This time last year, I was either hiding out in my cubicle with a good book or walking aimlessly through downtown Louisville, desperate to find activities to fill the last “work” day of Derby week and give myself something to do while the sales people got plastered at Churchill Downs, ran about the city for remotes (live, on location broadcasts), or got their hair done.
Few people in sales and advertising (and many other professions) work during Derby week in Louisville. The Kentucky Derby is the first Saturday in May, and the week leading up to it is filled with festivities, like galas, parades, boat races, concerts, and for ad professionals, a day or two to network (read drink or have fun) with other ad professionals at the famous track. The sales office of radio stations, at least the ones that play pop and/or urban music, tend to be slammed one to two weeks before the big week, with concert and event promoters all vying for ad space. By the big week, the sales staff has done its dirt, and the ads are running, so there’s little reason to stay in an empty office, unless you just like quiet. Yesterday was the first time in a while I tuned in to one of my former employer’s stations long enough to actually hear several commercial breaks, and all the ads were about Derby events.
Last year, I went to a “Taste of” event, a comedy show and two celebrity-hosted parties. Free tickets were a blessing, but I’m not hurt this year. I was stuffed from the food at the “Taste of” event, but as for the comedy show? Well, some people are better in movies than they are at stand-up. I also found the parties overrated; unless you were among the boldest females, the people most willing to flaunt or fake their wealth with VIP tickets, or the press, there were few opportunities to even see the well-promoted celebrities, and forget about socializing with them.
Needless to say, I wasn’t about to pay for any of those events this year. My big Derby plans were to maybe attend a barbecue on Saturday and to otherwise hibernate and prepare for the coming week of résumé rewriting, job applications, theater auditions, and unpaid special projects that may help me in the future. Then a friend changed my plans by recruiting me for one such project. It wasn’t exactly unpaid; I got to attend the 100 Black Men of Louisville 18th Annual Pre-Derby Gala last night in exchange for writing about the event, with the words to be read in a national publication.
I enjoyed myself, and I’m learning that free tickets are still possible in exchange for some hard work. Still, I noticed some differences between this year and last year, aside from actually having a good time. The first difference was in my shopping budget; since there isn’t one, I reached out to friends and relatives who are around my size and asked if I could recycle some of their past gala gowns. One found a dress that worked (and she didn’t even know it was in one of my favorite colors), and I always keep formal shoes on hand and own plenty of accessories, so I was set for the night without being financially set back. The stars kind of aligned for my hair too; the President’s generous stimulus check for the unemployed arrived in time to stimulate my beautician’s pocket. (I say kind of because I can’t help but feel a little guilty about it, but if you had seen my hair the night before … ooooh …) I tweezed my own eyebrows, had a coupon for a new shade of lipstick, and thankfully, the party went so late the garage parking was free.
The other difference was in my ability to walk and stand in high heels. I might have worn heels that weren’t boots twice
in the fall and winter; why bother with the pain when you don’t even have to wear them to work? I haven’t even brought the summer stilettos over from my old closets in my mother’s house yet. My feet could’ve used the calluses I sheared off just hours before stepping into the rhinestone heels, and my balance really should’ve gone through a refresher course a few days earlier.
© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.