I picture the perfect summer evening by relaxing in a comfortable in my back porch with something cold to drink and surrounded by my friends. Unfortunately, I was stuck up every morning at 8AM, driving to some random location somewhere in Connecticut and proceed to hock items at people who walk by. Sounds like a wondrous summer, right? It was definitely the agonizing summer everyone would love to never experience in their lifetime.
It was the summer after my junior year from college and like always, I was left without a summer job due to inept planning and a lazy mindset. Actually, for this particular summer, I was planning on a summer job at a mail processing center where my mom works but plans fell through so my ideal and hefty paying summer job was a figment of my imagination. While living at home with very few cares was great, I eventually felt like a bum and decided to go look for a summer job. Thankfully, a friend of mine, Erik, was in the same boat as me.
I’ve known Erik since middle school and we’ve remained friends through college; he goes to Providence. In fact, we made it a mini-tradition to go see a few concerts over the summer, such as the Warped Tour or other gigs. So having Erik around, along with the possibility of working together, was a spirit booster during a time of inner turmoil and impending lack of funds through college.
We hit the usual hotspots near my house, since I live near several strip malls, such as Toys ‘R Us, RadioShack, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, FYE, Blimpie, heck, even PETCO! But much like my fortune, no one was biting until an excellent turn of events unfolded right before my eyes in front of a Shaw’s. I was met with a smiling, young man wearing a suit and he commented on our style of clothes. Bewildered and confused for a moment, the man suddenly threw t-shirts in our direction. Suddenly, I immediately knew what was happening, I was in the throes of a salesman – the t-shirts were adorned with the DARE logo. In the end, that’s what their job is: raising money by selling items for charity.
I recognized all the classic signs, the enticing greeting, the smooth talk, the quick hands, the lightning-fast placement of items into my hands and the rapid-fire succession of money; I was in the presence of the typical salesman. Little did I know that my desperation of a job would eventually lead me to one of the most painful job experiences of my life. If only I had a time machine so I can go back and tell my past self to not take this job; I’d rather suffer at home than baking in the 100 degree summer day weather.
The pre-interview jitters were getting to me as I was anxiously waiting in the reception room. Community Events (previously located in East Hartford, CT, now in Cromwell, CT), I’m going to admit, I didn’t think too much of the name; I actually felt it was a pretty laughable name to be honest. Obviously, that’s not something I’m going to mention to the owner of the company though. Along with Erik and me, there were probably 3-5 other people sitting in the reception room. I immediately noticed they were all the same age as me and I assumed they were in the same situation as I, desperate for a quick summer job.
The actual interview was an experience in itself because it was different than your typical interview. Instead of your usual Q/A session, I actually went out with two salespeople to a location somewhere in CT, in this case it was a CVS in Storrs, CT, and I observed the two salespeople as they did their job. I was constantly told that if I was free to leave at anytime and was given strict instructions to not interfere or assist during sales too. So for several hours, I stood in the sun, scribbled notes on my hand-pad as my trainer rattled off notes and observed the two salespeople (two ladies, aged mid-to-late 20’s) do their sweet talking and selling various items for charity. Thankfully, the day wasn’t too hot and there was plenty of shade so the whole ordeal wasn’t that terrible.
Once the day was winding down around 4PM, we packed up the table and the items and drove back to East Hartford (at the time) for a quick interview with the company’s owner (a rather financially successful middle-aged woman) and I was offered a job. I’m going to admit, I was completely naive in the deal, I was absolutely happy that I got a job but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The insanely early mornings, the constantly shuffling of heavy ports (the boxes filled with items to sell), the constant cramming of information and sweet-talking tricks, the constant yawning, the constant yelling at people to come over; all of these lead to the crippling summer job. It was a harrowing experience but also a knowledgable experience because it gave me some experience in talking to strangers and somewhat expertly selling products. It’s the art of legal swindling; a job like this is one step above selling stuff from the trunk of your car on the street corner. You’d be taught on how to sell items and how to pull fast-ones over people because using charity as a scapegoat (in a good way though) is a good way to get people in the giving mode.