Friday, January 13, 2006

the sweater data sheet

Believe it or not, the following post was written entirely without the aid of the margaritas that Undercover Celebrity suggested.

One time, when I used to work in a cubicle (now I am very important and have my own office), I sat near a girl we’ll call Susan. Susan would always complain about how cold it was in the office. Which it was, but somehow the rest of us figured out how to layer clothing appropriately so as not to suffer on a daily basis. This basic task seemed to escape her.

Now in the technology marketing world that I inhabit from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, my coworkers and I can often be found writing something known as a data sheet. A data sheet is exactly what it sounds like – a piece of paper containing the selling points of whatever product it is intended to promote. In the data sheet writing world, it’s all about crafting powerful, convincing prose in the form of bullet points. Preferably beginning with “action words,” or as the rest of the world calls them, verbs.

Once my co-workers and I realized that Susan’s complaints were becoming a trend, we would always talk behind her back. Our offhand “why doesn’t she just put on a sweater already, dammit” comments then evolved for our own amusement into an imagined piece of marketing material that came to be known as the Sweater Data Sheet. As the creative marketing professionals we are, we began compiling bullet points about the features and benefits of sweaters that supported our thesis that simply adding a sweater to her daily wardrobe could eliminate this problem. Because people, a sweater is not just a product – it’s a solution.

Before long, brainstorming content for the sweater data sheet became a frequent activity for us. We would email each other new content back and forth, such as:

  • Traps air next to your skin, ensuring that body heat does not evaporate
  • Minimizes shivering
  • Can be worn open or closed, depending on desired amount of heat retention (cardigan models only)
  • Available in multiple colors and fabrics

And so on. The Sweater Data Sheet took on a life of its own. There were diagrams with arrows and callouts. There were revisions. And anytime someone complained of being cold in a meeting, we were unable to look at each other for fear of dissolving into a fit of unprofessional giggles.

One of two things is happening as you are reading this. Either you are thinking “Oh Lord, this girl has gone off the deep end,” or you are recalling to yourself an inside office joke that amused you, perhaps excessively. If the latter is true, please share.

4 comments:

Carolyn said...

That is funny. Coincidentally, I have a co-worker who is always saying she's cold, and that would be Undercover Celebrity herself! :)

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star said...

I think I may be one of these Sweater Challenged people you speak of. I can never seem to wear the corresponding clothes to the corresponding temperature.

I WOULD share an office inside joke if I could, but you will have to refer to my current blog to ascertain why I cannot.

undercover celebrity said...

Oh my gosh, I'm sweater girl... except I wear sweaters and still freeze. Oh well.

The sweater data sheet is a true classic.

Inside office jokes... this one mental midget recently aproached a co-worker very perplexed, "I cannot, for the life of me, figure out the difference between 'annunciate' and 'pronunciate'."

My co-worker, actually making use of her brain, responded with, "Well, for starters, 'pronunciate' is not a word."

I suppose that's not so much an inside joke as it is something we use to make fun of her behind her back. Evil women, we are. But, it's like I always say, if you don't want to be made fun of, learn the English language.

Poka Bean said...

freaking hilarious. i wish i could see the final version of the data sheet complete with diagrams. please tel me susan has gone on to work at warmer places!