There’s a scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway, as the newbie assistant to big-time fashion magazine editor Meryl Streep, is taking notes during a meeting and all the fashionistas and gurus are trying to decide what outfits will be used in the newest issue. One of the other assistants holds up two nearly identical belts (as far as I can tell from watching the movie, the only difference is slightly varied buckles) and cries, ‘Ooh, I don’t know – they’re so similar!’ Anne Hathaway’s immediate response is a bewildered chuckle (as in ‘Oh! That was a good joke’) and everyone in the room stops. And Meryl Streep continues to calmly give a bone-chilling, insert-foot-in-mouth speech about how Anne Hathaway’s character has NO CLUE about this industry and doesn’t appreciate how it impacts her life.
So… my situation wasn’t that bad. It actually wasn’t bad at all. It went rather well, in fact.
My boss invited me in his office to discuss a marketing project I was working on, and we started talking, but then he stopped suddenly as if just remembering something and smacked two absolutely identical books down in front of me.
‘Here – just feel these and tell me which one you like better’, he said.
‘Oh, erm, um, ok’. Highly wary of such tests, I took each book, flipped through the pages, felt the cover, wracking my brains thinking, ‘What am I looking for?!’ There were slight differences (or maybe my desperation to find differences tricked me into believing they were there), so I picked one the one whose hardback cover felt a little thinner and whose pages were a bit silkier to the touch (at least – I think they were).
‘I like that one’, I said.
‘Do you?’ he asked. Ahhhh stomach-twisting anxiety. I picked the wrong one!
‘Oh, that’s interesting’, he continued. ‘Yes, I like that one, too. This other one’s a little nicer with the rubbery finish on the cover and the binding is glued in such-and-such a way… but I think this one is fine, too. Thanks’.
And that was that.
I guess the lesson I learned here was that when a publishing house writes in a job description that they want someone with an eye for detail, they mean: someone who does not let ANYTHING pass them by. It’s a good lesson to learn now, and I’m definitely trying to look at the text and the books with a more critical eye.