My career so far in life as been more cameo appearances in odd jobs with weird people. In Australia I was having limited success measuring my degree with illuminating job prospects. And desperate times can indeed lead to desperate measures – as I realised when I got lured into my first major sales job based purely on commission: my first full time job in Australia. Whilst it wasn’t quite the right job, I had a month to fundraise for Bali and was even ready to try a bit of door to door sales.
The interview was in an office with a guy who supposedly paid his own tuition for university on the back of the sales, he was smug because he was obviously a huge success and had been for years. I think after that I shouldn’t have taken this job. So having completed the intensely tedious two day training I got out into the field with the ‘sales guns’. Sales people are obviously major tools, this you can gleam from the bat. On that first day I was being driven around to a hole of a suburb with a self-professed bogan. The lines this dude was using were innovative of an Australia most people would be pretty desperate to state didn’t exist. For example, his favourite place in Victoria was Mildura which was because it was a relaxing, rural enclave which was “always filled with white people,” which naturally he liked because “he only liked white people.” And he continued, he was intensely resentful towards Indian people because they got the best pitches, to the public he would literally insult the person’s house and the person within – whilst they were walking towards the door and within earshot. He enjoyed referring to people as dumb fucks who he actively tried to screw into rigid electricity contracts. Instantly I realised this was a job that had no emphasis on job satisfaction and all about the money, therefore I got quite a bit of satisfaction when the guy could only master one sale on that day.
Perhaps though the most worrying thing he said though was that “you can’t have a conscious to be successful in this job,” really, I should have walked then. What he meant by this was that the language used to get the sale meant you were commanding the people to change electricity companies without even offering them that question. As my bogan nemesis implied, you were relying on the stupidity of people to getting those sales. How sad there was a serious supply of stupid people who bought into buying electricity with these guns.
So I went around by myself on the second day and managed to get a sale, this was very disappointing in retrospect because it made me stay in this job longer than I should have (i.e more than one day), from then on I strolled around equipped in my ‘electricity’ uniform, compendium in hand and a growing tendency to self-destruct on a random person’s doorstep. Obviously I completely understood that people didn’t want to talk to me.. but at the time I was stumbling in random suburbs of Melbourne receiving multiple texts from my managers trying to get the recruits to compete like dogs. Frequently the text would say somebody had got a sale, so the following people who haven’t got a sale were getting left behind. After all, we weren’t getting paid so we really were wasting our time. These texts were making me feral, I didn’t believe myself to be psychologically competitive in nature, it was just the way that we were sales figures first, people second. If this texting were the personality of a man it would be brittle, insipid, self-involved and seriously shallow, like my manager to a tee in fact. This job seriously blew. And it blew a little further when the manager was trying to use the white is alright policy to sell more electricity. This was a truly poisonous environment.
I had tried to resign after the first day I didn’t get a sale. To my horror I was sold into coming back to work, I was furious at myself for promising to come back to a job that was making me want to swallow acid. Now I can laugh but then, walking around in my shell coat like I was contaminated, I seriously thought I would have a psychotic episode in the suburbs. Like I was an extra on some suburban sob story like Revolutionary Road or Desperate Housewives.
Jobs admittedly have never been my strong point… but this was ultimately woeful. The final pushing point was the day I had decided to resign. We were stuck in traffic as a team, I was curiously silent when everyone was mirthfully discussing visiting prostitutes, taking drugs etc. Suppressing the urge to vomit, we then drove past a group of Japanese tourists and my least favourite bogan happily attempted to deadpan: why can’t we nuke them. The bile was threatening to spill all over the manager’s company car. Thank God we were literally touching base. The thought of spending another ten minutes with these individuals was making me seriously consider whether to hitchhike on the motorway instead.
I left the next morning. Although I was stuck talking to the people who clearly didn’t want to pay me. This had been going on for weeks, with false promises of payment until, finally, I saw some much needed $ in my account. And so ended my week in sales. Most people end up doing a sales role which turns out exactly as mine did… but it felt like a cathartic experience to tell you how lame my personal experience truly was. Fingers crossed the next job I end up doing in Oz will involve me on television, earning thousands of $$$ or steeped in job satisfaction. Whatever happens, you guys will be the first to hear all about it, now let us talk about Australian holidays…