Building A Basement Below The Low Point

27 11 2006

After I graduated from UC San Diego I was stuck in a strange limbo. I had initiated the year-long application process to medical school after my senior year, which meant I had some time to kill. All I wanted to do was find a low-stress job that would work up some scratch and keep my weekends free. For a while I took temp clerical positions, but quickly tired of my recruiter proferring “tremendous opportunities” in the alphabetical filing industry. I might have been light on experience, but I felt my bachelors degree should possibly be leveraged for more than $80 a day and 70 WPM.

Weeks of searching and scattering my resume to the winds unearthed very little in the way of opportunties. Most biotech firms weren’t hiring in my area and I had a nasty habit of being up-front about my potential departure in a year with those that were. I briefly considered making my way as a hunter gatherer, but I had all but lost my taste for goanna from prior forays. It became apparent that I would have to expand the scope of my search.

I bypassed most sales positions outright, not because I lacked sales skills but because I disliked the breed immensely. I grew up next door to mutiple AMWAY profiteers and could never escape the feeling that they were politely pawing at me or my family to help them reach their quotas. “Don’t you get tired of that inconvenient drive to the store to buy soap and asparagus? If you buy through me we’re cutting out the soap/asparagus middleman and passing the saving on to you! Can I put you down for 8 crates?” On one occasion, however, I followed up on a want-ad promising a particularly lucrative sales position, thinking that it paid in a range that would mitigate any associated self-loathing. I called them and asked “This isn’t outside sales, right? No telemarketing and no cold-calling, right?”

“Of COURSE not! Send us your resume and we’ll call you in for an interview!”

Note the double exclamation points. They were very excited. Also note that the invitation to interview was basically painted as an inevitability, a subtlety that was lost on a job-hungry me. All of this should have been the equivalent of a warning flag being run up a crowbar, which subsequently thrashed me about the skull, but it’s amazing how diminshed expectations taint your perceptions. Effusive Salesperson 1, Me 0.

I showed up for my interview, cautiously optimistic and dressed to the nines. I grabbed a seat next to four other potential candidates. It all felt distinctly like a cattle-call, but again I allowed the promise of a luxurious wage to quell my better judgement. After about 10 minutes we were greeted by an attractive young woman, informing us we would be meeting with leads for group interviews after their Monday morning sales meeting. I sat back and began to run through the buzzwords I had memorized to give the appearance I knew fuck all about sales.

I watched present employees file into a large room and close the doors behind them. They all seemed relatively young, but were all appropriately costumed in professional garb adding a sense of legitimacy. That sense dissolved 2 minutes later when the calm of the waiting room was shattered by the dull thump of loud techno music emanating from the meeting. Compounding the strangeness was a series of group cheers popping above the din, like a miniature pep rally. This was starting to border on surreal.

Ten minutes later the doors opened and they hurried out of the room like squirrels anxious to begin the harvest for the long winter ahead. I was grabbed by my lead, explaining I would learn on my feet for the first day. I was too dizzy and confused at this point to know this was not to be a metaphor. Their business model was simple enough, but drawn out and explained with a needless complexity to instill a sense of business savvy and legitimacy to it. They would drive out to business parks, areas of town with a high density of office jobs, and attempt to sneak in so they could go cubicle to cubicle and sell shit out of a catalog. Seriously. The high class business wear was simply to buy them the appearance of propriety so their sales efforts weren’t hindered by barely competent security details. At least they didn’t lie about the cold-calling – they bypassed that altogether with a home-invasion approach to marketing.

I balked immediately and plainly stated that I wanted no part of their unglorified version of door-to-door sales. I was absolutely livid, since the job was completely misrepresented and the day was basically a bust. However, since we were already “in the field” and I had nothing more pressing to do, I agreed to tag along until lunch, watching their efforts from afar. It was like watching a team of retarded ninjas plot assasinations with their shoelaces tied together. One other candidate, unfazed by my outburst, immediately began testing the perimeter for weaknesses like a caged, and likewise retarded, velociraptor. “Hey! It doesn’t look like this emergency exit has an alarm on it! Follow me!” he shouted while gesturing toward their destination.

He’s probably heading up his own branch office now, sending his soap-bearing minions into the field with hopes of achieving his level of success. I guess I’m just a quitter.




11 responses

27 11 2006

PFT. Sales and salespositions are dominated by retards. As much as I’ll insult you, your mom, and your sexual orientation, I won’t insult your intelligence. Dude, what in the fuck were you thinking, seriously? Did they promise you more dick than you could mouth while you mom worked the fluffing, genius? See how sly that last line was. Yeah, that’s right, you can delever the props here, at my cubicle, you plucky ninja.

27 11 2006

A comment like that grossly underestimates the amount of dick my mouth can hold.

27 11 2006
Paul Danielson

Haha. My friend took a job like that when our college degrees wouldn’t get us waiter jobs or jobs at Nordstrom. Door-to-door selling coupon books to a chain Mexican restaurant called Juan Colorado. I think I remember him telling me that whoever racked up the most sales in a given day got to stand in the middle of the “Winner” circle at the debriefing and get “props” or “juice” from the other salespeople.

I’m hoping the security in the Sears Tower is sales-ninja proof.

27 11 2006

LOL at rewards of corporate “juice”.

The whole affair just felt like a runaway train. Since I didn’t have the sense to run away from it, I figured I might as well enjoy the ride. The day was wasted, but it was a fair trade for the anecdote.

27 11 2006

juice, like man-juice. it’s called bukakke, pdan, don’t try to sugar-coat it; that’s what they’re doing to your face in the “winner’s” circle.

27 11 2006
Paul Danielson

But now that I’ve worked my way up to a prestigious attorney position, I get to be the bukakker, and not the bukakkee. Who says hard work doesn’t get you anywhere?

27 11 2006

I agree with VIM–you gotta get a full feed. I’m sick of clicking through for the rest of the story/swan with balls.

And when I tab from entering text here, the focus should go to the “Add comment” button, not to some random link at the top of the page.


27 11 2006

I’m pretty sure I don’t have the savvy to fix the tab thing, but I’ll play with it.

As for the feed, I’m actually not sure why my feed only displays the first few lines as there isn’t really that much variability on how a feed is configured. If you know how, I’m all ears.

27 11 2006

Great story.

27 11 2006
Avez Kristen

I can’t believe I inspired this! Guerrilla sales – that is crazy. What moron would buy this stuff?

I flat out didn’t show up for the interview. The guy called, and left a message on my voicemail an hour after I hadn’t shown up, saying (perkily) “We’ve fallen a bit behind schedule here at ProData, I apologize for the delay … so let me know when we can reschedule!”

Just the way he said it, I don’t think I was the only one who blew it off after visiting the website. They were at least honest that it was outside sales, but I am not doing it.

What you’ve shared here has given me the confidence of knowing that I made the right choice. Thank you so much!

2 12 2006

less jobs, more babies.

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