Ill Prepared for Life or Death

Anyone who’s ever owned a pet knows that when they pass there’s no moving beyond, or turning the page, or getting back to normal. There’s none of that. Instead, the challenge is in getting unstuck. It’s in finding a way to exist in neutral with a heart so swollen with grief it’s almost impossible to breathe.

For me, the last few months have been hell. I feel like I walked out of a vet hospital at 6:30 in the morning on November 26th, and straight into a brand new world where the air is heavy and gravity has tripled its pull and it’s difficult to hear anything over the constant hum in my head that hasn’t let up since Diesel closed his eyes for the last time.

Dealing with my new reality would be so much easier if I could do it alone, but that’s not how things work. Instead, there are people to navigate, gigs to pursue, contracts to win, responsibilities to be accomplished, the list goes on and I’ve been dragging my feet.

Last week the CEO of a tech company looking for a content marketing specialist contacted me. He said he was looking for someone to take on all of his digital communications needs, including web and blog content to today’s SEO standard; press releases; illustrator and photoshop requirements; how-to video content to support the web and blog content; product descriptions; and, social media. He had the makings of an anchor client, having asked if I’d work with him exclusively. This opportunity came with all the right stuff, at exactly the wrong time, so I ignored the sick feeling that was building in my stomach, and the pounding stress headache making its way from my forehead to the top of my spinal cord, and I jumped in.

On Monday I received my first assignment: “write a blog/press release that talks about Apple’s NFC friendly iOS 11, and the two awesome new hires the company made as a result.” Then he asked how much I’d charge.

Anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of marketing and content knows that press releases and blog posts are two totally different pieces of writing that call on opposing approaches save for the awareness objective, so ugh… here we go.

I filled the guy in on the differences between blog posts and press releases, offering to write the post first and then rework that information into a press release. Then I quoted him a reasonable rate, throwing the press release in for free since I can knock those things out in my sleep. I fired off my email, went to the gym to try to coax a little blood flow and creative brainstorming, and while I was on the elliptical I came up with the perfect approach to the post. I was ready to go, and pretty excited that, for the first time in forever, I felt motivated.

The minute I got home I checked my email to see if the tech guy had agreed to my approach, and was hit with a seething message about my obnoxious rates and how he had no intention of working with me. Ever.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading because A) this is the tech industry, not a mom and pop shop on a shoestring budget; and, B) I’d purposely lowballed the guy in order to lock down the business.

I responded by letting him know I was sorry my rates weren’t what he’d expected, and asked him what he’d budgeted for. In all my years as a sales professional, this tactic has never worked, but I gave it a shot.

No response.

Unwilling to let this thing I didn’t even want to do in the first place end in rejection with my work having gone unseen I buckled down, hammered out the intro to the blog I’d planned to write, and then put together an outline that showed, paragraph by paragraph and right down to the kicker or the CTA or whatever he wanted, how I’d envisioned tackling the project.

I wrote a quick blurb letting the guy know that I understood he’d been put off by my quote, but that I’ve included an example of how I’d planned to approach the project and, if he liked what he saw, I was open to a counter offer.

Iced. Not a single word.

The point of this whole thing is this: there are some really nice people in this world, and then there are the crushers, and the effects these two groups are having on my new zombie self are now magnified beyond any reasonable measure and it is hard.

The first group, the nice people, when they offer a smile, or when they ask about my day, or when they give me a free box of Heineken branded gloves because the store’s promotion ended but there’s still a few gloves lying around, it makes me so happy that, for just an instant, I can rise above my grief and sadness, and I do feel warm and alive and grateful, and I do see the flicker of a light at the end of a dark tunnel signalling the beginnings of recovery.

But then, along comes a rep from that second group: The crushers. The ones who suck all the oxygen, and any traces of a radial positive vibe out from their axis of existence while batting deflated effigies to the ground one by one as they barrel over conquests, make way! Enormous egos coming through…

So it’s back to square one and I’m down for the count. Someone breathe some life into me, please, or point me to the nearest hole so I can crawl in and hide.

Without my buddy by my side, I’m useless.

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