Another open letter, because: open-plan offices

I work in the advertising industry. This isn’t a brag, I promise. And I’m not positing perspective, I promise. I’m just trying to put you into mine, where you may – as I did – presume our space to be filled with an eclectic bunch of all-sorts, where ideas trump ideals and the magic trumps the moron.

It doesn’t.

I promise.

As usual… the difference between ‘presuming’ and ‘assuming’ is major.


As in any line of business, it takes all sorts to mine the marvelous from the mayhem, and any organisation’s care of the all sorts is what will have the all sorts caring for the organisation. Still, some of the collected, collective will be more ‘sort of’ than ‘all sorts’ nomsayin?

Sullen. Spiritless. Slugs.

I’m sure you’ve known a few?

I have.

My most recent slug – boundlessly basic – always struck me as a few chips short of a happy meal. For the purpose of this regale, I shall refer to her as ‘Bruce Jenner’.

As far as annoying goes, I wouldn’t say Bruce was on the same level as, say, a phantom pregnancy, someone who must perform that on-off, on-off, on-off, on-off, on-off, on-off, on-off, on-off light-switch ritual before leaving the room, or Amore Vittone. Still, the slug irked me she did.

Bruce was supposed to be … *cough*… part of the team. She sat silently however, day in and day out, doing whatever it is she did in her dimension for one. Now, this would be less perplexing were our Bruce:

a)     a cat
b)     deaf
c)     not working in an open-plan office with 70+ other people
d)     in charge

But Bruce was none of these. She was however the office Grinch – although not as tall. In fact, Bruce would get into Gold Reef City for free. This will however remain forever speculative because, sadly, our Bruce is distressed by delight in all its shapes and forms, to the point that she complained – very, very quietly but bravely by email – citing the cries of her people: office space volume.

Bruce feels it is disruptive.


Normally, such bland, banality wouldn’t bother me much, but when the cornfed comes up for air – and only to complain – I gets a tickling in my temperament. You see, I was born late at night – but not late last night. I know all about bullying – first-hand, and then some. A bully’s a bully’s a bully: You don’t have to be a complete cock, or big or brash or bolshie; you might just be an under-the-radar, dissent-driving belligerent little bitch named Bruce.

How elemental that ‘normal’ was all Bruce knew, there, before… and before she met someone like me. Tricky… because with every new person that comes – or goes – the distribution of differences will be diversified. Newsflash: this is the very bloodline of the business.


I’m not sure our Bruce is entirely and solely to blame for how bad her boring became. I’d like to think she got up everyday with the best intentions to go to creative capitol with big plans to beguile and bewitch with her talents. Thing is, she got a serious case of the Debbie Downers – and she got it baaaad… And now, according to WebMD, people are sick and tired of her.

High 5


So, Bruce:

They may not have laughed loudly or listened to music in Mooibank, Miederpark or Oudedorp, ever, but you’re not in that library or that dorm-room anymore. You don’t have to live like you’re sucking on a lemon, 24/7. And if anyone told you that you should, you don’t have to listen to them because they’re not your real mom.

But given your awkwarding – me and my larking took the liberty of comprising these possible career alternatives for you:

  • Night Janitor
  • Librarian
  • Graveyard Gardener
  • Truck Driver
  • Mortician
  • Cat

I threw in a couple of options that don’t require much experience – just in case keeping new ones out of your life was a conscious decision but, for what it’s worth, I hope that was just a phase.

FYI: Nothing can change that but you.


“Nobody has milked one performance better than me…
and I’m damned proud of it.” – Bruce Jenner

© Dylan Balkind

White Supremacy

No bait. So much hate. I never got to ask you about your suffocating spate.
Neck brace. Hot face. The ambulance ride told me I’d lost the race.
I went out looking pretty. I came back looking gritty.
I wonder if the unaffected still think my harping about this is petty?

I don’t get stuck doing it often … until I see things like this.

Fourteen years ago, I watched a poet stand under a spotlight, her lips big and her head shaved – she was beautiful and brittle and she wanted answers from her people. She purred: “Give a white man a gun… and he shoots a black man. Give a black man a gun… and he shoots a black man.”

The quiet that followed boomed discernible discomfort. Everybody was embarrassed to be the colour they were for the words she wove were wild.

What is wrong with us?
Why so much chaos?
Karma’s due to hit soon with the full-speed force of a brakeless bus.

So much hate
strangling Light in its gait
Do you see an end in sight to the frenzy of this spate?

I went out looking pretty. I came back looking gritty.
I wonder if the unaffected still think my harping about this is petty?

I don’t get stuck doing it often … until I see things like this.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 7.43.52 PM

Who are you? Privileged white man, son and brother –
to decide that you can and should do this to another?
I want you to have to sit and watch this with your mother,
and the father of your future fiancé and her little brother.

Your drugs are broken
love is just a token
of something you haven’t yet known, lived, felt or even spoken.
You need to start to see
that the repercussions of actions are three –
and that not yet knowing yourself is just an empty roar unspoken melee.

I insist I bring poise albeit anger to this podium,
though nervous I swear this voice I stall could fill a stadium.
It’s when you go outside of being inside your callous thoughtlessness,
that you free yourself from that terminal consortium carelessness.

No bait. So much hate.
Your drugs are broken and your love’s just a token…
I went out looking pretty. I came back looking gritty.
I wonder if the unaffected still think my harping about this is petty?


© Dylan Balkind

Can viral marketing beat the bullies?

Would you think it ok if boys threw your pencil box from the third floor balcony at school or pushed your head into a locker? Would it be ok if you were hospitalised from a beating based on your sexual orientation? Probably not. But there are horrible, angry people out there and bad things happen to good people.

So? What makes an ok day for you?

What makes an ok day for Casey Heynes is not being beaten up or duct taped to a pole. Who is Casey Heynes? Right now he is the hero of every underdog ever pushed, beaten, ridiculed or taunted. He is the Australian schoolboy who fought back at the cowardly runt who picked on him one time too many.

Because the set-up was malicious from the start, the altercation was filmed (with a different outcome expected no doubt). The video has since gone viral and can be found on YouTube, embedded within online news reports from around the world and featured in interviews with Casey Heynes himself. Here the power of viral marketing is obvious and while teachers and bullies alike are backtracking and preaching innocence and shock, the fact is, it took the explosion of this issue in this boy’s life for the bigger picture to be seen – by a MUCH bigger audience.

It has been shown that when one person has an impactful online experience, he or she will tell 12 more people. This is the dynamic that powers viral marketing. This is the dynamic that makes for fast-track superstars like Lily Allen and Justin Bieber. In this case, it is the dynamic that brought this young man some help – from around the world.

It’s staggering to read worldwide statistics on bullying and the connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in children and teenagers (according to a new review of studies from 13 countries by the Yale School of Medicine). How this happens is beyond me. We all come from something so beautiful. Still, because of this disease, organisations like the Give a Damn Campaign and the Trevor Project have been formed – with every superstar and figurehead known (including Barack Obama) getting behind them. The message to bullied, lost or suicidal kids out there? It Gets Better.

Singers like P!NK and Taylor Swift (to name just a few) are using their medium to wage war on bullies and celebrate the beauty in being different. So if you’re too school for cool, and you’re treated like a fool, you could choose to let it go… or you can go viral. It’s your channel to use. The world is online. The world is listening.

So now? What makes an ok day for you?

If there is somene out there to whom you now feel you have something to say, get in touch.

It will make your day more than ok.

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