Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Job… New Semester… Newt Gingrich

I have nothing to say about Newt Gingrich other than the obvious: is he going to run, how’s his hair these days, and will he shake-up the Republican primary?

Moving on…

I’m thrilled to report that I’ve begun a new job at a dynamic Danish TV development company. It’s nestled within a larger reklamebureau (or “advertising agency”) and has developed several credible programs for Danish TV (such as Laudrup Høgh and 2900 Happiness). Thus far, I couldn’t be more content, challenged or inspired in this new position. My title (in Danish) is Projekt Assistant. If you translate that into English, it means: high-ranking person. The K in projekt is a legitimizing letter outside the English language, lending instant credibility. I fall somewhere below the CEO in the chain-of-command (how far below doesn't really matter) .

This job is a striking departure from my activities at university this past year in Denmark. And it’s only mildly, hugely different from the position I held in the Governor’s office. Where my title had “Senior” and “Executive” in it. I know it’s ghastly arrogant (and pathetically wistful) of me to mention that point, but I do so only to make a larger one. A former hang-up on things like title, position and ‘career path’ has been called into question in the week+ that I’ve been a member of the Danish workforce. That is because the Danish office is constructed much more laterally, as opposed to the rigid hierarchies you’ll find in the US or the UK. Assistants will often share the same office as their superiors, and bosses will fetch their own coffee. In Denmark, its okay, even encouraged, to question those in authority. I still find that point quite strange, the fact that... those under me, like my stapler, can snap at me.

It feels like a homecoming, of sorts, back to my creative roots in television. This time around, my “first days” have been no less memorable than when I began in Hollywood, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, out of UCLA's film school. At Fox, my first day saw me tipping too far back in my squeaky office chair, and falling on my derriere – legs splayed – staring at the fax machine I had been instructed to watch. At the Paramount lot, on my first day at Roswell I got to zip around the studio in a golf cart, which was exhilarating until I rounded a corner too fast and entered the camera-shot of an actor performing a monologue on "New York” street. The actor, Al Pacino, stared back at me, daggers in his eyes matching my own shocked stare as I trembled, hiding behind the steering wheel. I was certain my ass was fired.

Somehow, I’ve managed to squeak by those first fretful days which we’ve all experienced in new jobs. Where you feel clueless, moronic and over-dressed. I told Anne Louise after my first day at CO+TV that I felt like the new kid in school. Only someone, by accident, dropped me off in China, and I don’t speak Mandarin. The language barrier has provided another intrigue angle into this struggled I’ve faced, learning the ropes. My ear must tune in to much more Danish than ever before, and at a company of 50, there are only two of us who don’t speak it fluently. Or even, not fluently.

My mother began an exciting, new job a few months ago, and she was ever the ace when I made my tearful phone call home last week. She described feeling lost, confused and hopeless when she first began her job. Her heart would race rapidly every time they asked her to work the cash register.

Even my mother, with her Mensa IQ and her illustrious medical degree, felt lost when she began her part-time gig at The Pottery Barn at Arden Fair Mall.

What a peach, my mom is. So I’m letting her words be a lesson of forgiveness for the idiotic moves I’m destined to make, like when I cheerfully asked the young CFO if he was an intern. If my mother had only known how many cocktails her once-classy daughter would throw back with her new colleagues, just days after that phone call, she would have issued a sterner pep talk.

But again, as I suggested, the "Danish office" is a liberal and open-minded place. Progressive,
if you will. And by getting drunk in their company I was making a bold statement: “I belong here.”

Or at the Betty Ford Center. I haven’t decided which one.

The fact that the “Danish Company Party” (where said drinking occurred) often ends in monster hangovers, expensive dry-cleaning bills, minor felonies, Donald Duck tattoos, jail-time and paternity tests, doesn’t make the office any less advanced.

I’ve officially been initiated into the European workforce, but I’ll write the party entry another time. Perhaps if I get bored at work.

(The other Bridget Jones. Not a mentor to young girls everywhere).


Camelia said...

Hi Camryn,

Great post. As witty as ever! Judging by the vivid narratives that office paraphernalia is able to produce, one can obviously no longer believe that work is ever boring. What particularly makes new work interesting is the fact that while machines outfox us, we outwit them. Sometimes the stapler nails you; sometimes you hem it in.

Bogaloo said...

…the hangover suited you right, the dry-cleaning bill you can pick up yourself, felonies are a matter between you and the state, Donald Duck tattoos could be a reference to my birthday so we’ll let that one pass, jail-time equals higher frequency of your blog postings - which isn’t a bad thing, but the paternity test I flatly refuse; too high a risk there Bridget ;)

As for Newt. Well, he is not exactly Newton but still the apple may drop one day!

Projekt Assistent is not to be made fun of. Cleaning ladies are no longer ladies in danish but now promoted to assistents, as in rengøringsdame -> rengøringsassistent.
So, if ever in need of a work title sounding like a Royal appointment, you may join the soon to come trend of retro-job titles and revert to being a Projekt Dame :)

Yours truly,

Kevin said...

First there was Ricky Gervais (UK), then came Steve Carell (US) and now trailblazing the Danish version of "The Office" it's Camryn Thomas starring as the Projekt Assistant to the Regional Project Manager... can't wait for the sequel.

As always, your blog is of star quality and what else to expect from the newest and brighest star in the Danish sky :)

Nis said...

What was the name of the young CFO? :)

I've been very eager to hear about your new job. It's really a wonderful break for you. But I can imagine you might also be intimidated by the challege of participating in a Danish professional scene with Danish as the primary language. I'm sure you manage to get most of your coworkers to speak English as most Danes that enjoy the English language are more than happy to exercise it. What're your thoughts on that? ;)

But anyways! I'm sure you're doing a great job out there. In a few months you'll be speaking Danish as well as the rest of us and be insisting that we stop switching back into English every time you reenter the room. :)

Talk to you soon! Take care

Camryn said...

Thanks Camelia and Nis, for your insights.

I'm outfoxed on a daily basis by my online Danish-->English translator. It is my lifesaver, though it doesn't do sarcasm.

My colleagues have been so kind and accomodating in speaking English to me always. The only thing negative I could say about Danes when it comes to speaking English is that most grossly underestimate their talent and capacity for it.

I've noticed that over-tired and/or drunk danes don't relish speaking English. Which is okay, because I'm much better at danish when I'm ever-so-tipsy. Possibly even fluent. ;)

mom said...

Cam-- You are to kind to me but you perhaps were right about the sterner advice. Donald Duck? Thought at least you might go for the Little Mermaid....? I'm sure your foray into the Danish workplace will be exciting,challenging and successful, because,as ever, you DO make us proud! Keep up with the writing and do keep us abreast of the "company jewels" love mom

Inna said...

Cam, I didn't know your mom has mensa IQ. That explains everything. Congratulations on your new job! I'm looking forward to reading more. xo, Inna

Camryn said...

Innaschka! I miss you. Thanks for the comment, & I can't wait to tell you about the new job. Wish I was still working with you ('pushing back' and firing off angry missives to coworkers nipping at our ankles). Good times we had. XO.

Sadams said...

Camryn: amazing to hear your voice message! I don't have your return info (sent an e-mail explaining). Checking your e-mail

Suzannah Scully said...

What a great blog! I'm so excited that I now have it so that I can stay posted on your adventures in Denmake. You sound so happy and in your element, I love it! Very inspiring to read.


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!