Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Candygram Deliveryman

I've got this friend who is trying to expand her work in the modeling business. She is a lovely young lady with a vivacious personality that really comes through on camera. She and her photographer boyfriend got some new photos done up in a nice slick-looking portfolio and she's eager to get some more exposure here in Wichita. I don't know how difficult it is to build up a network in this industry, but apparently there is a good amount of competition even in Wichita, so getting yourself noticed is pretty tricky.

As a model, bringing your portfolio into the front lobby of a new advertising or modeling agency and handing it to the receptionist would likely get that portfolio placed into a giant stack of other portfolios that will never see the light of day. So my friend decided the best way to get to more of the head honchos around town was to hide her photos inside a candygram which could be delivered directly to each head honcho. The head honcho would dig into the candy and notice the portfolio hidden underneath. They'd be impressed with the audacity of the whole thing and would likely remember the young lady in the photos and might give her a job.

Pretty clever, huh? But the question is, where do you find a candygram deliveryman? In Wichita?

That's where I come in:

Who can make the sun shine?
I was skeptical. I figured a candygram deliveryman should be some young guy trying to work his way through college. It's a fun job but it probably doesn't pay that well, and you'd have to imagine that a guy in his 40s wouldn't really be able to make a living at it. I suppose it might be a part-time gig just for fun? Despite my concerns they insisted I was the guy to do this, and I figured it would be a good "acting" experience so why not? If I could pull this off perhaps I do have a future as a leading man in Hollywood. Or the lead monotone narrator in cat videos or something.

I had much of the outfit already, including the fake clip-on bow tie, white shirt, and black penny loafers and belt. My friends supplied the pants and hat and candygrams with the hidden photos and some of the shiniest new pennies I'd ever seen to go into the penny loafers. And you can't believe how well the pants fit! I just gave them my size, they went out and shopped around and found pants that looked WAY too big and frumpy on the hanger, but once I put them on we were all amazed at how perfectly they fit. Like they were tailored or something. I guess I'm frumpier than I thought. But yeah once we all saw how well the pants fit we all knew this was meant to be.

So my task was to march into the lobby of these various ad agencies around town and try to talk my way to hand-delivering the candygram to the big cheese of each agency. My big concern was that I'd come up against some skeptical receptionists who'd want to know more details about the "company" I worked for, what is the website of my "company", how long have we been in business, why have they not seen more candygram deliveries around town, and "I'm sorry the boss is VERY busy right now you'll have to leave it with me and I'll get it to him when he's free", etc, etc.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out the "back story" for this character I was going to play and rehearsing what I'd say in response to the judo-trained security receptionists who would tackle me and wrestle me to the ground if I tried to make a break for the boss's office, and the candygram would crash to the ground and break open spilling candy all over the floor and sitting amongst the candy would be the modeling portfolio as plain as day and the receptionist lady would would say, "Ah-HAAHH!!! YOU'RE just trying to get to the BOSS!! I'm sorry but he's VERY BUSY and we've got PLENTY of portfolios from all SORTS of models tying to break into our business!! What do you think you're trying to do here, mister? Just 'cause you've got candy and a balloon you think you can just go right up to the BIG KAHUNA and pull a fast one?? I don't THINK so!!!" She'd wrap my arms and legs in duct tape and then I'd end up in jail for trespassing AND I'd be wearing a candygram delivery outfit in jail.

It turns out the outfit worked perfectly and everyone was happy to show me straight to the boss without question. There was none of the interrogation that I anticipated and really, it was remarkable how willingly everyone took me straight to the lady or man in charge. Just walk in with a smile and they smile back and all the defenses are instantly down. I mean, you could rob a bank with this outfit. At least once before word got out that some nut in a candygram outfit was robbing banks. You could hand out lollipops as you walked out the door with your pile of stolen cash so it would be fun, too.

I can't honestly say that ALL of the big-wigs-in-charge were 100% happy to see me. One guy was pretty serious and was very busy and he was sitting at the head of the room full of all his ad agency worker-bees and it was VERY serious and everyone was HARD at work at their computer:

Receptionist Girl: (talking to the boss) "There's somebody here to give you a candygram."
Boss: "What? What are you talking about?"
Receptionist Girl: (pointing back to me at the other end of the room) "I'm serious."
Boss: (looking over at me - probably thinking I'm a stripper or something) "I don't have time for this."

I could hear this dialogue from across the room, and sensing that I was about to get turned away I figured I'd better just make the candy hit and run so:

Me: (Walking across the room to approach the boss) "...I understand you're a busy man and this won't take more than a minute. Somebody would like to sweeten your day with a candygram from the 'Something Sweet Candygram Delivery Service'. Enjoy and have a lovely day." (hand off the goods, tip of the hat, turn and exit)

As I handed off the box of candy the look of irritation on the Boss's face melted into a smile, and at that point everyone in the room relaxed and smiled as well. I suppose the guy was relieved that I didn't: 1) Strip 2) Sing and Dance 3) Take more than a minute of his time.

One thing that struck me was how cool and groovy these ad agencies were. Nothing like engineering cubicles where I work, and one place even had a swoopy-slide or a fun-slide or whatever you want to call it for getting from upstairs to downstairs. You know you're at a groovy place if they have a swoopy-slide! And wouldn't you know it the boss was upstairs so after handing off the goods (and posing for pictures) I got to go down the slide. You can't be the happy-fun candygram delivery man who just posed for pictures with the boss with candy and a balloon and NOT go down the fun slide!

All told I think we made six or seven hits that morning. I was a bit nervous at first but the last ones were pretty easy. I was really getting into my "role" and having lots of fun towards the end. We went for burgers after it was all done.

Arriving back at the house we wondered what to do with the extra candy and the spare balloon. If you have some sort of production that involves balloons you want to get at least one extra for a spare because they're fragile. I'm pretty careful around balloons so we didn't have to use the spare and we had almost enough candy for one more candygram, but what would we do with a spare candygram? I still had the outfit on and it just seemed like I needed to take advantage of the opportunity to deliver a candygram to... someone...

Part 2:

Quite a few years ago I started hanging out in a small coffee shop where I got to know a few of the other regulars. Somehow I acquired the nickname "St. Paul" from another regular named Eldon. I thought his name sounded like a character out of "Lord of the Rings" so I dubbed him "Lord Eldon." Another regular is Dianne who is married to an engineer named Darryl. Dianne tends to bring in food from other nearby shops, which is somewhat irritating to the coffee shop owner, but Dianne also brings her grand kids in for cookies and snacks at the coffee shop so he can't really complain too much. Anyway Dianne is always generous with the food she brings as well as inviting many of us over for dinners at her house, so she is "Lady Dianne the Bountiful." She also likes to visit at the coffee shop and will do so often long after her husband Darryl is talked out and ready to leave. He never tries to cut the visitation short and just waits while "Lady Dianne the Bountiful" gets all her talking done, so he is "Darryl the Patient."

Not only is "Lady Dianne the Bountiful" generous with food and hospitality, but she is also quite the would-be match-maker. Shopping at a fancy department store at the local mall one day, she was so impressed with a vivacious and bubbly sales associate young lady named Erin (not her real name) that she decided I should meet Erin and try to get a date. "Lady Dianne the Bountiful" suggest that I go to the store pretending to be looking for something for my Mom for a birthday or Christmas present all the while REALLY being there for the purpose of getting a date with Erin.

So when I found myself in a Candygram Delivery outfit and spare balloon and almost enough candy for one more candygram, I decided I would go to the mall and seek out Erin at the big fancy department  store and deliver unto her a candygram from the "Something Sweet Candygram Delivery Service" and ask her out on a date. We were a little short of candy so I made a quick trip to a local grocery store to get more candy. Not wanting to waste any time I just kept the outfit on and went to the store. One lady did come up to me as I was waiting at the self-checkout to ask about the outfit:

Lady: (smiling) "I have to ask you. Why are you dressed in this white outfit?"
Me "I'm a candygram deliveryman!"
Lady: (with big eyes) "Really?!!"
Me: "Well, no not really. I'm just doing a few candygrams for a friend. I'm really just an engineer."
Lady: (still smiling) "Oh I see."
Me: "But I do make cat videos on YouTube."
Lady: "You make what?"
Me: "I make videos with my cats and put them on the internet."
Lady: (now looking uncomfortable) "I don't know what you're talking about." (quickly leaves)

Back at the house we got the last candygram put together, tied on the balloon, and I was on my way to the big fancy department store at the mall to seek out a date with "Erin". I walked into the store in my fancy outfit with candygram and balloon, went up to the first service desk I found, and asked where I might find "Erin." Turns out there are at least three "Erins" who work at the big fancy department store so I had to call "Lady Dianne the Bountiful" to ask about the correct department in the big fancy department store, and when I couldn't reach "Lady Dianne the Bountiful" I had to call "Darryl the Patient" and get the phone number for their daughter who was also with "Lady Dianne the Bountiful" the day she met "Erin" at the big fancy department store at the mall.

Having determined the correct department where I would find "Erin" from the daughter of "Lady Dianne the Bountiful", I made my way with a small collection of other curious employees to find her. By this time word had gotten 'round about this guy in a candygram outfit who was looking for "Erin" and she just about spotted me before I saw her. This whole time I'd prepared this speech in my head about "how she had so impressed my friend who had been shopping at the big fancy department store and on behalf of my friend and myself I would like to present you with this candygram from the 'Something Sweet Candygram Delivery Service' and by the way I'm not REALLY a candygram delivery guy but I'm an engineer at Spirit Aerosystems but I also make cat videos on YouTube with my buddy TJ and my cats and I also like other things like swing dancing and in fact I would be dancing with our dance group later that evening at a book signing to entertain the crowd while they were waiting for Kirsty Alley to sign their book and if she wanted to come on out to the book signing I'd dance with her if she wanted..." and at some point I'd ask her out on a date.

So I walked up to "Erin" and it went something like this:

Me: "Hi I'm..."
Erin: (bubbly) "You're the cat guy on YouTube!"
Me: "Yes I am, but today I'm a candygra.."
Erin: (bubbly) "And you work at Spirit as an Engineer!"
Me: "yes"
Erin: (bubblier) "And you're into swing dancing!"
Me: (pause) "...how do you know all this?"
Erin: (super-bubbly) "Oh I've been stalking you."
Me: "I see..."
Erin: "Not really. My brother-in-law works at Spirit and he found out about you and showed us your videos and he thought it was cool that you work at the same company where he works and so that's how I know you work at Spirit. And then one day I recognized you from the videos when you were out dancing with a group somewhere here in town."
Me: (relieved) "Oh, ok."

I couldn't believe it. I'd rehearsed this whole line of dialogue and "Erin" totally stole my thunder. Yanked the rug right out from under me. Pulled a bait and switch. Took the needle right out of the haystack before I even started looking. I lead the horse to water and it started drinking before I could even tell the horse to drink.

But the rest of the conversation went very well, and I'll have to give credit to "Lady Dianne the Bountiful" for picking a lovely lady for me to ask out, and I did eventually explain to "Erin" that my real intention was to give her my phone number and try to get her to join me for dinner or coffee or dancing at Kirstie Allie's book signing later that night. She said she would have to think about it since she was, sort of... at the moment, she couldn't really... , she was in a situation and it was like..., etc. etc.

So many months later and I've not heard from "Erin" (she didn't make it to Kirstee Allee's book signing) but I figured it was a long shot, anyway. I wasn't sure how I'd be received wearing a candygram outfit, but really how often do you get an opportunity to try something like that, and what more could a guy do to get a date? At the very least "Erin" got to enjoy some yummy candy and has a good story to tell. My friend got a few calls from some of the ad agencies so the candygram delivery bit actually worked, and if I ever want to rob a bank I've got one good idea for how to do it. Plus I got a really great fitting pair of white pants. You shouldn't cry over spilled milk but if you spill it on white pants you can't even see it 'cause they're both white.