Friday, September 16, 2005

Telephones and Carpets

I feel a bit guilty about being on the DoNotCall list. Afterall, one of my favorite jobs of all time was the 18 months selling Time-Life Books.

I went into the job believing that everyone I called did, indeed, recently receive a postcard from Time-Life about its Old West series, or its Aviation series, or its Cooking series, or its Nature series or ... well, you get the idea.

For several months, I was ticked at the U.S. Postal Service for its rotten delivery record for getting that important information to the people to be called during my four-hour shift (8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Monday-Friday).

With five others, I started the position with high expectations. We had all, we knew, passed the telelphone interview of reading back the long help-wanted ad in the Sunday's Seattle Times. We were smart, literate readers. Then about three days into our training, a big guy with an attitude commented while our trainer was out of the room, "In two weeks, only one of us will be left, you know." What a dork! I thought. We were smart! We were readers! We wanted to be here. He was wrong, too. Two weeks later two of us were still there: him and me. In the end, I outlasted him by a year.

So for the next year, I sold Time-Life books to a few people in Seattle (a tough group, I discovered), to more people in Portland, more yet in Calgary and Alaska (people used to buying by catalog or phone), and to, I'm sure of it, everyone in Forks, Washington. (Don't bother saying you're calling from Seattle if calling Vancouver, B.C., btw. They don't like us much.)

The job was great, and today when I'm short with a telemarketer who gets passed the DNC list, I feel a twinge of guilt. Just a twinge, though, because someone should have told the person that the Seattle area is a tough sell. There is still one group, though, who I love to hear from: carpet cleaners. I always say yes to them. They're cleaning my carpets tomorrow, in fact.