I love Craigslist.  While it still looks like it was designed by some amateur in his basement in 1998, it has provided me with a wealth of opportunities from furnishing and renting my apartment, endless fun jobs lasting from a couple hours to a few months to even meeting my former band mates.  I check it everyday and almost always find something worthwhile responding to.

If you’re not familiar with the website (a.k.a you don’t live in the US), it is basically an online classifieds board set up for every major city with everything from apts for sale, jobs, groups to meet up with like-minded people, and until just recently, NSA (no strings attached) sexual encounters…Probably better they got rid of that feature.

What Craigslist looks like
My local Craigslist home screen and what I usually click on

Anyways, after university, I had decided that traveling was going to be a personal focus and I wanted to find ways to work abroad beyond having to serve beer at some expat bar or teach English in some bumblefuck Chinese village (I’m sure it would be great, but not for me).  I came across a post one day for a marketing company based in Miami that needed someone to help with multiple projects, including one that involved being the US Rep for a Colombian company that made Point of Sale displays (think that fancy M&M’s case at the front of the supermarket,see pics below).

I applied, had an interview, and the next thing I knew, my gringo ass was flying from Miami directamente to Bogota to actually work abroad, not just to drink beers and meet local women (of course I did that also).

The company sent a driver to the airport to pick me up and it was the first time there was someone holding a sign with my last name on it…it was pretty cool.  The driver then took me to my hotel which was nothing special, but it was not on my dime so beggars can’t be choosers I guess.  The next day, one of the women who worked for the company picked me up and drove me to the heart of the industrial area in the south of Bogota.  It was really pretty…..terrible, dirt roads, dogs and garbage everywhere.  I was beginning to think the whole thing was a scam and I was about to have my rectum jammed full of cocaine, but just before my fantasies got too out of hand, we pulled up to a huge walled in fortress, the woman waved her hand and the gate began to lurch open.  I felt like I was about to enter Mordor in Lord of the Rings.

We drove in, got out of the car and I was able to see into the factory which was bustling with people running all sorts of machines, banging away on metal sheets, and chain smoking cigs.   We then walked into the office area and I was led to the conference room where I inevitably spent a large portion of the following week learning all about the business, what they make exactly and how I might be able to sell it in the US yada yada, boring.

I felt like a kindergartner because all I could think about all day was what the office servant was going to bring for snack time, yes they had snack time at mid-morning every day, and yes there was a servant.   Another focus of my energy was pondering where they were going to take me for lunch.  Every single day the owner of the company took me to eat at a different mall food court, it was pretty odd.  Check out this mall we went to, it was circus themed!

Inside the Centro Mayor Mall in Bogota
The Food Court at Centro Mayor Mall, felt like a real clown.
Centro Mayor Mall
Trapeze Sculptures at the Centro Mayor Mall

The highlight of the experience was learning the fabrication process in which I spent the whole day bullshitting with the workers and learning exactly what they did.  I was shocked to learn that the perfectly polished products looked like they were made by machines, but in Colombia, it is still cheaper to pay human workers than have some engineer develop computerized machines to make everything, these people were true craftsmen!

Below are a few of the steps needed to create some displays for Frito Lay:

Woman Factory Worker in Bogota
Woman Metal Fabricator
Blow Torch worker in Colombia
The blow torch guy
Metal Washers in Factory
Workers who clean the metal after it
Factory worker painting in Colombia
Painting and finishing the metal

 

Frito Lay Displays
The Finished Product
Factory workers in Bogota
How many Colombians does it take to carry a box?
Point of Sale Displays
Some more point of sale displays they make

I ended up extending my trip for a few days to relax and check out Bogota, but, when I got back to the states I had a falling out with the company and ended up not selling a damn thing. Hey, at least I got a free trip to Colombia out of it!!!

It was just cool to see the working culture in another country, and for some reason the whole time I was there, I was way more interested in  just seeing everyone’s day-to-day grind than learning about some product I didn’t even care to sell, wups!

Be Sociable, Share!

Related posts: