Day 10 – other people

10 02 2010

Welcome to our club James - come on in...

After feeling a bit like I was being swallowed up by the tide yesterday, a good night’s sleep has left me feeling a little cheerier.

As I walked in this morning I started to think about other people who obey the rules. On my many halts at red lights, there are sometimes people who don’t dash across and do wait for the signal. Same with cyclists at zebra crossings. They’ll have loads of room to get past safely but they stop anyway. Safe in the knowledge that no one else is going to be doing a project this sad, I began to wonder who they were. Is there some kind of secret rule obeying society who’s members are watching closely to see if I complete the month before inducting me into their clean, well ventilated and suitably served with fire exits hall of fame?

Earlier today I began to realise that these people were all women. In fact they were all middle aged women. None of them seemed to be unhappy, frustrated or stressed. They didn’t feel the need to draw attention to it, they just obeyed the rules. Maybe they all ran wild in the 60s scarfing down hallucinogens and now they’re trying to right the scales. Nobody can know but it actually made me feel good. The idea that I’m not alone, that there are plenty of other people quite happy to play by the book.

Musing on this thought at the office I started to think about the industry I work in. Much as it will surprise people (ad agencies generally come somewhere near estate agents in the trust stakes) it’s actually really difficult to break the rules in advertising. The approval structure we work to for TV ads is often ludicrously over-protective and the bureaucratic pain involved in responding to and managing complaints once an ad is out there certainly provide the incentive to be good.

A regular complaint is that these rules stifle innovation and creativity. I’m kind of half in that camp but often, having a set of tightly defined boundaries encourages people to interpret things differently and stimulates creativity. On the other hand most of my work is in innovation and I see many big organisations pissing away millions because they follow the accepted rules rather than what common sense tells them to do.

Whatever the case it’s becoming more and more apparent to me as the project goes on that it’s not about the rules being there, it’s about seeing people behaving in accordance with them that makes the difference. It’s about feeling like we fit in. So I thank you middle aged ladies at the traffic lights, you’ve made me feel like I’m not such a freak after all.


Weight 13st 13lb

Body fat 19.8%

Frustration – 5

Infractions – 6.5 (2 suspended)

Wellbeing – 7 (a jump up – maybe it’s the glimmer of the half way mark)

No new rules today but a colleague is threatening to dig out some guidelines he found on local sourcing which could properly fuck things up.

Fascinating aside. As I finished this post I just went on google images to find a pic to go with it and searched for ‘middle aged women’. The results all looked like characters from American soap operas. Glitzy, well dressed and with facelift chic taut eyes and immovable clown smiles. Why doesn’t Google know from my IP address that I need dowdy, frumpy women with carrier bags and flat shoes?




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: