Upon my graduation from college, I had a conversation with a friend about our mixed feelings about starting Real Life. She pouted, "But I'm not ready to give up binge drinking!" My advice to her, and to all, is that you don't have to! Just work at an agency.
Tonight will be the first installment in my series of What I've Learned in the Mailroom. The topic: ALCOHOL!
And boy, is there a lot of it! Take, for instance, the scene I observed walking through the hallway around 6 pm on a Monday:
Senior Agent 1 walks out of the kitchen with a red solo cup in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other. He says to Senior Agent 2, "Boy, these cups are great. Nobody can tell what's in 'em."
I hid my smirk behind my stack of interoffice envelopes. But sir, I wanted to say, people can surely tell there is a BOTTLE OF JACK DANIELS in your other hand.
We once had an official meeting in which the head of HR told us that she wanted the agency to be like a fraternity. I thought it odd...but let me tell you, we all take this attitude very seriously. Yes, we keep piles of red solo cups in all the kitchens. After 4 pm on any given day (or all day on Friday), you are safe in assuming that said solo cups are not holding Arrowhead. Now, we often do "projects" for agents and assistants. A "project" might be a character breakdown or script coverage. It might be organizing a folder of headshots or magazine articles. It might be a run down to a production company or a client's house. It might be taking a shot at the bar across the street. Or going on a beer run. Or schmoozing at a film fest party and drinking a lot of free rum.
These things happen both in and out of the office. If it's someone's birthday...we have drinks! If someone moves on to a new job...we have drinks! If someone ends their internship...we have drinks! If someone gets promoted to agent...we have drinks! If we sign a great new client...we have drinks! If it's a holiday...we have drinks! If it's the end of the day...we have drinks!
Sensing a theme here?
Now, it can get pretty dangerous, since everybody changes a little when they drink. Do you make out with people you normally wouldn't - Or try your hardest? Do you get in fights? Are you brutally honest? Do you spread rumors? Do you dance like an idiot? Because you're going to do these things with people you WORK with. And see EVERY DAY. It's kind of amazing to me that people don't care. I mean, reaaaaally don't care. I've seen mailroom kids, assistants, agents even get WASTED with work people. I've seen them do all those things and more. Maybe it's because they work too hard and need to let loose. Maybe it's because they're caught up in living the Hollywood life. Maybe they just never plan to grow up, because it's LA and you don't have to. Maybe it's because they take that fraternity thing way too seriously.
For me, it's great. Because I'm a writer. I stand back and observe. I watch and listen and think, God, these are some amazing characters.
But I have to be careful...because I can be a drunk talker, too. :)