Chinese. But Indian, I mean. Urdu? Or Punjabi? Or all of these? Do you know? Or is this just my attitude problem thing again?
So the job spec then. Someone who can go and do groups. Oh and visually interpret them. Let me see. You mean go and do group discussions but through a translator, unless you’re doing them in Portuguese, Russian, Urdu and Mandarin simultaneously, who can also judge the body language of all of those different cultures at the same time.
This is why most groups are crap, isn’t it? Because you’re asking them to be something they can’t be, but you won’t say that, so you’ll pretend that’s exactly what they are. Except the only difference will be you’re going to get me to fly half-way round the world to sit in someone’s living room while their dog is locked in the kitchen so we can talk about different colours of packaging for biscuits. Ethically, obviously, but not including the ethics of flying around the planet to help sell sugary rubbish to the developing world.
Oh, and do the PR. Because that’s really easy, isn’t it? Or do you mean schmoozing the client in four languages at the same time, like Roy Castle playing a drum, banjo, cymbals and a whistle on Record Breakers? Is that what you really want?
And collaborate through the organisation rather than ‘lording it’ to use their phrase, in a small company. I badly let myself down there. I didn’t tell them to fuck off and walk out.
But they will book the tickets and a hotel.
Business culture – what’s yours?
They actually said that. If I’d been on the Two Ronnies circa 1977 I could have said thank-you, a large scotch and he could have adjusted his designer glasses while the audience screamed with laughter, but I’m not. I waited for the next question.
Semiotics. What does that mean to you?
Because I was trying to be a grown-up I didn’t smack my knee and point at him and say Haaaaa!!!! Good one!!
I should have. Like, what’s your sign, baby?
And shepherd the client. And do a few groups, ‘right up to a whole cultural immersion.’ So I can expect a sauna with Abba playing in the background. And Desiree Cousteau dropping her towel, presumably. Come on, there have to be some benefits for putting up with this stuff.
Still, there was a very nice coffee shop next door, just how I’d wanted mine to be when I opened that in a small Suffolk village. And sadly at 2:30 on a weekday it was just as empty.
Me nursing a coffee and a pecan tart, both excellent. Two builders from next door who wanted a warm and to use the loo. The owner was paying £750 a month to share a place in Kings Cross, just far enough to make it too far to walk and a really big hill if you decided to cycle.
The past is another country. It’s not just that they do things differently but you can’t go back because it’s not actually there now. I needed to remember what a tedious pile of self-deluded pretentious bullshit classic UK consumer qualitative research can be. In that, it wasn’t a wasted day at all. I thought I could do with the money, but I was wrong. I have not got time to listen to this kind of nonsense any more.