The Worst Meeting Ever: Part 2

(A First Class Ticket on the Karma Train)

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Uncomfortable.

Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
From top to bottom, that's what this client meeting was. It was one of those days where youthful optimism was smashed by one of the most out of touch, rude and crass people I have ever met.

A little background. This client owned a restaurant that was doing fairly well since its opening. Everything was stacked in its favor: good reviews, a fun, neighborhood feel, delicious food. What made it even more appealing was the fact that it was actively part of the radio-advertising community. It was, by all accounts, a lovefest.

I accompanied two young account reps on this journey. In our prep meeting the day before, they mentioned that the marketing director was the owner's son. "Cool," I thought, "this will be fun." The son was also responsible for spending a fairly decent amount of money, so we felt good about everything. One small issue, though: the father/owner would be there. No problem, been there before.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

We all walked in very chipper with a bounce to our steps and smiles on our faces. The only thing that would have made this more perfect would have been the theme from "Rocky" accompanying us as we entered. The son sat alone at a large booth with a look on his face that indicated he had just watched a Pauly Shore movie or we were all in for something very bad. We remained optimistic. Until dad walked over.

I was taught that one should give a firm handshake with good eye contact (also known as a "performance bonus" in some places) when meeting people for the first time. We got neither. This large, imposing man plopped into a seat, gave an inappropriately large sigh and looked at the ceiling. He then began to size us up. We went through the perfunctory introductions and backgrounds and then, the nightmare began.

"Now, let me explain to you about advertising," he began. It was probably a bad idea to bring my computer to take notes, because there would be no notes of note. "What you're doing is intrusive," he bellowed as he stabbed the air with his index finger. "All advertising is intrusive. And I don't want to be intrusive."

His mobile phone rang and he didn't think twice about answering. He also didn't think twice about talking on the phone as though we weren't there. The only redeeming thing about all of this was that he pulled out one of those huge old-school phones that made him look like an utter tool. We all stared at each other in disbelief. This was not going well.

He got off the phone and, without any apology, continued to grill us. Out of desperation, one of the reps chimed in and mentioned I had won a bunch of awards. I frantically tried to wave him off before he finished his sentence. I felt like John Larroquette in the final scene of Stripes. (It's a vague reference, but watch the movie and you'll see what I mean.) The owner then put up his hand towards my face, palm out, and said he didn't really care about any of that and continued his assault. I went Phillies-red with that little move.

His phone rang again. This time, he had the "courtesy" to get up and talk elsewhere. His son got up to get us water. By that point, I would have preferred a pint of deck stain. The fun continued until he closed the "meeting" by declaring that his new advertising "strategy" would consist of handing out flyers outside the arena after Trail Blazers games because it wasn't "intrusive." Sure, everyone likes to get a piece of paper thrust in their face by a complete stranger. Brilliant.

The drive back to the office was very quiet. I broke the awkward silence by saying, "What the f**k just happened?"

About a year later, I asked one of the reps whatever became of those guys. With a satisfied smile, she said that the restaurant went out of business and the owner had fallen on legal troubles.

Now that's intrusive. And sweet, sweet justice.
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