People who knew me in the 1980s and 1990s have delighted in the similarities between the young Gal and Peggy Olsen of Mad Men
. I see it, too, of course. We both:
• Came up through the secretarial pool to become copywriters
• Were frequently hindered by lack of formal education
• Slept with wildly inappropriate coworkers
• Got where we wanted to go professionally in spite of our idiosyncratic work habits
I was a creative director until I quit and decided to work my way down the corporate ladder. I am proud to say that was my choice. I have never been laid off -- rare in this industry -- though God knows there's still time. I have won a Clio, an Echo and a Tempo.
I have found my career both exhilarating and disappointing, both more and less than I dreamed it would be.
And, I suppose, I had a Don Draper. He was not breathtakingly handsome (though he's always had a wonderful head of hair) and, frankly, I ended up surpassing him.
But that's only because he taught me.
I'd been in the industry a decade by then, still painfully aware of my lack of formal training. I was operating on instinct, not craft. For some reason, my bosses to that point were reluctant to give me any real help with my writing. For example, I had a job for a major catalog house for five years and at the end of my tenure still didn't know what made one page "better" than another. I was rather successful as a writer for a major haircare company, doing product packaging, but any guidance I got was from R&D and the marketing department, not the creative director.
All my supervisors used to tell me was which ass to kiss. I also got stern warnings about my smart mouth and party girl proclivities. But, no matter how I worded the questions, I didn't get any help about my writing.
Somehow, perhaps by the dint of my stubbornness, I still moved along and got better jobs.
Then I met Ed. He taught me craft
. The rules of the road. The tried-and-true tricks. I had another very good boss a few years later (my friend Barb) but he was the first supervisor to bother, to pay attention, to hear what I was asking and to give me what I needed, and I've always been enormously grateful.
He's also one who never tired of pointing out the Gal/Peggy similarities in Mad Men.
So when the last episode aired, I posted this to Facebook:
It isn't just that Don is hot (though God knows he is), it's that he was
such a careful and successful mentor to Peggy. When I first made the
quantum leap from secretary to copywriter, all my bosses discussed with
me was office politics. I was ten years in before a Creative Director
finally gave me craft to augment my instincts. If I haven't said it
already: THANK YOU, ED.
Ed, who has been unemployed for so long now that people assume he's retired
, messaged back that my post made him cry. He's very proud of my success and so pleased that I have been so "generous" in giving him credit.
Sometimes social media is a good thing. Ed's family has been beset by setbacks: he lost his job, he faced down cancer, his daughter was stricken by leukemia and now, while in remission, has embarked on a very high risk pregnancy.
I'm glad I was able to give him such a public shout out. I'm glad it meant to much to him.