Short Stays On The Job

by john on September 13, 2003

Erik asks, Have you ever quit a job by simply not showing up the next work day?

Yep, twice. In both cases after only one day on the job. Guess I’m a pretty good judge of a bad job. Now in both cases I already had a full time job and I’m talking about a second job, and of course I’m also talking about events that transpired in my youth, as of course I would no longer do such a thing. 🙂

In the first case I answered an ad for a telemarketing position. I don’t remember how they pitched it to look attractive enough to apply for but something about it must have caught my eye. The job turned out to be selling magazine subscriptions over the phone for a charity organization where a portion of the proceeds would go to the charity. Sounded like a noble effort.

I started on a Monday with about a half dozen other people. We were shown our desks in one big boiler room full of row after row of desks, all facing the front of the room where there was placed one single desk, placed to face toward the rest. On that desk was a switchboard and behind that desk was the Task Master. Basically his role was to listen in on people’s conversations. Of course you never knew when he was doing so.

On our desks we had a placard that held our basic scripts and a few phrases to use when facing objections from the prospective purchasers. We each had a portion of a reverse-directory phone book which instead of being organized by name is organized by address. Apparently there are areas where it is easier to sell into and the long-timers got those lists. I guess the perks in this job were few so you got to look forward to moving to new areas as you stuck around. Interestingly enough I learned that the areas of town that you want to work were the blue collar middle class neighborhoods as they tended to be the easiest sells. People in poor neighborhoods can’t afford to spend money on magazines and the rich don’t spend frivolously, certainly to someone over the phone. Everyone was shooting for those middle class parts of town but only the elite telemarketers got them.

As a Day One Boy I got squat. Most of my calls were responded to with “You want me to buy a magazine for charity? Look, I could use some charity myself”, “Sorry sonny, but I can’t read” or “Flip off.”

It was not a good experience. And at the end of that day I decided I had had enough and there was no way I was going back for more. Except for the fact that among the group of people who had started on Monday was a pretty girl who I seemed to share a spark with. Seeing her again was the only reason I went back on Tuesday. Apparently the spark was not strong enough for her – she didn’t show. So I waited until the first available break period about 2 hours into the day, walked out the door to my car and never returned. Two weeks later a check showed up for the exact number of hours I had worked, including the first two hours on Tuesday. I got the feeling they had seen this before.

The other job was also in Sales. Certainly the strangest job I ever held. Also the shortest. I showed up in the morning and was paired up with a guy I’ll call Joe (I’ve long forgotten his name). Joe explained that our job was to sell merchandise to businesses. He showed me the goods we would be selling – sleazy posters and gold chains, mostly. After telling me how the commissions worked he announced that we were going on a road tri First, we needed a car. After asking around for available cars Joe managed to scrounge one u It may be that this story has grown over time but I swear that I remember it as being a car from another employee that was on a road trip with someone else.

So we get in the car with a trunk full of goodies and start off on our road tri Joe says we are going to pick another guy up at his house, let’s call him Jim. I get introduced to Jim as he piles into the car with a big grocery bag. A bag with a 12-pack of beer and a liter of brandy. We pop the first beer about 10 minutes into the trip. It’s now 10:00AM.

We leave St. Paul and head down to Rochester. This was back in the days when Rochester was full of porn shops and they were our target audience for the day. We split into two teams, Joe and I and Jim alone, and went door to door to every porn shop in Rochester hawking sleazy posters and gold chains. After a few hours we gave up having sold nothing.

So, back to St. Paul we go. More drinking, smoking, and loud music. We get back around 5 and I go home having had a good time but never really understanding how I was going to make any money at that. I figured I had enough drinking, smoking and loud music at night and on the weekends and I really didn’t need it during the day too, so I never went back.

And I never did get paid for that day.


Joe Grossberg September 15, 2003 at 1:23 pm

How’d you find the, um, “Sales” job?

And why didn’t you bother with at least a “Sorry, this job isn’t for me” phone call to the taskmaster?

Joe (who doesn’t sell gold chains and porn posters)

P.S. My first job was (mostly) in the kitchen of Nathan’s Hot Dogs at a mall in NJ. I did give them notice, but they had such a hard time finding decent people who’d work for $4(?) an hour that I ended up working longer *after* I gave notice than I had before.

john September 17, 2003 at 11:05 pm

Both were newspaper ads. This was long before Monster. 🙂

Nicholas Corwin May 25, 2004 at 2:50 am

Wow! And I thought I was the only one. Early this morning, I reported for my “sales” job here in San Diego, the white trash, flash and trash capital of the Western Hemisphere.

I had been to this outfit’s office the previous week for a “preliminary” interview, which I passed. At that time, I inquired directly as to whether it was Multi-Level Marketing, something I consider sleazy and dishonest, and want no part of. The fellow doing the interviewing wasn’t a totally bad sort, and he said no. I was hoping it might be worthwhile because their advertisement said “Participation in the military or competitive sports a plus.” They had pictures of athletes on the walls, so I thought that perhaps the owner was a conservative, anti-drug type. Adding to my hopes that it was on the up-and-up, on both occasions I was there, they asked me to wear “business attire,” and I complied.

Well, this morning, there were a whole bunch of other guys (and a handful of women) there for “observation training.” These men looked like the dirtballs down at the criminal courthouse when they are making a half-assed attempt to look human. For them, “business attire” consisted of hideous, ill-fitting pseudo-dress shirts, ties and slacks. Very creepy. My fifteen-year-old J. Press poplin suit, white shirt, polished Oxfords and silk foulard tie (all from palmier days) must have looked utterly ludicrous.

Well, I met R., who was to show me the ropes. He was pleasant enough, but looked rather stupid, thanks to his slack mouth and filmy blue eyes that always appeared shut. He promptly led me out of the office and to his car, a filthy junker with a missing right-rear window and out-of-state plates. Two large cartons of junk were in the rear seat, and the front was full of junk, along with an ample amount of dirt and several packs of Camels. The overpowering smell in the car was not, however, that of tobacco, but rather some kind of cheap musky deodorizer, probably the kind sold at car washes.

On the walk to the car, R. asked me a few routine questions, nothing offensive. When we got into the car, I repeated my question of the week before, and when I mentioned MLM, he said, “What’s that?” So I explained that it was the pyramid system, practiced by one or two very well-known firms, and that it is “borderline illegal, at best, you know, the FTC is always after them.” (What a nave twit I can be–this guy didn’t know the FTC from the man in the moon.) He didn’t have anything to say to that. He then opened up a dirty binder with dog-eared pages in it and wrote down my name, what I had studied in college (!), and what my “goals” supposedly were (to make money, duh). I noticed that he had several pages of these entries, and that his handwriting was nearly illegible. Oh, and did I mention that the guy was missing three or four teeth in his lower jaw?

At some point, he asked me if I had a car. When I replied in the affirmative, he asked me where it was parked, and I told him that it was in front of the office, around the corner. He informed me that we would “go around” selling, that we would make perhaps 30 sales on 300 calls. That didn’t bother me, because I do know that sales work is like that. We pulled out of the back lot, and I asked him who our customers were. Businesses? Did he have a territory? He replied vaguely, “Anyone, man. On the street, wherever. Just sell.” Creepy…He then asked me casually how old I was. I’m 38, and I told him. He told me he was 28. Then I joked that you aren’t supposed to ask that, but quickly added that I didn’t mind.

Well, to make a long story not quite as long, suddenly he pulled into a parking space not far from where my car was. He turned to me and said–quite without rancor–that he was sorry, that it wouldn’t work, that I wasn’t the right type. This caught me so off guard that I didn’t know how to respond. I said, “You’re throwing me out? Why? Did I offend you somehow? I was just kidding about the age thing.” He said, “It was what you said about [the well-known MLM company].” Finally I realized it was just the usual old con game, and I left immediately. Perhaps the guy thought I was a cop or an undercover agent for the FTC, the AG or the DA’s office. If he did, he’s a certifiable moron, because any undercover agent worth his salt wouldn’t go in there dressed the way I did!

What a dirtball! He was probably selling black-market plastic junk; the company calls its salesmen “distributors” and claims that it is in the import-export business. Good Lord, there is so much sleaze out there!

One other thing puzzles me: Each of the three men at this company who shook my hand used some kind of weird griIt was firm enough, and clasped the whole hand, but the middle finger was kind of splayed out and pressed against the inside of the wrist. It didn’t hurt or anything like that, but it was quite noticeable. Does anyone have an idea what this might mean?

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