Allow me my soapbox

Today is the first day of my last week of work (for now). I stumbled into this job when I decided to move to San Diego from Bakersfield (obviously an improvement…sorry Mom!). I put out some emails to Kenyon College alumni, and l received a response from Brian (class of ‘80-something), who at the time was president of a small biotech company. I jumped at the chance to work for him, and off I went to San Diego!

I never imagined myself working in this field. In fact, over the years I have developed what I consider to be a healthy skepticism surrounding the pharmaceutical companies and the FDA. I have given up my artificial hormones and use Dr. Bronner’s soap. I am a bit of a hippie (although I try to hide this by adding a little polish to my nails and stepping into heels once in awhile). So while I am not the most biotech-savvy employee, I have learned an incredible amount about the business world, about sales, and about customer service. All of these skills are going to serve me well throughout my life, whether I wind up a starving artist or an adept saleswoman.

There are some additional life lessons I will be taking home with me on Friday. I know that I will never enjoy working for a large corporation, where the bottom line is valued above all else. I know that I prefer a casual working environment (especially one where flip flops are allowed). I know that I can sell anything effectively, but I prefer to sell things I make with my own two hands. This weekend Andrew and I sold some refurbished wine barrels that we were going to use as planters before we decided to get on the road. I can’t describe the euphoria I feel knowing something we created will be used in someone else’s home and garden. Not to mention the joy of my first profit!

I can’t come up with a good segue for this topic, but it’s in my head so out it comes: Last night Andrew was watching a video on the computer and I overheard this statistic: Americans are exposed to around 3,000 advertisements in a single day. I don’t know if this is entirely accurate, but I can’t imagine it’s far from the truth. I assume I personally view less, since I don’t have a television. Although just browsing the internet alone provides enough advertising to blow my mind. When we watch episodes of Weeds on Netflix (commercial free), we are quick to notice the product placement. Did you know that every scene in a bar or involving beer includes Stone Brewery products?

And while I’m on my hippie soapbox: PARENTS. Please stop giving your kids and/or infants your iphones and portable gameboy thingamajigs. At restaurants. In the airport. In the car. On a walk. At the zoo. I don’t understand this. Granted, I don’t have children of my own, but I can’t imagine it does their brains any good to disconnect from the world around them to focus on some moving pixels. Rather than learning social cues and facial expressions, they learn to push buttons in the correct sequence and develop brand awareness. Sure, it keeps them quiet and sometimes I understand parents desperately need any help they can get. But I am worried about the long-term effects, about cancer, autism, ADD, and about all the medications marketed for these ailments (see, back full-circle to pharmaceuticals!).

This last week of work will prove to be introspective, as I have plenty of free time to think about my life, where I’ve been and where I am headed. I am looking forward to disconnecting a little bit on the road, enjoying the splendour of the natural world, and then sharing it with all of you via the internet. Thus a healthy level of skepticism is perfectly balanced with a healthy dose of hypocrisy. But at least I don’t advertise on my blog (yet…).

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4 thoughts on “Allow me my soapbox

  1. I love the way your mind works, Micha…and yes to not giving children DVD players in the car while traveling…much better to play the license plate game or sing songs or just look out the window and talk about what you see. I too worry about a generation of children who are screen-bound and not developing eye-to-eye social skills.

  2. I love reading your blog! I also love the fact that we are one of the first stops on your trip. Love you and can’t wait to see you.

  3. I have noticed a lack of television commercials here. The shows only last 20 minutes. They either start early or fill in with a comedy bit. No billboards either, even on the buses and trains. It is nice…..

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