Be grateful for the company that fired you
The nightmare for-profit company that reduced clothing waste and wasted my time
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” and has been moved to the new Substack blog in July 2023.
I knew this manager was going to be a challenge to work for less than a month into the work. She’d complained nonstop about one newspaper I worked for and how a news report was terrible public relations for them. I smiled when I saw the journalist who wrote it. She was my boss’ longtime girlfriend, and she was always friendly to me. But when my new boss asked me did I know her, I downplayed it slightly, “Yeah, name looks familiar.”
The actual news report was true though. The company, a for-profit “reusable” clothing organization, had clothing bins all over the City of Chicago. They seemed to have popped up out of nowhere. While people thought they were donating to charity, what they were really doing was collecting clothes that looked almost new to sell them elsewhere.
Recommended Read: “Is fast fashion killing the planet?”
I’m not knocking the business model. Donaters should definitely read the fine print. But I didn’t understand the anger at this reporter for writing the true. Yes, this report kept outranking their flood of press releases, but the journalist definitely did not lie. If clothing donation participators weren’t reading the clothing bin text carefully, this was a warning for them.
Granted, the company did do a few nice things like donate fancy gowns to girls in need of prom dresses. But they did a lot more profiting than giving back, which is common for any for-profit business. Downplaying this idea made no sense; just take the donations from people who don’t care instead of griping about the reporter who called them out by name. Or, choose companies that you can already trust, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.
Recommended Read: “Behind-the-Scenes With Salvation Army: Where does clothing donation money go?”
I knew explaining to her how journalism works was a waste of time. This is a constant gripe with marketing companies anyway. If a news report isn’t a glowing review, they regard the news industry as the enemy. What this woman wanted me to write was nonstop glowing reviews about how cool the company was.
And while I kept trying to yank the journalism hat off my head and just make bread, I sucked as a marketing writer. Every time she would tell me something to say, I’d fact-check it. My “marketing” copy was never complimentary enough, too fact-based and (according to my boss) “too boring.” I didn’t use words like “kick ass” and “superstar,” two words I absolutely loathe in job descriptions. I didn’t pull out my pom poms and yell to the rooftop. I was awful at this job because the journalism hat that was strategically tipped on the side of my then-bob haircut had secretly been glued to my head overnight. I started looking for all the flaws — and found them.