Monday, 23 June 2008

Selective hearing

Her name was Carole, she was a straight talking, middle aged journalist turned college tutor, with frizzy blond hair and selective hearing. She was not the tutor named along with the course title and description online, but having had the foresight to ring and check this detail before booking, I wasn't as surprised as another attendee. She, quite rightly, had expected two days of training with a "highly respected journalist and trainer, an award-winning film and TV critic who was the first national, mid-market critic to be elected to the prestigious International Federation of Film Juries". Instead, we got Carole. 25 years experience. Credentials: unknown.

We were asked to introduce ourselves, so one by one the seven of us gave the basics; name, age, occupation, and I was first. This was a good thing, as Carole fiddled with the projector with her back to us from the second person onwards, so one would assume I had her full attention as I relayed the facts. My name is Jo, I'm 23 and currently unemployed. I was working at the Broadcasting Company from January until the end of May on That Programme, but when the series ended I didn't want to pursue a TV career. So here I am. (Awkward smile)

"Joanne...what's your surname? It's the only one that doesn't seem to be on my sheet..."
"Strange, I don't know where it got to. I even emailed them it yesterday! Well actually it's Joanna, or I prefer Jo, and my surname's -------."
"Ok, that's great."

No doubt about it, Carole knew her stuff and we learnt a lot. Her stuff, however, was fired out at 200 words per second and punctuated by fairly challenging questions. Quite often, one of us would say the answer, and she would continue prompting for the right response while we exhausted every other possibility. "I can't believe none of you know this! It's the Who's Who! You must of heard of that?" Yes, we had. It had already been suggested. If it was vaguely TV, or even radio related, the question would be finished with "And you should know this, Joanne, you work at the Broadcasting Company!". It didn't matter how many times I replied "Call me Jo" or "I there", followed by the wrong answer, it appeared not to matter.

"So, what's the radio equivalent of that short, powerful quote? Joanne, you work at the Broadcasting Company. You'll know this"
"Umm...well, while I was there, TV...not radio...I wasn't really involved in the - "
"A soundbite! You must know that!"

Our final task at 4pm on Friday was to leaf through the Metro and find a story that we could turn into a feature article for work. Two of the seven people on the course worked for PR agencies, another for an educational magazine, one for the university, there was a freelance writer, a video blogger / web designer and me: Joanne, 23, TV extraordinaire. One by one we explained our ideas and Carole encouraged us to use them at work on Monday morning. Finally, it was my turn.

"Ok, Joanne? What about you, what did you find?"
"Well, if I still worked there, this would be a good idea for That Programme...I'd do this, this and that, and find out this and research blah" (I was slightly more specific. Only slightly)
"So this is something they'd consider for The Programme, you think?"
"Yes I expect so, it's along the lines of what we did..."
"Great! So Monday morning, you can take this to the editor and give them the idea! Is that something you'll do on Monday at work?"

At this point, I looked at her a bit strangely. Bear in mind we were two days in and the conversations stated in this post had happened numerous times. Everyone else in that room knew I was unemployed. That my name is Joanna, preferably Jo. Some might guess that an entry level TV job does not offer you the chance to pitch programme ideas to the editor. Except Carole. At 4:25pm, I gave it one last shot.

"Umm, the thing is, I don't work there any more."
"You don't work there any more?"
" since the end of May, when the series finished. I left about a month ago. I'm unemployed."

You see Carole, that's what listening affords you. Listening avoids having a look of confusion cross your face in front of 7 people who think you'd be an even better tutor if you paid attention to your students. She remained perplexed for about 2 seconds while she bumbled something about me going freelance and hunted about for our course certificates.

As she handed them out, she put mine in front of me and said "At least they got your full name right on here!"

I looked up and caught the eye of my course mate, who was grinning at me from across the table.

"Sort of, Carole" I sighed, "sort of."


mjohnson said...

That is very funny, though journalists are famous for their lack of attention to detail. Hope your career change works out for you.

London-Lass said...

Pah. How vague/dizzy can you get? And I bet she's never had anyone forget that silent `e' in her first name either.

Rol said...

I find it reassuring that it's not just people with weird names (i.e. me) who go through this sort of thing.

I remember one substitute teacher who refused to call me Rol because she insisted it must be by NICKNAME. Aaargh!

Clarissa said...

I say 'Arrrrrggghhhh!'

How annoying when you are spending your free time (and probably tuition) to attend this course. That woman should have to pay you to make up for her slack.

theperpetualspiral said...

Oh dear.

I do however admire your tenacity for not leaping up and screaming in her face how stupid she was. By the sound of it though, she wouldn't have listened.


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