Friday, November 19, 2010

Encouraged to do impossible and/or evil things

Yesterday my boss asked me to call up an assistant in New York (that I almost never speak with) to get a number to reach a writer. I called, was pleasant and nice, and was told that this writer doesn't have an office or an assistant. Like many in the entertainment industry today, this writer didn't need those things. He was able to work from home off of his personal email and cell phone until a production office would get set up. The only possible number to reach this person on was the cell phone, which this assistant wasn't even sure she had.

In the event somebody does have a cell phone number, they REALLY aren't supposed to give that kind of thing out without prior permission. This is the kind of thing assistants get fired for easily.

So when this assistant told me that she didn't have a number she could release, I was fine with that. I thanked her for her time, and hung up.

This morning I was telling my boss that this writer was only working off a cell, and would be difficult to get in touch with. He lectures me that I need to get "better at sweet talking people to give me things."

This isn't a matter of negotiations. This is an assistant across the country that I've never met before, and never even spoken with before. She has no personal connection to me, and I have no leverage over her. I have nothing that she wants. She has nothing to gain from giving me this information, no matter how charming I am. And if she did give it to me, she could be fired.

So I'm being encouraged to do something that is either impossible or evil. Either there's no way she'll give me the number without permission no matter what I say, or I somehow come up with some way to pressure her into risking her job.

It's especially hypocritical when I'm told very often not to even give the reason we're calling someone over the phone. If I'm expected to never give out information of any kind, why should everyone I speak with give me all kinds of confidential information? No amount of flirting skills over the phone could do that.

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