Sunday, February 18, 2024

Smoking in Spokane

Read Time: 1.5 minutes

A client told me this the other day (details changed to protect my client’s privacy). It struck me as classic.

Sometimes, you gotta go with the flow.

After ten years in Dallas, my wife applied and got accepted into the master’s program of her dreams at Washington State University.

I’m in advertising. Spokane is the closest city big enough to have an advertising community, and I applied to the three biggest agencies there.

It’d be an hour and a half commute, but we need my income to make it work.

Rejected from the two bigger ones, the owner of the third said he’d fly me up for an interview.

At the end of our conversation, he revealed what he meant about flying me up with, “Tom, I’d like you to have a little skin in the game. So, I’ll advance you half the fare for a coach seat and reimburse the other half if we make a deal. How’s that sound?”

Desperate for the gig, I agreed.

That little transaction set the tone for our relationship.

I booked a room at Spokane’s Motel Six, and I caught the next flight out. He asked me to meet him at a bar in the local casino for dinner and drinks the evening I arrived.

Dinner turned into a night of drinking, smoking, and stories of Mad Man like triumphs in the ad biz.

The following day, we met at his office, where he offered me the job. I took it. We shook hands, I signed, he smiled, offered me a cigarette, and I said, “I don’t smoke.”

Surprised, “But last night…”

I smiled in reply, “This is advertising; we’re all liars.”

I worked there the two years and watched as he drank the business into foreclosure.


  • Ellen says:

    Good story, Great drawing.

  • tyler says:

    I really enjoy your posts Ted. The “Spokane Story” reminded me of my first day as a copywriter at a booming ad agency in Belltown. They were cramming people into every nook and cranny in an old, brick building. My office was simply a desk jammed up against the window at the end of a hallway. My first day there, when the CD who hired me introduced me to one of the principals, he just scowled and said, “At least he won’t have far to jump.” That statement set the tone for my tenure there.

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