My name is Kevin O’Connor and my life is awesome. I am the CMO of a fortune 500 company. My house has more rooms than I need and I only use about a quarter of the cars I own. Had you asked me 15 years ago if my life would have been like this I would have told “yes, 100%! I am going to be rich and important someday” that was in my final year of my business degree. Ask me if I would be in this position ten years ago and I would have told you to get out of my office (If you could call it that). Those dreams of being rich and important were out the window. Replaced with the dream of actually paying rent on time that month. To explain how I got to where I am now I guess I have to go back ten years and explain the whirlwind that was my life.
I was 26. Five years out of my degree. When I first graduated I was expecting to be like the glamourized ad men of the 60s, smoking cigars and drinking expensive whiskey in meetings with clients that thought I was god’s gift to the world of advertising. I got an unpaid internship at an ad agency downtown. What they don’t tell you about unpaid internships is that they are basically a term used to bring back slave labour. The company acted like you were privileged to be working there and therefore asking for time off or working less than 12 hours a day was an insult to the company and “they could easily find a replacement for you”. At the end of this hellish experience I wasn’t even guaranteed a job! After a year of working 60 hour weeks, that’s 3120 hours in total if you care, I was short listed for the job. The interview went great and I thought all my hard work had finally paid off. Turns out the lazy intern in the office who worked 9-5 everyday, was the bosses son. “You can re-enter the internship program next year” they told me. I’d rather not repeat what I said but needless to say I wasn’t coming back the next year.
So what is the most logical move for a 22 year old with no job and an ever growing debt? You’d think find any work I could and move from there. What you thought was wrong. I decided to start my own business: Digital Marketing Consultant. There were stories every week about some start up or another doing great, making millions! What they don’t show is that you need to be a big name in the industry before people start coming to you for advice. On the bright side I wasn’t working as an intern anymore.
Fast forward five years, I was a “Marketing Consultant and PR Specialist” at least that’s what my business cards said. I paid most of my bills through freelance design and a relatively successful blog about how to dominate your Fantasy Football League. I did have a few ‘Consulting’ jobs but to be honest my biggest job was the flower shop down the street that was run by an 80 year old woman. She had no idea how to turn on a computer but her grand kids were on ‘The Facebook’ and ‘Tweeter’ and she figured she needed to be to. As you can tell my life wasn’t quite where I had envisioned it as I was receiving my degree. I did have an office and my degree was on the wall so I wasn’t doing awful. My office by no means is the corner office in a large glass skyscraper. It could have been likened to the office of a detective in a 1950s film. Dark and dreary and it even had a door with a frosted glass window. The window had my name detailed onto it, a gift from my mother upon “getting my first grown up job”, thanks Mom. You may think I’m going pretty into depth about how my door looked ten years ago but it was what I was staring at, daydreaming about a better life, when he knocked on the door. The knock that sent my life into a whirlwind.
As you can imagine I wasn’t buried in work, so the knock came as a bit of a surprise to me. “Come in!” I hollered. The door opened and in slid a young man. He looked to be somewhere in his early twenties, wearing jean and a plain black v-neck. He had a look about him that he could easily be lost in a crowd. No distinct features about him, he wasn’t overly handsome nor unattractive. What was distinguishable about him at the moment was his jet black hair was a mess, his clothes were dusty and there was dried blood on his pant leg. My first thought was he must be a junky and I was probably being robbed, but what person planning to rob someone knocks on the door? “Can I help you?” I asked.
“Hi, umm are you Mr. O’ Connor? The PR Specialist?” he stammered. By this point I was thoroughly confused but I told him to grab a seat.
“Were you attacked or something?” I asked him.
There was a slight smirk on his face when he answered me “you aren’t exactly the first PR person I’ve gone to. I’ve been to about twenty before you”.
“Gee thanks kid”
He continued “For the most part everyone I’ve been to has kicked me out, others had thrown me out. Hence my appearance” What had this kid possibly pitched to these people to have them toss him out the door? Part of me was worried and the other part was very intrigued.
“Ok, well what can I do for you?” I asked.
“You know the saying ‘you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain’?”.
“That’s not really a saying, it’s a quote by Harvey Dent in Batman” I responded, not sure where he was going.
“Well either way, I need someone like you to help me with my PR. I think I could be a hero, but I don’t want to become a villain”.
I was starting to see why he was tossed out the door, but I had nothing better to do that day. “…and how do you see yourself as a hero?” I said with more than a touch of sarcasm.
“I have powers” I studied his face as he said it. He actually believed what he was telling me. “I know you don’t believe me” he said “will you let me show you?”. I was getting played by and old college friend for sure, but I wanted to see this played out.
“Yeah why not” the 37 followers of ‘Deloris’s Flower Shop’ won’t mind waiting to be updated on how the tiger lilies are doing, I thought.
“Thank you” was all he said and smiled, standing up out of his chair. He walked to the middle of my office and paused. Then he began to float. “I can fly” he said.
Well no shit I thought, but didn’t say anything.
I think he took my silence as I was unimpressed because he then raised his hands to either side, the left began to glow and icy blue and the right was…on fire. “I can also make ice and fire” He said as he returned the floor.
I couldn’t think of anything to say.
“So, can you help me?” he asked. “I can pay you” he added.
I looked around at my crappy office, a representation of my crappy life. What could it hurt, I’d be famous, or maybe infamous. I looked back at the now completely normal looking kid. I still couldn’t find words so all I did was nod. That was the day I became the PR manager for a superhero.