After 12 years at PDI/Dreamworks Animation, I’m suddenly unemployed as the entire northern California studio location was nuked from orbit. At first I was in shock, and felt a void in my life where my office and coworkers once were. Luckily, I was was accepted (with no interview!) at my new office, The Coffeeshop:
Day 3- I select a coffee shop in which to settle in and search for employment. Noticing the haphazardly strewn about books, empty cups, acrylic paintings of sailboats, and occasional band flyer, I am aghast at the obvious screen tangents and visual discordance. I take a sip of my latte and loudly announce, “YES. THIS WILL DO NICELY.”
Day 5- I have begun re-dressing the layout of the coffee shop. Pulling chairs and tables in an orderly (but not too sterile) pattern, I start to OOP some of the unapproved paintings and photos from the wall. The rest of the department seems disturbed/annoyed at my choices. This may reflect poorly on their performance reviews.
Day 6- For the third day in a row I must have missed the free tater tots and eggs available at the coffee shop counter. As I reached for a suspicious looking donut, the barista asked me for some sort of “money” in exchange. Confused, I went back to my makeshift desk, filed a P1 Jira on a napkin, and slid it under the restroom door.
Day 9- So excited for my kid’s first Take Your Kid to Work Day! We arrived bright and early at The Coffeeshop (what a cool name for a studio, right?) wearing our matching shirts. We checked in with the barista, who did a good job at pretending he didn’t know what was happening. There was no set activity schedule, so I told Emmett to just spend 30 minutes with each person and make sure to ask lots of questions! Except for Nancy there in the corner. Stay away from Nancy. Just trust me.
Day 10- While waiting for the production designer to arrive and review my shot (DJ! late as usual, you rascal), the door opened and in walked 3 men in formal business attire. “Suits,” I whispered to the team, “Look out, guys, corporate is on the floor.” “Illuminatiiiiiii”, hissed Stabby Frank, stuffing sugar packets into his beard. I watched closely as the suits took their cappuccinos and left. Maybe Stabby Frank was on to something.
Day 11- Hoping to do a bit of team building, I decided to bring in my own cd’s to play over the Coffeeshop speakers. Sensing some resistance from the barista/manager, I utilized my invaluable Change Management training in an effort to get her to change the music from what I’m guessing is a concept album about a junkyard on fire to Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. Unfortunately, I must have failed to inspire the active sponsorship for the change at a senior executive level within the organization, because I still do not hear the soothing sounds of Paul Simon.
Day 12- While searching through a job hunting website, I am intrigued by a listing for what appears to be a creative ad writing position for the nation of Micronesia. One of the fields on the application states: “In 150 characters or less, tell us something interesting about yourself! Say something that will catch our eye!” My response: “I am afraid of heights, snakes, and clowns. My ultimate fear is a clown throwing snakes at me while I’m on a ladder.” Your move, Micronesia.
Day 12 Supplemental- Hell is trying to find nice plain white printer paper at an understocked Kinkos.
Day 13- I think the barista/PM is eyeing me for a promotion! She seems pretty impressed that I pointed all those visitors to the stir sticks and 2%.
Day 14- I’m wondering if I made a mistake in putting “All offers must be submitted to me in form of an Edible Arrangement bouquet” on my job applications…
Day 17- Please don’t tell my bosses at The Coffeeshop that I’m attending an offsite job fair. I wouldn’t want things to get awkward.
Day 18- My coworkers at The Coffeeshop are really enjoying my fun side project of writing a smash hit Silicon Valley country song, “Angel, Investor, Won’t You Invest A Little In My Heart?”
Day 19- Using up another one of my 10 allotted sick days from The Coffeeshop, I decided to go on a nice hike in the woods with my wife. Utilizing the muscles gained from sitting motionless at a desk for 12 years, I ascend the hill overlooking the Bay Area and marvel at the view. While retching up a nutritious LÄRABAR® (Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie flavor, perfect for a hike!), I pause and think, “What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful thing it is to be outdoors.”
Day 20- After a couple weeks sitting at my desk here at The Coffeeshop, I’ve started developing some slight lower back and arm aches. Admittedly, building my cubicle out of a threadbare (what appears to have once been velveteen) couch, a wooden bench, and several stacks of 6 month old Real Estate News magazines may not have been the wisest choice. I decide to request a full ergonomic evaluation from the office manager/barista. I take her somewhat surly response as her way of saying that I’m free to take a standing desk option, preferably outside.
Day 21- I’m having a slightly more difficult time than usual submitting my timesheet to DW Passport…
Day 23 -A couple young people entered The Coffeeshop this morning, looking a bit nervous. Seeing as how I’ve been unable to locate the Outreach department so far, I took it upon myself to greet the new interns warmly, giving them a brief but informative tour of the first/only floor. I then handed them a stack of sequence bid reports and asked them to make me 18 copies. While I understand the jitters that come with the exciting first day of an internship, I was a little surprised by the way they quickly excused themselves and went back outside. “Kids these days, huh?”, I muttered to Stabby Frank. “The government!”, he replied. Stabby Frank always understands.
Day 24- Receiving some valuable interdepartmental cross training at The Carwash. My resume can now be updated to reflect such skills as “vacuuming up one million Goldfish crackers” and “Lego policeman recovery 101”.
Day 25- While I’m overjoyed at the news that so many of my friends are finding employment at other studios so quickly, I am a bit saddened to know that they won’t be joining me here at The Coffeeshop. Donuts are half off today! PS- don’t eat the donuts. They are not a bargain at any price, and the fitness program here is severely lacking.
Day 27- While conducting dailies in the screening room/lids and sugar area of the Coffeeshop, I witnessed Sketchbook Sandy and Scary Nancy looking at a picture of a striped dress and engaging in a lengthy discussion about the color they perceived. That was the last straw. I’m going have to let Sandy go. These distractions have become too much, and honestly, she’s the worst TD we have. (also, the dress is clearly white and gold.)
Day 31- I may need to notify HR to have a little chat with Steve. We have very clear guidelines about the difference between “at home pajamas” and “at The Coffeeshop pajamas.”
Day 32- Nobody at The Coffeeshop seems to want to take me up on my “Let’s have lunch out!” offer. I mean, come on. Staying here and eating the not-free scones is just The Man’s way of keeping us here working on… whatever we work on, right through lunchtime.
Day 35- I like to tell people I’m not unemployed, I’m just doing my best to remain carbon neutral.
Day 36- “I’ll show them. I’ll show them all! Someday they’ll be sorry that they let go of ol’ Newlin,” the pajamaed man muttered as he ate a freezer burned It’s-It and rewrote his resume for the 17th time.
Day 37- While looking through various job hunting websites, the position I seem most qualified for is “intern”. In a completely non-related question, does anyone have some sort of mystical body-swapping amulet/crystal skull or forbidden scientific device? Asking for a friend.
Day 38 – After attending the final farewell party at PDI and seeing the people I called my coworkers, friends, and mentors for what probably will be the last time, I wondered if the people at The Coffeeshop could ever truly replace them. “Why can’t you be more like Dave Murphy!?” I yelled at Bluetooth Earpiece Bob. “Yeah! Why can’t you be more like Dave Smurfy?” repeated Stabby Frank, sliding newspapers down his pants. You’re always there for me, Stabby Frank.
Day 39- I guess I’ve been here at The Coffeeshop long enough to take on the responsibility of mentoring a new employee. A fresh faced young man came in today with laptop in hand and that sort of hopeful gleam in his eye that I, myself, had way back about 8 weeks ago. I immediately decided that I would take him under my wing and show him the ropes. “Don’t sit there. Scary Nancy does not like when people sit in her chair,” I whispered “That’s enough for today, kid.”
Day 43- I had assumed that the jar full of money on the Coffeeshop counter that I kept contributing to was part of the 401K plan here. Apparently, according to the barista/manager and this nice police officer, I was mistaken.
Day 44- Took a trip to one of the fancier field offices to do some cross site training. While I do appreciate the superior coffee and selection of (not free!) snacks, I sort of miss the constant threat of catching bedbugs from the “vintage” sofas.
Day 80- Receiving a rejection email from a company you applied to months ago is like getting a birthday card from a girl who dumped you right before the prom. NOT THAT IT HAPPENED TO ME OR ANYTHING SHUT UP DON’T LOOK AT ME.
Day 127- Checked out a new Coffeeshop branch office to try and decide where I was going to spend my days from now on. Upon entering, I noted the stark, minimalist approach to decor this particular branch used as a design aesthetic. Stark white walls, pristine and hygienic tables, and, most oddly, every single customer/employee was basically an identical willowy young woman wearing thick black rimmed eyeglasses, typing silently away at identical Macbook laptops. Disheartened, I left and started walking back to my truck. It just didn’t feel like home. “Home is where your pants is, aaaack ptoooey,” a voice whispered softly. “Stabby Frank?” I wondered. It’s like I could almost hear him in my mind, in my heart, reassuring me. “Yesh?” he replied, rising up from behind the dumpster. Hurrying to my truck and quickly rolling up the windows before Stabby Frank lived up to his nickname, I smiled. Everything was going to be just fine.