10 August 2005

Swag isn't what it used to be

When I used to write for a living, I got free stuff. Not just the stuff I wrote about -- theater tickets, boat rides up the Hudson, passes to museum show openings -- but stuff people thought I might write about. Advance copies of books, CDs, the occasional lipstick or eyeshadow. There wasn't an expectation on anyone's part that by accepting these things I would actually write about them. That's just what the PR industry does -- sends out loads of press releases and products in the hope that someone will feature one somewhere -- and entertainment journalism isn't exactly Woodward and Bernstein, let's face it.

This was in stark contrast to my days on Capitol Hill when, fresh out of college, I was mightily impressed by the senior staffer who would send any gifts he received directly to the nearest homeless shelter.

In my current job, I receive no perks. Once, someone who came in for an informational interview brought me a small box of Jacques Torres chocolates. That was a great day. I only wish there'd been a job for him.

What we do get a lot of here is visitors. I don't want to talk about my job too much, even if it's not negative (cf.: Dooce), but suffice it to say that what we do here is more interesting than what goes on in most midtown Manhattan offices, in a strictly legal, very wholesome way. Teachers hear about us, call me, and ask whether they can bring their class of 40 or so students by for a tour. We show them a video, answer their questions, take them on a tour of our facility and send them on their way within the hour. Usually there are two or three kids with their hands raised the entire time; the rest of them are just happy to be on a field trip.

Private school groups, though, are usually smaller, and frequently single sex. Recently, a group of eight fourth graders from the Emma Willard, a girls' school north of the city, came by.

I like fourth grade girls. They are still very curious about the world at large, and being smart isn't yet totally uncool. Without boys to impress, or to bully them, girls excel academically. (I know this for, like, a fact. I did a Westinghouse Science Competition project about the "Relational vs. Positional Characteristics of Women Who Attend Single Sex vs. Co-ed Colleges" when I was in high school. I was a semi-finalist even.)

These girls were all well prepared with questions, and ended up staying for far longer than most groups. They talked about coming back sometime, with more of their classmates. They were in school during the summer, for god's sake. Clearly, they are the leaders of the future.

Afterwards, they even sent a thank-you note, complete with a little gift.

On the right is a folded up travel alarm clock, with the school's crest imprinted on it. We identified the object on the left at first as a coaster, but on closer inspection, its heavy stone and cork base lead us to believe that it is, in fact, a trivet. You know, for all those hot casseroles we serve at the office. Thanks, girls.


Anonymous MeGo said...

Yay, Emma Willard fourth grade girls! Yay, single-sex education! (I was not the recipient of one.) Keep up the good blogging!!

11:23 PM  

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