[Excerpted from Exaggerations And Lies Of A Sailor’s Life In Advertising…book I’m writing about my day job]
A guy calls from Chicago. I answer my landline “Hello?” “I needa marketing plan,” the guy says. Then he says: “holdonna minute.”
I hear a meaty hand slide over the mouthpiece then hear some meaty sounds slip by into the phone: One guy mumbling to another guy. The other guy mumbling back. Horns honking and brakes squeaking in heavy downtown traffic. I remember Chicago fondly, but am glad to be far from the cold windy shadows and sticky wet snow.
Still on hold (as in “holdinonnaminute”), it occurs to me to listen for the familiar rumbling-creaking-rattle of The Loop but, alas, the meaty hand is seriously goal-tending now and all I get now is the meaty sounds of the meaty hand itself.
Suddenly, a meaty voice that perfectly matches the meaty hand says: “Okay Bub, I’m back. Sorryboutdat, You still dere?”
“No problem,” I answered, still reading emails at my desk, glad to not be in Chicago; glad to be under slow-moving ceiling fans looking at banana trees through an open window. “You mentioned needing a marketing plan?” I said to The Meat.
A big bright-green insect landed so heavily on my Rolodex that the D’s spun over and flipped open the A’s.
“Well da bawz wansta know what dat would coss,” The Meat said.
Hmmmmm, I thought. One of thoooooooooose. I took a big breath, filling up my lungs completely, then slooooowwly let it out, Yoga style, counting to ten. “How much do you want to spend?” I queried, a little restrained.
Winston, an enormous yellow parrot, perched barely five feet away, tightened his grip on his little wooden balance beam.
“Zaaaaactly!!!” The Meat barked excitedly, “Da bawz wantsta know how much do we wants ta spend! Kinya hep us wit dat, Bub?” The Meat seemed really happy. I could tell our call was going better than his early expectations.
I was happy that he was happy and so started to speak-
“Holdonnaminute,” he said, cutting me off. The meaty hand slid over the phone again; as the muffled meaty voice spoke to the Other Guy again.
I could tell they were still in the city. I remembered a fabulous place for deep dish pizza: a basement-level walk-down. People wrote all over the walls and the ceiling with chalk. I wondered if The Meat knew of the place. Of course he does, I thought.
I watched the bright green insect balance on a single Rolodex card. I noticed it was the number of a diesel mechanic that worked on my boat last year. I decided to ring him up about the stuck fuel gauge. I looked at my watch, took note of the time and decided it was unprofessional to be thinking about deep dish pizza and diesel mechanics while On Hold with a meaty hand calling from Chicago.
I straightened up and opened another email, happening to look just in time to watch Winston shift forward and drop parrot doo on an expensive plant from the South Pacific I keep in a big clay pot.
Paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. At least not now, still on hold.
Okay. I get a surfing tee, cargo shorts and flip-flops.
But then there’s a meaty hand calling from cold windy shadows in city traffic wanting to know (even though he doesn’t realize that he wants to know) “which comes first, the chicken or egg?”
Or, in this case, “the budget or the marketing plan?”
On a good day, the caller will be savvy enough, patient enough, interested enough and open-minded enough to not hang up when I ask “What do you hope to achieve and in what amount of time?”
But on a bad day, like this one, the caller is clueless and there’s no point hanginonnaminute because the caller isn’t really interested and, regardless, isn’t going to be able to help me help him.
I decide to hangonnaminute just long enough to finish reading the last email while passively listening for familiar sounds from The Loop.
When the cat jumps onto my desk I look up just in time to see the bright green insect fly out the window and in the exact same split second there’s a commotion on the streets of Chicago: a horn, brakes, collision, CRASH, “fer-cryin-out-loud” …then the humming droning static of a disconnected line.
I shrug, set the handset down and pad barefoot on thick tiles out into the warm sunny skies of Pineapple Hill.
# # #
— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill