“What a nice job you have” is one of the more frequent remarks I have received from new acquaintances over the years. Then, the phrase “Wow, you get to drive nice cars and travel” follows soon after, which will be met by a wry smile from yours truly. Some, after finding out that I work for a website and can type from home, offer to swap places.
Yes, being able to work in underwear is a freedom that I take for granted, especially when my neighbour has to get up two hours earlier to brave the rush hour traffic and start work the same time as me, who at 8:55 am, crawls out of bed to haphazardly poke at the laptop’s power button.
But there are drawbacks to not having to physically clock in everyday (Driven Communications has a lively base in Jaya One PJ, by the way), because with no office, there are no office hours. Keeping Malaysia’s No.1 automotive website rolling requires a lot more than just the typical 9-to-5 everyday (over 14 hours a day behind the screen is not uncommon) and our team have to attend to stories fast, no matter the hour, like paramedics, in a war zone. That’s no exaggeration.
Of course, there are also events to attend. We do get to travel a bit in our quest to bring you the latest stories and drive reports from the world of cars – there are seven outstation/overseas event invites in our inbox this month alone, for instance, and we’re at full stretch. While we know of some motoring journalists who actively solicit ego boosting remarks from their friends (see first paragraph) by never failing to post a pretty pic of an exotic locale or flashy new car on Facebook, the reality is less glamourous.
The novelty of driving the latest GTI on the French Riviera, for instance, wears off fast when you realise that media trips can have schedules as tight as elbow room in a kei car. More often than not, it’s a quick in and out affair, with half a day of ‘free and easy’ time thrown in as charity.
Typically, it will go something like this:
Day 1: Arrive, transfer to hotel, check in, free and easy, dinner
Day 2: Product presentation, drive, lunch, drive, dinner
Day 3: Breakfast, check out, transfer to airport, depart for KL
I’ve been on one trip that required one stopover and two transits to reach the destination, only to be there for fewer hours than the total travelling time. Unless hanging out in a plane is your idea of fun…
And unlike colleagues from monthly rags and paper pullouts, there’s little chance to sit down and focus on the story once we’re home, as it’s straight back into the daily grind of churning out news. All for you, dear paultan.org reader.
Daily deadlines means that work on feature stories and test drive reports have to be pushed to the weekend. And after looking at cars, talking cars and dissecting cars for the whole week, sometimes that’s the last thing I want to think about on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I love cars, but not that much.
Inevitably, this cycle will see stories mothball into debt, and we all know that the burden of debt can’t be washed away by a shrug and a couple of pints – it will come back to haunt you! There are highlights of course, but we’ll leave that for another day.
So there you have it, a glimpse into the life of a paultan.org motoring writer. It’s not all fun and games, but if given a chance, I’ll do it all over again.