Relive this this one as it happened!
So I took this job with this company that made me show up for a whole day of work. They want me to sell coupons door to door for 6-8 months and then they promise that they will make me rich. I’m guessing that I last until Thursday.
It’s Sunday now. I walked around all day with this guy on Friday. I slept all day Saturday. During our walk we sold like 4 coupons, but I did get to see two sort of cute chicks and a guy with no legs.
The most eventful visit was to the loneliest family in the history of the world. The family was an old husband and wife and their daughter. While, the daughter argued about whether the restaurant we were pitching charged extra for fries (they assured us they had very little cash. The guy I was with said they have like Denny’s prices and the woman said “Denny’s is really expensive!”) I got to listen to the old man talk about how their friends got them a white limo and took them to a medieval restaurant for their recent 50 year Anniversary. Then I swear to God his wife came out with a picture album and made me look at pictures of the limo! We were with them for twenty minutes and they passed on the coupons.
Another woman said I’d like to buy it but I would have to clear it with my husband. Wow, I’m willing to be someone’s slave and this woman can’t even spend $25 dollars without asking her man. Life is so unfair.
I’m hoping that I get a good tan and lose a couple of pounds. Experts predict that I won’t last past Tuesday.
Another Day Another Job
Well, it’s Wednesday night and Yes I quit this morning after walking my ass off for two scary days. All I can say in my defense, is something along the lines of the famous Danny Glover retort from every Lethal Weapon movie. “I’m getting too old for this shit.”
What I had to do
These people wanted me to peddle “buy one get one free” coupons Monday Thru Saturday for 8 hours each day. When I walk over to the Farmer’s Market, my ankles start to ache and that’s like a block and a half away. Additionally, you have to show up for another three hours in the office before and after you do your peddling. During these office hours you had to constantly be “high-fiving” each other over how many coupons you sold and how glad you were to be alive. There’s nothing more annoying to me then having to fake being upbeat and full of enthusiasm to please the man. There is nothing worse than being forced to publicly give a bunch of “high-fives.” What am I, a party horse?
Everyone gets together in the big office at the beginning and the end of the day. The big office has posters with what they call “the Big Five and the Big Eight.” The “Big Eight” was pretty similar to the Boy Scout’s Oath. You know Brave, Clean, Reverent. Essentially, the big 8 was instructions for being the happiest and most friendly person in the history of the world. It was stuff like “Be awake. Be cheerful. Be on time. Be ambitious. Be a Leader. Help others to get ahead” and of course the most important one “Use the law of averages.” Twice in the “Big Eight,” they misused you’re as your.
The “Big Five” were their methods of making a sale. This was the big Five
1) Introduction Use the S.E.E. method (Smile, Energy and Enthusiasm)
2) The short story – Kiss it (Keep it Short and Simple)
3) The Pitch
4) The Close
5) Re-hash (Eliminate the zero)
The Re-hash was trying to sell more than one coupon to the same person. “Eliminating the zero” meant that if you offered them the choice between 2-3 coupons that they would forget that they could just buy none.
So here I am. Lazy, cynical, old and jaded in the middle of a bunch of kids right out of college incredibly excited about how much money they were going to be making in another year. I asked a girl if she minded working 12 hours a day 8 days a week doing what they all admitted could be done by Junior High School kids. She actually told me that she loved it and couldn’t wait to get up in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, these people were either incredibly nice or incredibly brainwashed.
The coupons sell for $25 a piece. The person who sold it gets $10. They expect you to sell about ten a day. So if you do average among these super motivated people you’ll make about $25-30,000 a year for your 70 hours a week.
I sort of felt bad for being involved in a marketing/advertising/selling job, but I tried to tell myself that I was actually selling something to people that was worth buying. In the meantime, I kept thinking about Bill Hicks telling his audience at the beginning of each show “If any of you in the audience are in advertising or marketing, please kill yourself … No really you are the lowest of the low. The suckers of Satan’s cock each and every one of you.” To say the least I entered conflicted.
Even the executives admitted that selling the coupons sucked, but they said it was essential for understanding the business. They assured you that just months ago they were doing the same thing and that now they got to all sit on their asses all day and make a ton of money. Essentially, the only work they did was trying to find new people to take your place selling coupons. There were about twenty five people selling coupons in each office. Supposedly after about two years they would all have their own offices and be making a quarter of a million dollars a year. The woman who ran my office was named Lindsey. She was only twenty four and she constantly looked like she was wired on speed.
My first day
I was assigned to this really nice, but bland guy named Jonathon. We would go out selling together. They estimated that I could go off on my own in about five days. Until then I would receive $50 a day.
The morning meeting was at 10 AM and filled with speeches. The top six sellers or so would get thirty dollar bonuses for selling the most coupons in the office. By the way, I was told never to call them coupons. They were “VIP cards.”
Each bonus winner had to “High Five” the entire office and then give a speech on how they had managed to be so successful. Each person would have to make up something silly on the spot about following the “Big Five” or the “Big Eight” or using the SEE method or letting the law of averages work for you. Amazingly to me at least was that these people were all really smart. A lot of them had MBA’s and Law Degrees. Jonathon had worked for Morgan Stanley. My god how bad are the rest of the jobs out there? After the end of the short speech, everyone would cheer for you and then you had to again “High-Five” everyone in the office. My God, I would pay thirty dollars not to have to do that.
Men were required to wear slacks and a tie, but most of the people there were wearing expensive suits. Me? I wore the same tie all three days that I was there.
After the awards, there was a presentation and an example of the “Big Five.” This was followed by more cheering and more “High-Fives.” These people even High-Fived each other out on the streets outside of the office. Essentially, the faker and more cheerful you acted the quicker they stopped making you sell coupons door to door. It was a big smiling contest. Really, I swear from day one I had just no chance of surviving.
Then I met with Jonathan and we worked on the “Big Five.”
Here was the spiel I had to give.
“Hi! Nothing serious, I promise. My name is Brad and I am here today to represent the #1 pizza chain in the area and to give away lots of free pizza.”
On day one the #1 pizza chain was Dominoes. On day two, it was Papa John’s.
“This may sound stupid, but ‘You do eat pizza don’t you?”
“We’re looking for one or two families that spend about $25 bucks on pizza in a month! Does that sound like your family?”
I wasn’t allowed to just ask them if they ate pizza. I had to “hook” them in with the “You do eat pizza don’t you?” question.
“You know I’ve been hooking all your neighbors up with a bunch of memberships.”
Then they would show the customer the ten receipts that they gave you to show people in the office that morning.
The first question Jonathon asked me was “Why do you think it’s important that we smile?” What is this fucking Mr. Rogers? I felt like a complete moron.
Jonathon told me that we were going to be selling that day in a Spanish neighborhood. He then got another girl to write out the whole pitch for me in Spanish.
“Ola! Nada Serio! Mi nombre es Brad!”
I was assured that the people who spoke no English were amused by the whole thing. Then we left to sell door to door. The first thing I learned that day was that apparently Spanish people set a whole bunch of water jugs on their front yard to help ward off evil spirits. Then again, maybe that was their way of saying “No Solicitors.” I found it more than amusing that our office building said “No Solicitors” on it, when in fact we were solicitors and we were told to ignore “No Solicitors” signs. One guy angrily told Jonathon “Can’t you read the sign?” and he calmly responded that he had thought that it had said “No Smoking.” The guy with the sign was not amused.
After about ten houses, Jonathon set me off on my own. The first round was Noon-Three. Most of the people home on the first shift were elderly or kids. Not many coupons were sold on the first shift. You were essentially there to know which houses to skip during the more productive rounds two and three.
It was a complete nightmare. I swear to God, Every single house had no buzzer and a steel door with many pinholes. Knocking on a steel door hurts. Especially, if you do it every four minutes. No one ever opened these doors so most of the time I had no idea if I was talking to a seven year old or a seventy year old. If they didn’t speak English, I was supposed to read them the script, but when I did they all just looked at me like I was insane. Then they would say something in Spanish to me. Then I really panicked because I had no idea what they were saying to me. For my nearly eight continuous hours of walking and repeating the same thing over and over again, I managed to sell one coupon. Jonathan sold about five.
Back in the office by 9 PM, anyone who sold at least ten coupons had to ring a big bell. After much cheering, these people would again have to talk about how they successfully used the “Big Five” and the “Big Eight.” Of course, there was an unbelievable amount of required “High-Fiving” to do. I sort of slunk into the back and tried to avoid people, but it didn’t really work. Believe me, these people were desperately intent on “High Fiving” everyone in the office.
At around 9:30, Jonathan gave me my $50 and told me I could go home. He then stayed for at least another thirty minutes or so presumably to discuss how they could get me to enjoy my “High-Fives” more.
That night I really wanted to quit, but I told myself that I had to at least make it through a week or I was a pussy. As a result of my mixed feelings, I got about three hours of sleep. The next morning. I was exhausted and my entire body was sore. I couldn’t bear to imagine how I would feel after twelve more hours of this nonsense.
My complaint about the Spanish neighborhood has gotten me switched to a guy named Rod, who after a month is already one of the best sellers in the office. Rod was a player. I would eventually notice that Rod didn’t care one bit how much money he made during the day. He was just trying to move forward in a hurry by selling a lot of units. I asked Rod what he would do if the first person offered to buy every one of his 25 coupons for $15, the $25 minus Rod’s $10. Rod told me that “He’d sell them and then we would go kick it at a movie!”
At the morning meaning, every person who had sold ten coupons the day before had to again “High-Five” the entire office and reveal the secret to their success. I was more than a little appalled. It was like being forced to joyfully cry out “Hurray, I made minimum wage yesterday!”
All that day, as I slumped my exhaustedly spent body up and down those streets, I wavered between quitting, crying about how awful my life would be for the next 8 months and thinking about all that money everyone promised me that I would be making. I sold three coupons in day two. It didn’t help that every mailbox had free Dominoes coupons in them. One guy said “Hell if I want Pizza coupons I can get them out of my garbage receptacle. Rod sold about eleven to get us over the bell number. Well he sort of did. He sold about five to his family and friends for cost.
When we got back to the office, I was pretty sure that it was my last day. As soon as we could get to the bell, both Rod and I had to ring it together. I then had to explain my success. I assured everyone that “I had just tried to stay out of Rod’s way.” Then I had to high five everyone. About ten minutes later we had to do the entire thing over for the people who hadn’t yet gotten to the office when we did it the first time.
The last straw came at about 9:30. Rod started to give me $30 dollars for the three coupons I sold. I reminded him that I was guaranteed $50 and he said “sorry” and gave me another $20. “Dude you aren’t covering my $50 are you?” I figured the head of the office would cover my training salary, but I was wrong. Essentially, Jonathan and Rod’s reward for being slowed down by me was that they had to pay me $50. I thought about Bill Hicks gave Rod my final High Five and decided that I was done. The next morning I called in not working there anymore.
Oh well, at least I still haven’t sunk to selling weight loss formula and erectile dysfunction treatment. Although I do feel like one of those guys who rang the bell to quit the Navy Seals in GI Jane.