The allure of Europe for media and marketing certainly makes sense; there are so many markets looking for smooth ideas and polished programs. Unfortunately, sometimes taking your talents to the land of the Euro isn't as cushy as it sounds.
|Romania's Arcul de Triumf, a replication of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.|
This isn't groundbreaking news, obviously, but it's difficult for the average Media Joe (in this instance, yours truly) to imagine a
It was just a few years back. I was lithe and young, at least in mind and soul.
I arrived to what I thought was a nice location in the Bucharest City Centre at Heliade Intre VII and Doamna Ghica. Elevators broken, I dragged my bag up to my apartment. The $4,000 door gave way to a glorified utility closet, no more that 14x14 square feet with a Murphy bed and the shared bathroom down the hall. The busted television meant that the poster of Nicolae Ceauşescu and the "Guide to
Here’s the rub though. I was never paid anything close to my contract signing and after weeks of complaining and threats of going home early with my Air France tickets, I did get a note -- famously scribbled and tacked to my apartment door -- saying that my first and only paycheck would be given to me at
My meeting spot was scheduled under the Arcul de Triumf which is a replication of
Yet I digress. This was my first clandestine meeting where I may or may not get paid, instead possibly winding up as dinner for the
Anders was a gracious bully and the absence of color in his wardrobe was the traditional attire for a meeting of this sort. Armed with cigars and stories, he informed me that the two-inch thick manila envelope he waved continually would be all they could afford to pay me. Quite frankly, he confided, the money train had dried up for his bosses. He also shared a story of my predecessor (just in case I wanted to escalate my desire to collect more of my worthless contract).
|Herastrau Park in the 1990s.|
He finally handed me the envelope and the now-paranoid Media Guy felt like all eyes were on him and knew that there was $7,000 in British pounds there. That was a big sum of money over there and Anders was clever when we told me that just about anyone would turn in their brother for only $500 pounds. When he turned to leave, I thought I'd caught a hint of a smile on his lips.
Time to bolt. I took off right back to the cab and straight to the hotel where I pushed the bureau so the door couldn't fly open. That was a long night in my Murphy bed room wondering who might be looking to snatch my cash. As soon as morning hit, I zipped to the bank and wired the money home. The next day I was tucked safely in my business class seat sipping on a vintage French wine paired with caviar and toast points.
My parting relief was the local newspaper headline, “Despite Record Crowds, CSP UM Timişoara Declares Bankruptcy”.
A trip of a lifetime – albeit a little lighter than I expected in my wallet – ended with a job well done.