Saturday, August 8, 2009

I got a job the other day.

I have officially quit my job. And when I say quit, I mean I am just not going back. This week I had two days of orientation and one day of one-the-job training. What is the wonderful job I was able to get? Meat salesman. Door-to-door meat salesman. Yeah.

I showed up at The Cattle Exchange at 8:30 in the morning. We were supposed to be there by nine so we could start heading out with other drivers. Of course, we had to sit around and listen to more pointless motivational speeches until people were ready to finally leave. There were about thirty people in the class and we were getting pulled out one by one. Drivers were leaving pretty slowly so it was taking some time to get people out to train.

Eventually, a few of us just stood outside in hope of getting picked simply because we were in their line of sight. This worked out perfectly for me.

A tall, thin guy named Tim came up to me and said, “Hey, do you have a license?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright, let’s go.”

And I was off. I was lucky to be standing where I was because I’m sure everybody didn’t get the opportunity to go out and train. This would mean I would be at the store again today waiting to decide that I hated selling steak door-to-door. I’m almost positive a handful of people had to sit in that stinky, hot room for a few hours after I left until they were told it just wasn’t going to happen for them that day. I would have been livid, as I’m sure the rest of them were.

The company gives you a truck with a freezer on the back and you cruise around looking for people who like steak. That’s the job. The van Tim and I were assigned, however, didn’t have a freezer so we had to take one off of another truck and put it in ours. Not only was the freezer missing a part of the lid, but it wouldn’t stay closed. As you can imagine, this doesn’t help in keeping the frozen meat frozen for long. Our method of fixing this problem: Cinder block on top of the freezer door.

This meant that every time I had to quickly decelerate, the block would slide towards us and fly off of the freezer. If I hadn’t been paying attention it very well could have cracked one of us on the back of the head as the freezer was right behind our seats.

After we got everything loaded up we cruised to the area around my house. We hit Boulevard, which is known to be a bit on the shady side, and he starts yelling out of the window.

“Hey man! I got steak at ‘hood prices! Three dollars a cut!”

Normally, this might make me a little nervous, as he said he was making a point to look for “dopers.” However, Tim’s a black dude and I felt like I had a permission slip to be there.

After cruising around for a while and not making any sales, we decide to head north to Gwinnett where Tim had a client. We arrived to find that he couldn’t get a hold of him/her.

“It’s cool man, we’ll just get a couple of beers and head to my sister’s house.”

We headed to a gas station where Tim jumped out. “What kind of beer do you like?”

“I don’t care, whatever.”

“Malt liquor?”

“Sure.”

“Really?” He says this as if he’s never seen a white person drink malt liquor.

“Sure.”

He smiles, gets a little spring in his step and runs into the gas station. He returns with two 24 oz. cans of Crazy Horse Malt Liquor. We drive to his sister’s house and sit on her porch, drinking our beers.

Now, I know that the black community will often refer to each other as “brother” or “sister” even though they have no real familial relations. However, I thought these two were actually related. So when we were on Nelly’s porch, and Tim walked inside, I asked her, “So you’re Tim’s sister?”

This is when I learned they weren’t actually related. Stupid white boy.

This is also where I learned that if I need strippers for a party or if I want a “Hollywood caliber” girl to spend the night at my house all I have to do is holla at Tim.

We left after our beers and started looking for people to hock some meat to. As we were driving, Tim got a phone call. Well, actually, I got a phone call since he doesn’t have a cell phone.

“Hey, man, we gotta swing back for a minute. I gotta pick something up.”

This is when he decided to pull a five dollar bill out of his pocket and hand it to me. He felt bad that we hadn’t sold anything yet that day, but he assured me it would happen.

We drove back and he ran into the apartment. Fifteen minutes later he came back with an Icehouse 24 oz. can and jumped in the van. He offered some to me, but I politely declined. Drinking a beer on the porch is one thing, but drinking one while driving down the street in a company car is something totally different.

Icehouse in hand, Tim tries to sell to a car next to us at a stop light. He sees them laughing in their car, windows rolled up and says, “Hey, I wanna laugh too!” He eventually gets the woman to roll down her window and he starts talking to her. Not about the meat we were selling but random, everyday stuff. You have to set up some rapport before you try to rape them on meat prices.

This woman thinks Tim is trying to hit on her or something and gets pissed. The man sitting in the passenger seat of her car leans forward and stares at us as if he’s trying to burn holes in our faces with his eyes. This goes on until the woman finally says, “You want me to call the cops? Ima call the cops.”

The light turns green and we drive away, laughing. What could she possibly have called the police on us for besides the open can of beer that she knew nothing about.

We continued to drive around, knocking on doors, bothering people at gas stations, and we didn’t sell anything. The only productive part of the day was when I was walking back to the van after being told to go fuck myself and a little fat white kid came up to me. He was probably six years old and had red stains around his mouth, possibly from a popsicle.

“Can you fix my bike?” he asked me.

“I can try, let me see.” I flipped the bike over and saw the chain had fallen off. After a few minutes of messing with it I was finally able to get it back on. “There you go,” I said as I flipped it back over.

He smiled and hopped right on it. Cruising in circles and popping wheelies. I watched him for a little bit and talked to his friends before Tim came back and we drove on down the road. I usually don’t like hanging out with kids too much but talking to these kids made me feel really good. As we were driving away one kid ran next to the van and tried to race us. He got up to fifteen miles per hour. Not bad, little guy.

As the day went on, my sales pitch began to evolve. At first, I did it the exact way they taught us to do it in orientation. That didn’t work. I then tried to work the familiarity aspect and adopted a southern accent.

“How y’all doin’ today?”

That didn’t work either. Eventually I realized how I wouldn’t be doing the job after that one shift so I switched to survival mode. I would walk to people’s houses, trying to pick ones that looked as if the owners were gone, and give them my new pitch.

“Hey, my name is Josh. I’m selling wholesale steak, chicken and fish.” No bullshit. No sales pitch. Just the facts. I have this. Do you want it? No? Cool, have a good day.

We didn’t sell anything all day, meaning that we had a lot of product slowly thawing out in our shitty cooler. The sun was going down and Tim wanted to just get the food out of the van.

“Alright, we gotta find the ‘hood. We gotta unload these boxes.”

I guess he figured he could sell the boxes easily in an area of lower-class black people. Something tells me he’s done it before.

We end up not finding the black folk and head back to the store. We first stop at a motorcycle shop where his brother, his actual brother, works. We hung out and I talked to some of the guys that were standing by their bikes. People were drinking 40’s still in the plastic bag and smashing them on the ground when they were done. There was a pitbull chained in the bed of a truck, which ended up being a really nice dog. It was pretty “hood.”

We left there and returned the van, tucking our tails between our legs as they counted up the remaning boxes from our day.

After all of this I have made five dollars. That makes the hourly rate for the number of hours I was there around twenty cents an hour. Awesome.

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