Thursday, June 08, 2006

Death Of A Saleswoman

Numerous times over the past few years I've had friends tell me that I should give up my lucrative newspaper career (as if!) and work from home selling catalog merchandise, like Pampered Chef, or Creative Memories. I'm a little disappointed that nobody has ever asked me to host a sex toy party, though. Maybe I just strike people as too virginal and pure of thought for such carnal things. Number one, I'm not all that sociable, and the thought of opening up my home for hostess parties makes my stomach lurch. Number two, I'd rather work consistent manual labor than attempt to make a living by selling things because the truth is, as a sales person, I absolutely SUCK. My heart palpitates just thinking about the dreaded duty of collecting money. That's the key reason to why I refuse to organize any more homeschool field trips or have any part of an activity that involves monetary transaction because it makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable to harangue deadbeats to pay up.

My peddlerphobia started back in my high school days. As a sophomore with one open elective, I decided to get in touch with the natural Infidel within and take a Wildlife Management course with the F.F.A (Future Farmers Of America) program. Mainly because we got to cut school sometimes to go fishing as part of the 'rigorous' curriculum. As a preppie wannabe complete with Girbaud jeans and Polo shirts, I distinctly stood out among all the Bubba rednecks and cowboys in the class. I didn't own a pair of boots, hated NASCAR, and I coudln't even line dance or sing "Achy Breaky Heart". It was the ultimate slacker class for me and the only thing I clearly remember from that year in AG involved more chewing tobacco techniques than you could shake a shiny spittoon at.

Every single school organization holds fundraisers and F.F.A proved to be no exception. However, they did things a little bit differently. While the Choir, Band, and Drill Team sold candy, gift wrap, and overpriced cheap novelty crap directly imported from China, for their Fall Fundraiser, we sold sausage. Yes, sausage. Swallowing my pride and extreme embarrassment, I took that glossy colored sausage brochure up and down our block. Often, I tailed right behind the more successful candy selling students who were unloading their chocolate at a clipped pace. At first, I felt encouraged, and cheerfully chirped out, "Hi! Would you like to buy some sausage to support F.F.A?" To which, people either laughed or gave a wrinkly nosed, emphatic, "NO!", really quickly, and shut the door. What??!!?? They acted like nobody's ever sold them sausage at their house before. I tried another sales maneuver by using my very best Oliver face and voice. With sad, hollowed eyes, I hit the next potential customer by saying, "Please sir, would you care to buy a bit o sausage?". Still no luck. I finally gave up at the end of our very long street when a guy asked me if the sausage was any good. I told him that the brochure described the product as "farm fresh and delicious". Still doubtful, he asked again, "Yeah, but have you actually tried it?" Feeling irritated, I sighed heavily, and not a little snarkily told him, "Well sir, If I had the product available to me, I would have toured the neighborhood with my Mom's electric skillet strung around my neck dispensing free, hot samples. Just like the sample lady at Kroger's. Then would you deign to honor me and revel joyfully in my sausage"? The man mumbled something about me being a "smart ass teenager", and slammed the door. Don't despair, all was not lost. My Mom bought a bunch of sausage out of pity, and it really did taste good. At Christmastime, while the other groups sold poinsettias and pecan logs, we peddled cases of fruit. Another wildly UNsuccessful venture.

Question Of The Day: What's the weirdest thing you've ever been involved with selling? I defy you to top being a door to door sausage saleswoman.

18 comments:

omar said...

I've never had to sell anything that fun... I've strictly been a candy guy. My brother sold knives door to door, but that was not a fund raiser, that was a job. It's always easier to sell stuff when you're getting paid to do it.

Mimo said...

I was one of those annoying perfume sales people, I also sold cookbooks, but both of those jobs were mainly business to business.

Lianne said...

OK... ice skates. I was the manager of the "Pro Shop" at the Santa Monica Ice Capades Rink, where many Olympic hopefulls trained. I sold ice skates to the countless hoards of young Olympic wannabees.

(On a side note: Blogger is really bugging me! There was no word verification a minute ago and I keep getting error messages when I want to post a comment!)

Elizabeth-W said...

Hey Omar, was it cutco?
The worst thing I had to sell was Blue Bird cookies. I remember going to a door and an old man asked if I'd "give him some sugar" which at least in Houston, meant, give me a kiss first. It was my grandmother's neighbor, but I still felt violated in a vague 7 year old way that something was wrong about this picture.
Today I saw a lady who recently converted from Mormonism to Jehovah's Witness. We were talking about her social anxiety which she seems to not have when she goes out witnessing.
I always felt that going on a mission felt like sales. I'm not very Alma-ish (O that I were an angel...).

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Omar, While I'm sure that your brother is a decent guy, I'd be hesitant to open the door to a strange man wielding a knife collection. Maybe that's just me though. Now, I would reconsider if he was wearing a chef hat and brought along a small cooking table, and demonstrated some suave Benihana cooking moves for me. Nothing tastes finer than food that's been tossed in the air. Sho Nuff!

lianne, blogger has been having major problems the past few days. I wish I knew how to set up a web page like you and omar. As for your former profession only one thing comes to mind. "ICE, ICE BABY"!

You're right elizabeth. I have the utmost respect for missionaries too because even though I believe and have a testimony of the product they're selling, I personally just can't muster up the courage to tell many people about it.
Lecherous old men demanding kisses in exchange for cookie sales=EEWWW!

mimo, Thanks for throwing in the word, "annoying". It saved me from being offensive!

Radioactive Jam said...

I have this vague memory of trying to sell siblings...

Elizabeth-W said...

I'm so glad you said that--I feel better knowing I'm not the only one. There was a good talk in Conference in April about making your home a "gospel-sharing home" and the speaker actually told us to relax about missionary stuff a bit.

As an aside--Do you work for the Chronicle? Here's my brush with greatness: It has a comic strip called Tank McNamera. When I go to family reunions there, one of the creators of the strip is at the fiesta. Do you feel sooooo incredibly honored that I peruse your blog? sigh...no I didn't think so. ;)

jams o donnell said...

Hmm I cant add to this as I have never sold a thing in my life (ebay excluded). I have always worked in the public sector and was an idle so and so as a teen and a student!

Oh hcehck back on my blog.. I have a lead or two for you

Moi said...

I've never had to sell anything. From the sounds of it, I am blessed.

wendela said...

Back then, I loved selling. And now, I can't stand selling anything. Nothing I sold even comes close to sausage.

I sold loads of raffle tickets for my school's Harvest Festival, chocolate candy (for school) and cases of cookies when I was a Girl Scout. But no sausage.

I did set up a daily kool-aid stand across the street from a neighborhood construction site when I was about 7 or 8 and cashed in all summer, and also sold my quite confident "works of art" (drawings) at a card table in front of my house when about 6 or 7 years old (and, yes, they all sold- I guess the passers-by thought it was cute and/or enterprising). But no sausage.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

radioactive, Regarding a "Brother For Sale"; Been there, done that, got the spanking.

WOO HOO elizabeth! That connection makes you this blog's very first relative of a pseudo celebrity commenter. The creator of the strip, Cleats, which I think is the same guy as the creator of Tank McNamara, is always making guest appearances around here. Especially at soccer tournaments.

Jams, I tend to disagree with you about your sales experience. The way you "hawk" Hawkwind to the blogging World is a form of salesmanship. I still need to hunt them down on the net and have a listen. Thanks for the tip. I highly recommend The Delays. Most notably their new song, Valentine. Sublime!

You've truly led a charmed life, carrot.

wendela! Long time no blog. Sounds as though with your selling expertise you likely would have been successful at peddling sausage. I get discouraged easily and exemplified petulant teenagerhood. Neither of which helped sales, I'm sure.

Elizabeth-W said...

so sorry elastic--wrong part of the tank team. Now I'm feeling really lame.

Miss Biotech said...

I don't have much experience in the sales realm.
The only thing I ever sold was baklavah. I used to make it a twice a week for s little pastry shop "Europa Bakery) off of Louetta. The owner had convinced me that it will be a hot-selling item. He was right.
I don't see myself as a saleswoman though.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Baklavaaaaaaahhhhhh. MMMMMMMMM. What? I'm sorry, were you saying something?

Syar said...

cookies....not weird enough. t-shirts...man, that process was dramatic but not weird enough.

in high school, I was part of the peer counsellors. what we did was basically, have friday noon meetings and bitch about each other, creating opportunities for "counsel". I was one year, appointed the editor of the bulletin for this society.

selling the issues was a bitch because I had to use the services of snot nosed juniors who couldn't count 2 dollars without getting a nosebleed.

that was simply annoying. still not weird enough. man! Ima go out and try and sell something weird.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Try the flea market syar. Good gracious, I have seen some weird crap being sold there. We like to go to just look around and people watch. One booth was selling medical/surgical equipment. Scalpels, suture apparatus, shiny scissors, all laid neatly out on a card table. More velvet oil paintings than you can shake a stick at. One vendor sold turtles, snakes, and pet COCKROACHES! People in Texas blow an extraordinate amount of money to kill roaches and this guys turns around and domesticates them by placing them in festive little aquariums.

Syar, I'm just not sure if you can compete in the big leagues of selling oddball stuff. That's not such a bad thing.

Syar said...

I'll have to agree. One less career to pursue.

Raesha D said...

Girl Scout Cookies was my only childhood sales...but mostly my dad sold them at work so I don't ever remember having to go door to door. I lived in RURAL Washington growing up so we didn't do much of anything door to door:)
PS Thanks for the awesome birthday postcard - it arrived ago and I have been slacking in the TY department:) Richardson is quite the character.
PPS I feel exactly the same way about missionaries. I LOVE the gospel...but I'm terrified to tell anyone about it.