I leave Foryst for the arms of The Plant Whisperer and immerse myself in my digital marketing work. During this period, every time I am in Los Angeles, I am meeting with the most interesting client in the world. Below is an excerpt from my first book, Down and Out in California. Support me on Patreon to help me write my second book.
The most interesting client in the world is the twenty-two year old son of a Chinese billionaire. He and his father are part of a long line of medical scientists that trace their lineage to the official doctors for the emperors. I meet the son in an office in Los Angeles on Sunset Blvd.
He is dressed in all black, with a black turtleneck, black sunglasses, and a black leather jacket. I’m glad I chose to wear my pin striped suit and pin striped mafia hat today. It oddly matches his sense of style. He smiles when he speaks to me, and introduces himself. We are the first two to arrive to the meeting. Even though it is not my agency, I show him into the conference room with deference. He smiles and speaks with perfect English and a slight Mandarin accent.
“I looked you up.” He says.
“I looked you up as well.” I say, still smiling.
“You and I both went to USC. It was a good school. You did well for yourself. And then, so many jobs! I am impressed with your education, your career, and your life experience. You already have this contract, this meeting is a formality.” He shakes my hand.
“Fight On.” It’s the rallying cry of USC. I never cared about football, but I did look him up, and I know that he does. He gets excited at this and then I am saved by the entrance of the rest of the marketing team and the account executive. I am the only woman in the room except for the secretary, who is taking notes.
One of the team comments snarkily “Good thing social is already here” referring to me. I ignore this.
Jin Jr. introduces his plan to influence the internet, the masses and the governments of the countries where the regulatory agencies are hanging up his technology. He points to each of us with each segment of his plan – the event marketing people are to throw a ball for congress members. The offline team is working on the Times Square spot for the massive mind-change. The ads people are working on part of the internet, but it’s me, he says, that is the gem in his plan. He wants not just social: but viral.
The room hushes, uncomfortable. People don’t talk about viral anymore. Not everyone even remembers it anymore. Very few experts left.
“I know that if everyone on the internet sees the healing that this technology can provide, then it does not matter what government or commerce does. It’s the people that matter. And I know you can control the people.” He says, pointing at me.
“No problem. I got my start in viral marketing, as I’m sure you have learned. I still have my identity list, and I have multiple people on my team working maintenance on thousands of accounts. Let’s work together to find a hook that will appeal to the people.”
“Perfect. So we are done here. Thank you, Zoe.” John says, reaches over the table and shakes my hand, and then walks out the room abruptly.
The marketing plan is completely unfeasible and I realize soon that even the client doesn’t believe in it, he’s just been given a budget and sent here to spend it, and it doesn’t much bother him how effective things are as long as his surroundings and the people he work with give him pleasant feelings. For some reason, I do.
I meet him where he lives in downtown Los Angeles at The Ritz Carlton, for meetings. He meets me whenever I am in town, and occasionally flies me from wherever I happen to be in for the day, pays for lunch in one of the massive hotel’s restaurants, and talks to me about college football and the plan to take over the world and asks me questions about my time in Hollywood. John is always polite, formal, and respectful, and he pays me sincere compliments for the work.
He is The Most Interesting Client In The World.
He has a fiancé, then a wife, then a baby, but I never see her.
Neither does the account exec, who lives locally and spends a lot of time with him.
The technology I’m promoting is amazing – it regrows skin on burn victims, digits and limbs, and cures cancer in people who only have a month to live. Plus it’s used for longevity, there’s apparently a group of men in China called “The 300 Club” who take the tech every day in a pill, believing it will allow them to live to three hundred. It takes me months to believe that the photos I’m seeing from dozens of developing countries are not photoshopped, that people really are regrowing arms and fingers and half the skin on their body that has been burned off – all without scars.
Slowly I realize that it’s legitimate, as the landscape becomes more and more familiar to me. It’s stem cell technology, but simple. Years later I order some of the burn ointment on Amazon. It works.
Our approach doesn’t matter, so it’s bold, and cheap. I have an illustrator design cartoons slandering their competitor for their connection to the Nobel Prize committee and their “undue” win of the prize. I spread it everywhere on the internet, hire all my friends, and do sloppy work. No one cares, even though each item of work does go back to John’s billionaire father for review.
I break my wrist. When John hears of this he immediately has me send xrays to his father, in case there is anything that they can do for me that I can’t have done in the United States, and in case regenerative medicine can help.
“I will send a helicopter for you, and then you will take a plane to China for the doctor, if necessary.”
He tells me. I thank him profusely. I’m almost relieved when his father says there’s nothing extra they can do for me.
This pleasant working relationship that pays my rent four times over goes on for a year and a half until John suddenly decides to move back to China and focus his efforts at playing the world like a chessboard there. I never hear from him again. I hear not too long afterwards that his father, a member of the 300 Club, choked to death while eating. When I see his competitors move into the US market, I wonder what has become of John Jin, but don’t look him up.
A year later, as a joke, one of my friends that I hired, an expert internet troll, makes a few graphics and some posts twisting the work that we did and citing a Jewish plot to take over the Nobel Prize using Chinese money and old school viral marketing. He seeds 4Chan and Reddit with them, and it goes viral of its own accord. There is a huge explosion during which my website is hacked and I get massive amounts of email. Mostly from people looking for work.
Every few months it goes around again, and years later I am still getting emails about it, but it never affects my work. I’m disappointed that no one ever refers to John Jin as The Most Interesting Client In The World.
They call it Shillgate.
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