Kung kami, kami - Vina Morales

Monday, August 07, 2006

Thank you for smoking

I don’t remember the last time I read a book that got me laughing out loud this much. Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley really had me in stitches.

The book is all about Nick Naylor, a tobacco lobbyist--hated by the media and, of course, anti-smoking orgs--working in a company disguised under the name Academy of Tobacco Studies (Wazak). This is a guy who can lie through his teeth and say that there’s no connection between smoking and lung cancer even if the guy he’s arguing with is breathing through a tube attached to his throat. Together with his buddies from the pro-gun and pro-alcohol industries, he has the most despised job on earth. In fact they call themselves the MOD squad, short for Merchants of Death. In a way, I could relate to the story because I used to work with the PR department of this big soft drink company that defended itself (well, not to death like Nick Naylor) despite numerous studies that say soda is one of the causes of obesity. The convenient line they have adopted is: There is no such thing as junk food, only junk diets(San ka pa!). The funny thing is, the people I used to work with so truly and passionately believe this line.

Nick Naylor also reminded me of my boss back at that company and the reason why (among many others) I wasn’t able to stay. Theirs is a world that required a lot of sophistication, guts or kapal ng mukha and the ability to convince the public out there that what they’re saying is true. It’s the dirty work (and somebody’s gotta do it), and this simpleng probinsyana (ika nga ni Jerome) is simply not cut out for it ("Cola company donates elementary school building for impoverished community". The irony is they've banned soft drinks in some elementary schools. Get the psychology?). In a way, the book reconciled me with the fact why I left the company. At some point, I blamed myself a lot because I had it going for me with a relatively nice salary, benefits etc. but I blew it--more specifically, I blew away dylan’s future! But the book made me realize, that the job is not who I am (Well, who am I nga ba?) and if I forced myself to have my bosses’ mindset I know I will end up a lot richer but definitely unhappier. To be rich or to be happy (siyempre to be rich, gaga!)? Grabe, life is complicated, talaga. But reading the book made me realize how cunning the people behind advertising and PR should be. They promote products in very, very subtle ways—everything is subliminal! If you’re not smart, you’ll fall prey to it. Ang galing, actually.

Anyways, this book you must read for the humor--no dull moment in every page. And don’t take it the wrong way, I like Nick Naylor (who became anti-smoking eventually in the book)... and my former boss, too:)

What can I say, here’s to happiness!