Every once in a while, Lulu would be contacted by her Turkish friends and acquaintances, who would inquire about our agency hiring their sons or daughters as interns. That is how Marissa Aslan joined our agency. It was the same for Don Caylak, an annoying and snotty Turkish-American millennial, who had recently graduated from a local university studying photojournalism.
When I first met Don, I actually thought he was still in high school. He said he was 24, but he didn’t look a day over 18. Don was thin with black hair and brown eyes and greeted any of my work requests with an obnoxious smirk. In fact, this was his constant expression. I guess you could say Don had a bad case of resting smirk face. So, he fit in well with the rest of the lame millennial crew at the Yilmaz Agency. Don only lost his smug, snotty expression when he had to deal with one of Lulu’s unreasonable demands.
Don actually had no public relations experience and had taken no PR classes at school, but I didn’t hold that against him. I also had no PR education before I joined my first PR agency. It was his journalism experience that intrigued me. Don had worked at the school newspaper as I had while I was in college in Long Beach.
Unfortunately, our similarities ended there.
Don was not easy to manage, as he always thought he knew better, and didn’t seem much interested in learning anything from me. He displayed this snotty, smug attitude despite having weak writing skills and little desire to overcome his ignorance of basic public relations practices. Don honestly showed no enthusiasm in learning the public relations business at all. Don was only there because he was pressured by his parents to get experience in business following his graduation.
So, there was only so much Don could help me with. Don could work on media lists and help me with some media pitching, but I had to drastically revise everything he attempted to write. His writing was fucking awful, and I wondered at times if I should have bothered to assign Don writing assignments and just done the work myself. I couldn’t help but lament again the quality of writing classes in college these days. Don had no grasp of the basics of writing, let alone public relations writing. Don didn’t seem to care, though, as he ignored my edits and continued to write poorly.
Lulu also had Don work on research projects for her and it was no surprise she was unhappy with his shoddy work. However, Lulu didn’t do anything about Don’s incompetence, as she had basically forced the idiot on me. I didn’t have a chance to interview him for our intern position. Lulu just handed me his resume and said he would be helping me with no consideration of whether Don would be a good fit for our agency.
Don also would spend a lot of time during the workday texting his colleagues in the Chicago office or talking to them on the phone, including one noxious millennial named Pattie Kelleher. He had met Pattie when Don and I had made our first and only trip together to the Chicago office for Don’s training shortly after he joined our firm. He befriended Pattie and others, and later I can only assume Don started backstabbing me through texts during the workday. I had noticed that Pattie and others at the Chicago office had become more hostile toward me after Don came back from our Chicago trip.
Also, during our Chicago trip, our creepy colleagues at the Yilmaz Agency didn’t even make an effort to entertain Don and me, and at least take us out to dinner or show us the town. We weren’t treated like valued colleagues, but like visiting idiots. I was offended by their unfriendly behavior, and it showed me just how diseased and crazy Lulu’s agency was. Maybe it was the general lack of manners I have seen with so many young people I have worked with in recent years. Or maybe they already hated us because the previous L.A. office managers before me hadn’t been popular with the Chicago office. At least, that is was Lulu told me. Who knows if it was true?
So, I was stuck with having to entertain Don the night we were in Chicago, which was an awkward experience. After a long walk, we finally found an excellent Italian restaurant. Typically, our colleagues were no help, as no one in the Chicago office recommended a local place for us to eat. We were truly on our own.
During dinner, Don and I really didn’t have much to talk about except for how lame we thought our agency colleagues were. I now realize Don probably told our colleagues my displeasure with their lack of social manners and their lousy work performance.
Don also would mock things I would say or do right to my face. It was crazy. He would, in particular, accuse me of having a phobia about my iPhone running out of power, as I kept a charger with me to make sure I could keep my phone powered up. I had one of the older iPhones at the time with the earlier batteries that didn’t hold a charge for too long. I needed to keep my phone charged at all times for business, and also, I was in a strange city and knew no one there. I needed to be cautious and vigilant. In our modern times, a phone has become an important lifeline for us. Strangely, Don couldn’t understand that even though he spent most of his time at work, texting.
I couldn’t wait to get back to my hotel room to be alone with my thoughts and lament how I could have taken such a shitty PR job that only seemed to get worse with each passing day. I also picked up some wine and a bag of chips to try to relieve my work sorrows. I felt better for a short time, but the next day I had to deal with our colleagues’ hostility, not to mention Lulu’s and Miriam’s demands, and endless meetings with the team before flying back home to California with the idiotic Don. I also remember overhearing Marissa talking with Don and her asking what we did the previous night. She wondered why we went to that particular Italian place, which was not one of the cooler places in the city. Marissa did this with a straight face while ignoring the fact that she and the rest of the team treated us like lepers and didn’t offer any dining suggestions, let alone consider joining us. Idiot.
I was glad our stay at the Chicago office was short, only one day and night, for Don’s training, as I always felt depressed following a visit with my Chicago colleagues. It only reminded me that I needed to get a new job soon. In L.A., I had to deal with the Chicago office’s dysfunction from afar through email and the phone. Seeing it up close was far worse.
This time on the flight back I tried to ignore Don as much as possible. I just put on some earbuds and listened to music and he did the same.
Also, because of our idiotic HR person, Maurice Lemons, we didn’t have Wi-Fi on our flight, but this I didn’t mind as I had a brief respite from Lulu’s and Miriam’s constant demands and craziness.
As I had mentioned, things only got worse after that between Don and me. He began to blatantly fuck up on the easiest of assignments, and he truly didn’t seem to care. I knew I soon would have to talk with Lulu about replacing him and I wasn’t sure how she would take it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.
A month or so after we got back from our Chicago trip, Don asked me to give him a ride to the airport to pick up his parents at LAX. His parents were an odd couple, to say the least. His father, who was in his early sixties, dressed as an older Bohemian surfer with sandals. Don’s mother was in her late fifties with dark hair and a nervous look on her face. She kept worrying we were going to get into an accident, as I tried to navigate my way out of LAX traffic after another long and horrible workday at the Yilmaz Agency.
However, Don’s parents, unlike their son, actually had manners and thanked me profusely for giving their son an opportunity to work at our agency.
I told them it was nothing, and it was our pleasure. In fact, only the first part of my response was correct. Don’s deteriorating performance did absolutely nothing to help our agency.
I recall Don telling me that his father was waiting for a big lawsuit case award for a disability back payment he was owed in Turkey. He really didn’t go into the details, but for some reason, Don’s father couldn’t work. I only mention this, as about a month later, Don showed up at our L.A. office one morning declaring that he had to quit his internship to take a job at Home Depot because his father had lost his case and someone in the family had to make an income. I was sympathetic, but Don left that morning without giving us any notice. It really fucked things up, as me and the Chicago office were relying on Don to handle certain media monitoring tasks for our clients, in addition, to pitching the media.
I was furious, but I wished Don luck. I told Lulu what had happened and she said she would be talking to his parents about Don’s abrupt departure.
I told Lulu that going forward I wanted to interview anyone first before they joined our agency and that I preferred people that had an interest in working in public relations to avoid another debacle as we had with Don. Lulu agreed and she put out an ad for a new intern instead of relying on her Turkish friends.
Now that should have been the end of the story.
A couple of weeks later, I got a call from someone at Home Depot, asking for a job reference for Don. The lame fucker had the gall to ask for a reference even after leaving without giving us an appropriate notice, or really any notice at all. It was unprofessional behavior, and naturally, we didn’t give Don a reference beyond that he worked as an intern at our agency. It was a standard response when someone was fired or quit on bad terms. The job reference call was indicative of Don’s cluelessness when it came to business or probably anything else in life.
Maybe things are changing and giving businesses a two-week notice is no longer considered necessary by younger workers, but I still feel it is a show of respect to your former employer. There was no faster way to burn a bridge in the business world than to quit without leaving notice, as Don discovered that day. It was something I had to learn the hard way in my own career, and I suspect many other millennials like Don will be learning this hard lesson in the years to come.