Uptown Rantz

Don't Wanna Be No Uptown Fool

Archive for the tag “thomson reuters”

Goin’ Home

I’m taking a weekend trip back to Minneapolis over Halloween weekend. Kristine has to work, so I’ll be solo, which is how I preferred anyway. I’ll stop by Cheney’s studio in Loring Park and drink Corona and eat pasta. I’ll stop by Parker’s duplex in Linden Hills and drink Heineken and hear about the escorts he’s been fucking.

I want to walk around Uptown and feel something, maybe even a longing for the neighborhood I called home for seven years, and the dirty, cold winters spent drinking pints and eating pizza slices at Green Mill. Some of those pint-nights were black-out carelessness and others were attempts at smothering an attack of depression stemming from feeling powerless over my life and wanting someone to come home to.

It was the days of thinking I would never make it out of the copywriter boredom of Thomson Reuters. It was that very boredom and frustration that led to the birth of this blog. It’s important to walk through memories now-and-then, even the bad ones…especially the bad ones. If for no other reason than to remind myself that I went through all of that and I’m still here.


I Saw This One Coming…

Writers Sue Thomson Reuters Findlaw

God speed, brothers. God speed.

Rage Against the Machine

The phone call ends with him telling me that they’ll e-mail me the offer sheet by the end of the day.  It arrives in an attachment at 3:12pm along with a message saying to sign it, drop it in the mail if it looks ok and to have a nice weekend.  It’s Friday.

I print it out. It’s one page and details my salary, job description, vacation, travel expectations and all types of HR stuff.  It seems ok, but what do I know?  It’s the first offer sheet I’ve ever looked at, and I never even heard of the term “offer sheet” until today.

I find an employment attorney on Craigslist to review it for $125.00.  I forward the attachment to her and she calls me back the next afternoon.  She asks if anything they ever told me is to the contrary in the offer sheet.  I say nope.  She asks if I’m happy with the salary listed, and being that it’s over double of what I was earning at TR, I say yep.  Probably the easiest $125.00 she’ll ever earn, but I feel better having done some due diligence on behalf of my future.

She says I’ve officially accepted their offer of employment when I drop it in the mail.  I can’t find a mailbox fast enough.  It’s Saturday afternoon and the mailman has come and gone.  The blue drop box on Hennepin across from the Uptown Diner immediately comes to mind.  I was going to walk to Walgreen’s anyway to get some non-fluoride toothpaste and batteries.

I pull on the creaky mailbox handle and I’ve missed the Saturday pick-up time but that’s fine.  Dropping it in there is more symbolic than anything.  I hear it land on a pile of letters and I’ve set in course some life changing chain of events…a cube to an office…a 12 year old car to a new Jeep Rubicon…QuickBooks to my own personal financial advisor…mutual funds to individual stocks.  Lately, I’ve had CNBC on in the mornings and now “ETF’s” and “angel investors” are no longer foreign concepts.

Walking away from the mailbox I realize I got exactly what I wanted.  For years I felt like I was on a treadmill…staying in one place.  Now I’ve grabbed a rung of success and the only way is up.  The stronger I am, the higher I’ll climb. I used to be naïve enough to think that people who worked for success and money were sell-outs.  I raged against the machine along with the others who thought there was nobility in just getting by.  There’s not.

Thank You, Donna Karan

There’s a scene in Kramer v. Kramer where Dustin Hoffman’s character is told by his attorney that he doesn’t stand a chance of getting child custody since he’s unemployed.  Hoffman assuredly tells his attorney that he’ll get a job in 24 hours and hangs up the phone.  It’s Christmas Eve.  Hoffman’s character, a copywriter, walks in un-invited to an office party at a New York City ad agency with only his portfolio and a shitload of gravitas.  He gets a job.

I’m getting dressed for the second interview and that scene is playing on repeat in my head.  If only it were that easy these days.  Hell, maybe it is, I don’t know.  But it’s a marked contrast to all the little events that have brought me to this day.

All the online job applications and resumes sent to a central resume bank, the form rejection e-mails, no rejection e-mails, countless user names and passwords for countless job sites, career fairs, phone calls in the D building stairwell where the echo carried my discussions with recruiters and receptionists up and down six floors, the Youtube videos about breathing through the diaphragm for better speaking and voice projection during interviews…I want that all behind me now and forever.

It’s why I spent about two paychecks on this DKNY suit for this second and final interview.  I liked the suit because on the mannequin it fit exactly like Jimmy Fallon’s suits fit him. And it looks the same way on me.  I look like I know what I’m doing and where I’m going in this suit. I could take Taylor Swift to dinner in this suit and end up taking her to breakfast the next day.

For luck, I’m wearing the same belt as I did last time.  I’m standing on Hennepin and the #6 is approaching.  It’s the same bus driver as last time…a good sign.  Something I’ve done my whole life in nervous times is read a book that I’ve read at least once in my life.  Today’s selection for the bus ride is Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. The familiar words relax me and being relaxed adds to my confidence.

One of my TR friends (I have few) told me yesterday that she’s happy for me and it’s admirable what I’m doing.  She made it sound like I was joining the Peace Corps.  She began at TR in 2005 and told herself she would be there no more than two years tops.  But this is no time to be thinking about her…I’m wearing a DKNY suit for Christ’s sake.

I step off the bus and walk towards the building entrance like I’m late.  I’m far from late, but pretending I’m late makes me walk with a purpose.  The guy at the security desk says, “Welcome back,” and gives me my “visitor” badge.  There’s no waiting for him to verify why I’m there like last time.  He buzzes me right through the door.  The same twenty-something brunette wearing the telephone headset smiles at me when I enter the office.

“Heeey, great suit.  Coffee?”

I’ve Been Looking Forward To This…

It’s been so long since I’ve worn a suit that I forget to button the top suit coat button.  All the time at Thomson Reuters has negated the need for a professional wardrobe.  I arrive downtown for the interview 45 minutes early and mill around City Center…everyone walks fast around here. I rehearsed three days for this one day.  I had my shoes professionally polished and memorized the company’s quarterly earnings from Hoovers.com.  The first words out of my mouth will be, “Thank you for meeting with me.  I’ve been looking forward to this.”

I want to look clean and organized, so I left the leather shoulder bag at home.  I carry only an 8 ½ x 11 portfolio and the day’s Star Tribune. I thought the Wall Street Journal would be pushing it a little. I was told I’ll meet first with the recruiter and then with the woman who I’ll report to if hired.  A Linkedin connection informed me that the recruiter recently competed in the Twin Cities Marathon.  And my connection made it a point to emphasize that she competed in it as opposed to merely running in it.  Either way, it’ll be my ice-breaker.

I want to arrive exactly five minutes early to minimize the wait and the nerves.  I figure I’ll leave about two minutes to check-in with security and to get to the appropriate floor.

I tell the security desk that I’m here for an interview.  The corporate entrance has the look and feel of an expensive hotel.  The two guards are extremely professional – they’re wearing ties and look like FBI agents.  I can’t imagine they stare at girls and make locker room remarks, like I’ve seen the TR guards do.

Off the elevator and I approach the room number that I had written on a post-it note in my wallet.  I open the door and a twenty-something brunette with a telephone headset smiles directly at me from behind her U-shaped desk.  The past seven days of Crest whitening strips allows me to return the smile just as confidently.  I politely decline her offer of coffee or water and take a seat in a comfortable chair.  I slip two Altoids into my mouth.

Everything is nicer and cleaner here.  It’s intimidating.  Everyone walks with a purpose and it looks like they want to be here.  It’s refreshing. In situations like this, it’s easy to tell yourself that your clothes aren’t as nice as everyone else’s, your hair isn’t as cool, you didn’t have an exciting weekend like they all had, etc…but I can’t do that.  It’s just a different environment than the one I’m used to.  Damn Thomson Reuters has given me post-traumatic stress.

I’m waiting and thinking of the various ways this job would change my present circumstances: the starting salary would instantly boost me to a higher tax bracket, I would be a better dressed person every day, my commute would change to a ten second walk to the bus stop and a short #6 ride from Uptown to downtown, I would have an array of upscale bars and restaurants at my disposal for happy hours instead of Jake’s sports bar, I would be introduced to the world of annual bonuses and raises and gone would be the days of repeatedly hitting the snooze button in dread of another day.

Now I’m eager.  Not just plain ordinary eager, either.  I mean Budd Foxx-waiting-to-meet-Gekko-for-the-first-time eager.  “Life comes down to a few important moments, and this is one of them,” said Mr. Foxx.  Time to Pretend by MGMT is melodically buzzing through my head…let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.

There’s a hallway to the left of the reception desk.  I can’t see around it, but I recognize the recruiter’s voice from our phone conversations and she’s approaching.  She’s now walking towards me with a smile and an out-stretched right hand.  I extend mine.  “Thank you for meeting with me.  I’ve been looking forward to this…”

Exit the Building Immediately

I wonder if it’s appropriate to be drinking this much at a children’s birthday party?  I wonder if anyone is counting the number of empties that I’ve scattered throughout the back yard and kitchen?  It’s a Saturday afternoon that I’m treating like a Friday night, and for no other reason than I have nothing to do when I get home.  For the parents here, this is a stop on an agenda.  For me, this is it for today.  The parents were told to bring their kids and the single people were told to bring themselves.  If this house weren’t walking distance from mine I’d still be sleeping.

The weather isn’t even that cool, but some are wearing the North Face that they’ve been eager to debut for weeks…anxiously waiting for the temperature to dip below 70 degrees.  Why the hell is North Face treated like Haute Couture around here? Minnesotans wear it like Parisians wear Christian Lacroix and Givenchy.

I walk inside and some husbands are watching college football, but UT doesn’t play until tonight so I have no interest.  I make my way to the bathroom not because I have to piss, but it’s a place to leave one more empty Miller bottle before I grab another from the fridge.  All the kids are in the living room jumping around to The Knack’s My Sharona. I want to tell them to shout out, “My scro-tum,” in the chorus but they’ll figure that out for themselves in college like I did.

I’m at the home of Jennifer and Scott.  Jennifer spent about one year as a Westlaw contractor, and to say her tenure came to an abrupt end is putting it mildly.  She returned from lunch on a Friday afternoon and was unable to log-in to the testing platform.  Her e-mails to the project lead went un-returned.  Jennifer’s phone rang and it was the woman at the temp agency who placed her at WL.  Temp lady told Jennifer that she just received a call from some WL middle-manager and that because work on the project was slowing down, she had to inform Jennifer that her time as a contractor had ended.  She then told Jennifer to hang-up and immediately exit the building.  This all happened in the span of about 15 minutes.  One of the reasons contractors had zero vested interest in product quality.

I used to think it was odd that I kept in touch with former fellow WL contractors, but I reached a conclusion about it.  We’re like survivors of a plane crash…we have a shared bond over an experience we never anticipated and would rather forget.  My blog is the little black box.

Naps in the Reflection Room and Are You a Maverick or a Louden?

Every group of males has guys with names like Schmitty, or Smitty, or O’mar, or Waggzy, or Snoop, or Burnzy, or Sluggo.  Tonight, Waggzy calls and wants to grab drinks at The Bulldog.

Waggzy and I were college roommates and he spent about a year at TR, where he routinely took naps in the basement Reflection Room.  He said if he had to walk in the bathroom and see that guy washing his feet in the sink, then a mid-day siesta in the Reflection Room was even-stevens.  I know…what a dick.  This is the same guy who nearly broke his back in college attempting to walk up bleachers with a log on his shoulders like Brian Shute in Vision Quest.  Waggzy is now a mutual fund manager.

We had that f’ing movie on VHS in our Como Avenue apartment and we watched it religiously.  Before a night of boozin’ in Dinkytown…pop-in Vision Quest.  Before a final exam…pop-in Vision Quest.  After a night of boozin’ in Dinkytown…pop-in Vision Quest.  Louden Swain was a hero to us…our every man.  He was an ordinary individual pursuing an extraordinary goal.  Our other friends had Pete Mitchell (call-sign, “Maverick”) and all his bravado in Top Gun, but what Louden lacked in machismo and shirt-less volleyball skill, he doubled in courage and conviction.  Maverick was a champion.  Louden was the conqueror of a champion.  Maverick knew he was the best, but Louden had the hunger and clarity to beat the best.

Louden works part-time in a hotel delivering room service to its guests.  The chef is an old guy…a lifer at the hotel who lives in a small room and has lived his life standing against the wall watching it all go by.  Louden stops by his room wondering why he took a rare night off to attend his wrestling match.  “It’s six lousy minutes,” Louden implores…

And then there were two 21 year old guys in a messy living room trying to hide their watery eyes, even though we had watched that scene over 100 times.

Matthew Modine (Louden Swain) was Jerry Bruckheimer’s first choice for the role of Maverick in Top Gun.  Modine was turned off by the film’s overt themes of war and Reagan/Bush foreign policy and declined the offer.  The role went to Tom Cruise.  But that’s fine.  There’s too many Maverick’s in the world.  Those Jersey Shore douche-bags…Mavericks.  The guy tail-gaiting you on the way to work this morning…Maverick.  For all those Mavericks and Brian Shutes, there’s a Louden Swain lurking…

Viking Jerseys

Tomorrow is the Vikings opener, and the only reason I care is because the official over/under on the number of Vikings jerseys spotted on the TR campus has been set at 11.  I’ll get the over by 1pm at the latest.

Caroline, Findlaw and Spyhouse Coffee

It’s the first cool evening in awhile as I walk towards Spyhouse on Hennepin because there’s nothing good on TV and I’ve read all my magazines. I walk in and the first person I see is Caroline, who I haven’t seen since she left Thomson Reuters for a lucrative position in government affairs at Target corporate over a year ago. We began as contractors in Westlaw at the same time and bonded because we were both way overdressed on our first day. When I moved to Findlaw our daily lunches were what I looked forward to most.

While working at Thomson, she did a lot of research and reached the conclusion that Thomson stifles ambition and doesn’t reward initiative. From that point on she focused her attention on Target and Best Buy.

I always admired Caroline’s resolve and positive attitude. Other contractors seemingly threw in the towel and took permanent positions at Thomson only to complain later about the money they could be making elsewhere. Caroline got into Target by not taking no for an answer and now she has a great salary complete with stock options. With annual performance raises, she’ll eventually earn six figures plus bonuses. I tell her we still get turkeys at Thanksgiving. And that even further on the upside, the web marketing training has helped make my ebay descriptions jump off the screen and sell faster. She smiles more out of pity, I think, instead of humor.

It takes zero convincing to accept her offer of beers and catching-up at Green Mill. So over pints and a shared plate of nachos we discuss her upwardly-mobile career and my lack of one. She smiles as she excitedly talks about life at Target corporate – even her eyes smile as she details the uber-nice downtown building and upscale professional dress code. She hasn’t seen a pair of crocs since happily leaving the Thomson campus.

She asks me about the various people from Findlaw she remembers seeing during our lunches in C cafeteria…the older lady who sits on the patio outside C cafeteria sunning herself, and who also looks exactly like Ms. Crabapple from The Simpsons and is even orange like a Simpson’s character…the short hipster Asian guy with the white leather messenger bag who walks around with the frumpy sarcastic Jewish guy…hot Elena…the guy who for some reason thought it would be cool to grow his goatee to a grotesquely long length probably to compensate for his pre-mature balding…the group of older writers that sit together in editorial meetings who I fear I may become if I don’t stay focused on my career goals…and the two blonde sisters who don’t look alike but they’re both pretty.

I tell her yep, it’s all the same. Nothing changes around Thomson – not even the pay scale. She says that Target’s regulatory department is rapidly expanding and she’ll personally pass my resume to the right person. It’s the best news I’ve heard since hearing Friday Night Lights is returning for a final season.

I cut myself off after two Stella’s. Besides, I have to rush home and re-do my resume. The next morning I e-mail Caroline my resume. I arrive at work and walk the 44 miles from my car to the building…past the guys at the security desk who are only slightly more pleasant than construction workers and probably less-educated. I sit down in my cube and Caroline has already replied with suggestions for revising my resume…remove the underlining and italics because it makes it difficult for HR to scan into their system.

I rapidly re-send. Caroline replies and says it looks good. Now I’m going to D cafeteria to stare out the window for awhile.

Findlaw, Thomson Reuters, Lame Jim and Hot Elena

I’m sitting in my cube intently staring at my monitor with my fingers motionless on the keyboard.  It’s the easiest way to mask complete boredom but still look like I’m focused on work.  Work…writing generic web marketing copy.  How many times can I re-phrase, “simple solutions to complex problems,” or “leave your legal worries to us” or “count on our experience”? Well, I can re-phrase them a hell of a lot because I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done just that.

I thought this would be better than being an Editor across the skyway in Westlaw.  It’s not.  We get free sodas here in Findlaw and there’s a higher ratio of hot girls to not-hot girls, but the work still remains mundane.  And despite the Texas-like humidity outside and inside the building, there’s this girl here that wears long sleeve sweaters over long sleeve shirts.  She’s been doing it all summer.  By 3pm the sweater is draped over the back of her chair, her shirt cuffs are un-buttoned and her shirt-tail un-tucked.

But I awake from my open-eyed nap and I’m on my way to interview training.  You see, before we can write a client’s website we have to interview them to find out about their law practice areas.  It’s not so much an interview as a conversation, but it apparently necessitates a training session.  The half-dozen or so of us sit in silence waiting for the session to begin.  A tall strawberry blonde named Elena walks by the all-windows training room in a long hip-hugging skirt.  The girls hide their jealousy and the guys hide their erections.  If my cube were next to hers, I would love this job.

The fifth beer at CC Club last night was not a good idea.  It wasn’t enough to make me fully hung-over, but just enough to make me sit near the door of this room and pray that the nearest toilet is relatively clean, which is a tall order here at Thomson Reuters anytime after 1pm.

The session is conducted by Jim, the copyright lead.  He makes it a point to mention that he once held a job at a start-up in San Francisco where he dealt daily with the heads of major corporations.  Sure, Jim.  And that in this previous job, his background in theatre and voice-training came in handy and made him an effective communicator.  Sure, Jim.

I think he mentions this to make it known that he wasn’t always a 40-something under-achiever confined to a cubicle all day when most men his age have offices and don’t wear the same pair of black Doc Martens every single day.  Who even still wears Doc Martens?  Throughout the hour-long session, Jim rapidly swivels his chair back and forth as he speaks.  His feet stay planted, but his knees are swiping back and forth like an ADD kid.  I come to the conclusion that this nervous tick is why he’s no longer a corporate climber, and instead on an occupation flat-line where (thanks to Glassdoor.com) I know how much he earns.

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