Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Knock Knock

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fruit flies in abundance are just the price to pay for living above a green grocer. I kill at least two a day and there are many more.

Today was my day-long interview with Emerald Direct. I’ll tell about as I found out about it. Having acquired a part-time job, I was going into this mainly with the mentality of just having something to do and honestly something to write about! The company didn’t seem legitimate from the first interview, but I was there for the experience.

Sitting in the lobby with eight other people around my age I felt a little like John must have felt with he did an interview with a bunch of other people that seemed more like a revival. This style was a little different. I got there right at 11:45 – on time – but I was the last to arrive. We all waited long enough for the Shakira CD the receptionists were blaring to play a little over half way through – I would know, it’s one of the few I’ve bought over the years. It was weird to me because they were still answering the phones and talking to each other over the music. It was as loud as I’ll play it in my car sometimes when I’m by myself and conversation is not needed. I heard the base thumping club music start up somewhere distant. There was another girl in the room that gave me a look like “what in the world is that and why am I even here”. Since I wasn’t taking this serious I found it rather amusing. I still couldn’t figure out if it was coming from other offices or a club testing out their sound system downstairs. My name was the first one called. I was taken to meet Michael – a top sales distributor. I was told I’d get to follow him around all day from 12-8. WHAT?! I was expecting to be home by 5. Well, I would definitely not be serving out this whole interview, but for the moment I was intrigued. We walked downstairs and others followed all with their assigned shadows for the day. Michael seemed like an ok enough guy. A little nerdy looking, but that’s best in these situations. There was another sales distributor named Alex who was Russian. You could tell he thought a lot of himself. He had an Armani Code sweater on with spiked Mohawk hair and fingernails cut into points. I could never figure that one out, especially since they were trying to sell a product called Avani – a Dead Sea nail treatment kit. His nails looked more like an Avani gone wrong experiment. Michael told me the day would be about me observing and asking questions at any point about anything. We would take a lunch break around 3 and the system and pay rates would be explained then. I was still questioning this whole thing and wishing I had brought my mace with me. Zach seems to think it is illegal in this country. I did pull out an ink pen to have on me. Not that I really thought I would need to stab anyone in the jugular and run, but in an unfamiliar situation you can never be too prepared. Some might call it paranoia, I like to think of it as always being prepared (a Girl Scout’s promise) and aware of my surroundings. I’d sized up Michael as a tall skinny guy I could trip easily if needed. Later in the day he proved a few times I wouldn’t need to trip him – he could do that on his own.

The company used a direct marketing approach to sell their products, so basically they were door to door sales men. The kind you normally shut the door on. I thought this was enlightening that I got to go around with these people and see the other side of the operation. It’s all about the experience for me. I’d never have the time to take a look at different sides of life back home. This is like four months on hold for me. There were 3 groups that hopped on the bus to Salthill, the community to the South I walked to a few days ago – takes about an hour walking. Michael paid for my bus ticket. I thought that was nice of him. Poor guy has a smoking habit. A lot of foreigners do. Monica had to leave the other night for a smoke break and Grace took a few too. Although I think Grace is a ball of nerves, so it calms her down.

Michael and I went door to other door (rotating with another pair) for about three hours trying to pitch the nail product. He was actually a really nice guy. We talked about a lot. I would have left sooner, but I was enjoying the conversation. I asked him way more questions about Ireland, life and general stuff than about the company. He didn’t seem to mind. I could tell he liked having some company. He told me about how he was on track to be very rich and retire by the time he was 35. I guess it could happen, but I doubt it. These guys put in 50 hour weeks. 10-8 M-F and Saturdays if you really want to get ahead.

There were a lot of dogs around Salthill. He said he had run into a few before, but not this many. What can I say, I attract dogs. There was one lady who had a cute little thing named Misty who came out to lick us when Michael rang the doorbell. The lady wasn’t interested in the product, but neither was I. I asked her about Misty and she said she was a mutt from the GSPCA. I got excited and told her I thought that was great and I had offered to help out there when I could. She smiled and we went on to the next house.

I asked Michael if he had been anywhere outside of Ireland. He told me about the incentives program with the company and getting to travel to England (where the company is based over here- supposedly it was originally an American company). I said that sounded fun, but I pressed on…anywhere not with the company? He relented and told me he had been to Greece. Not with the company, but with a partner in the company. The company seemed to rule his life. Could be a good thing, but not for me. I asked him about Greece. His face lit up when he talked about it. He went to Corfu. I got excited and explained to him I had just checked out a chapter book from the library about the Greek islands. I had read the first chapter and it was about Corfu! I knew it was close to Albania and a little about the topography from the book, so the conversation wasn’t just one sided with nods and oos and ahs.

He kept telling me it was all about keeping a positive attitude and high momentum. I found out that the loud bass music was from the company. It is the atmosphere room. Supposedly the idea came from America, starting with Nike. The point is to have loud music to get people pumped up with lots of energy. There is jumping around and shouting at the beginning of the day. The theory is that you have to raise your voice to talk and so it starts out at a higher level and then over the day it stays at a higher decibel so people can hear your pitch, same with the energy. Sounds alright on paper, but I’m not so sure. I think you also have to really buy into it for it to work. I asked him if he ever thought about what he would do if he were the one getting the knock at the door. Would he buy the product? He was honest with me and said that when people came to his door before he started this job he would answer and keep them there as long as he could seeming interested then say no way right when they thought they had him. I noticed a few people doing that to him today too. What goes around comes around I guess.

He mentioned something about a girl he worked with laughing at the littlest things and it kept the positive energy up. He said some phrase, but I said it seemed like her giggle box turned over. I asked if he’d ever heard that expression. He said no that it was weird how even though we speak the same language there are so many differences in expressions. While I think the term giggle box turning over might be just used for little American girls, it is nonetheless a phrase I like.

There is evidentially a problem with Jehovah’s witnesses. In the area because he would explain to people it wasn’t Jehovah’s or religious. We still had a few doors slammed in our face. It was kind of funny. I wouldn’t have been happy if I were the one trying to sell off commission though. The Spiel: Hello, you doin ok today? [answer] It’s nutin serious or religious or nything like that, but I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of product called Avani. [no] Brilliant. That’s why I’m here. [hands over a sample] It’s the new dead sea treatment blah blah blah.

The whole thing reminded me a bit of selling Girl Scout cookies, but I never got any doors slammed on me. I was a little girl; it’s a lot easier then. Plus, everyone loves cookies!

At our three o’ clock lunch break we ate at a café where I picked up a strawberry cupcake – possibly one of the best cupcakes I’ve had. They can really make desserts over here. I had already eaten a meatball sub as the special of the day at 11:30. I listened politely to them explain the system and moving up to management, but I politely declined to go any farther. I thanked them for allowing me to spend time going around with them and said I was looking for something less time consuming while I was here that I’d still like to get to see some of the country, but I wished them well and walked out of the café.

While I was going around with them I had received two phone calls. The first was from Ann-Marie (not Marie-Ann with Amnesty). Ann-Marie was the owner of the bakery around the corner! I called her back and she said she did not have any bakery positions; however, she was in need of someone to help out with child minding (babysitting) for her. I said I’d love to help out and she asked me to meet with her on Thursday morning at 9:30…boo, that’s when the bus leaves for the islands. That will have to get postponed. The second phone call was from Mrs. Kester (Charlotte couple) inviting Zach and me over to their apartment for dinner tomorrow night. Cool! She asked if we had any food allergies or if we were vegetarians or anything we just didn’t like. I said I think Zach is good with whatever, and I’m not a fan of seafood, but I have no other objections. It was fun for me to get to say that and not have to go down a list of things I didn’t like or just avoid eating. I walked back from Salthill not wanting to pay 2 Euro for the bus and enjoying the beach walk. I had about 40 minutes before The Gaff closed to do some posting and check e-mail. Zach had a frozen lasagna ready for dinner and then I went to the library to finish up some internet surfing I didn’t get to do before the Gaff closed. When I got back I addressed the finger situation…

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