Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dear TIAA-CREF

Look, I am sure you have received a plethora of angry letters from your clients lately, but I am not writing to complain about all the money you’ve lost for me (larger economic issues are at play, I can see that). I am writing to complain about your advertising. Your commercials make me feel awful. STOP with the guilt trips. DAMN. How many vibrant, well-dressed, well-coifed, highly-educated, reasonably attractive people can you cram into a 30 second spot? Did Plato dream up these professors? They look so accomplished, so thrilled to be sharing knowledge, so creative, so perfectly pleased with themselves to be engaging in research. Who are these people? Why are you tormenting me with them? And the music…don’t get me started. I see these uber-people and their big fat TIAA-CREF accounts, their happy fucking colleagues, their attentive students and I do not feel good about my retirement. I feel guilty, a little jealous of your fictive academic world, and pissed that you have so inaccurately misjudged the concerns of your current and future clients. You see, my hair needs to be cut and looks like crap. My colleagues generally dress in a mixed style of ill-fitting, washed a thousand times, Land’s End type wear with a dose of exotic flourishes acquired from faraway locations. They are generally not attractive. None of us ever look that happy. It’s not that we aren’t ever happy, we just don’t usually smile that much and look that pleased with ourselves— particularly while lecturing or performing surgery. I would love to live in your farce of an academic world. Those folks appear to be making some cash (can you guarantee their retirement will be equally pleasant?), they are having a profound impact on their students, and have the most spacious offices I have ever seen. These images do not inspire faith in your company. Look, stop assaulting me with this bullshit. Take my money and just hold onto it for me. Give me an ad showing me my future and how pleased I will be to have a stash of money. Show me an old graying professor out of touch with recent developments in their field, looking wearily upon their students, and fed up with their colleagues. Show me that professor gleefully entering their final final grades and heading to the airport for a tropical vacation with their TIAA-CREF money. That is what I want to see. Cue low-key inspiring music.

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