I have 10 shoeboxes in my closet.
Each of those boxes are labeled in sharpie. One for every year 8th grade through college, one for Kansas City and one for Los Angeles.
In each of these boxes are miscellaneous ribbons, diaries, pictures, birthday cards. Things I should have thrown away but I kept and now I have no idea where they are from or what they mean.
On occasion, I open them up and remember myself from that particular year of my life. Who that girl was, what she wanted, what she didn’t get and what she did. Spoiler alert: it involves a lot of boys and school dances.
I’m not a particularly sentimental person. I have my moments just like everyone else but generally speaking, I reside in the present.
Tonight I was going through my Los Angeles box and found an unopened card addressed to Mr. Ted Miller. It’s my handwriting. It’s my card. I can’t remember what Mr. Miller looked like or what day of the week it was when I met him, and I can tell you I meant to send it. I really did. But I never went through with it.
And now I’m going to tell you why.
I’ve been in the impressive and sprawling lobby of Creative Artist Agency exactly three times. And as long as they haven’t done in recent remodeling, I can tell you to the last detail what it looks like.
There’s a cluster of leather chairs in the middle of the room. To the far end is this red and yellow glass looking mural sculpture that travels floor to ceiling. Everything else is white. Marble maybe.
Creative Artists Agency, or CAA, is probably the single most powerful organization in Hollywood. Their agents represent some of the best and brightest stars in the business. Never heard of them? Good. They want it that way.
And did I want to be an agent? Not really. Did I want to represent some hot shot Hollywood starlet? Negative. I just wanted to write for TV, man. And this is how I was told you do it.
You get a job here Meg, you could make it anywhere. This on your resume, this will get you noticed. This will change your life.
They lovingly refer to CAA’s building as “The Death Star”, mostly because it looks like “The Death Star” and also because when you go inside you lose your soul. Just kidding. Kind of.
Naturally, on my trip down to the parking garage I played The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme Song for reference) and I also wondered if I was the first to do this.
I sat across from Mr. Miller, finally being interviewed by “The Man Who Could Change My Whole Life”. The man who represented THE BEST of TV from Matthew Weiner (Creator of Mad Men) to Zach Braff (One of the greatest humans to ever walk the planet IMO). Floor to ceiling windows looking out into a sea of platinum. Century City. OZ.
I knew it was gametime. I knew if ever there was a time to be charming, intelligent, unique, quick-witted, ambitious… now was that time. This ain’t no HR screening. This is front and center, you better not have spinach in your teeth playa because THIS INTERVIEW IS ALL IN YOUR GRILL.
But I knew staring over Mr. Miller’s shoulders at the pouring rain (really though, how ominous of you, LA) and his little patch of corner office success in a sea of powerful black suits, I just couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t be this man’s assistant. I don’t want to answer his phones, and get his dry cleaning and schedule his meetings, and stay until midnight and make shit money and just hack the lifestyle that I knew joining the elite hunger games arena of CAA would require.
And so I walked out of his office, and down the CAA elevator one last time. Like any good agency interviewee knows, I went to the bathroom and wrote a hand-written note thanking him for his time. But instead of handing it to the front desk to deliver to him, I put it in my purse and left.
And there it sat. I never mailed it.
I highly doubt never sending a thank you note is the sole reason I didn’t get this job. I think someone as powerful as Ted Miller has to rise with a level of intuition. And something about me had flight risk written all over it. Or maybe he just didn’t like me. There are a million reasons to not get a job.
But life is funny right? Like how I waited almost an entire calendar year for this one opportunity, for this job of a lifetime. For the one interview that was going to change everything. Put me on the map. Get me noticed. And sitting there, I knew I didn’t want it anymore.
And there’s a certain power in taking back your choices, you know? In changing your mind. We’re so stuck in an endless rotation of achieving our goals, we forget why were going after them in the first place. Me? I wanted to write. Not be at the agency zoo looking at writers.
And from time to time, I like the reminder. So I take out this unopened card and remember what it was like to walk away from such an opportunity. Then I put it back in my LA shoebox, next to the nine other shoeboxes of who I used to be and I close my closet and I smile and think about everything that has happened since.
Thanks for nothing, Ted. It’s been the opportunity of my lifetime.