We all have to earn a crust, and some of us are even lucky enough to not completely hate what we do for a living. But at the end of the day, when all’s said and done, you are only there to pay the bills, so if you can find something that you’re truly happy doing you are fortunate indeed.
I have no complaints about my current job, (beyond the usual parochial little gripes that afflict all working environments) but as I mentioned in my previous post, my all-time favourite job was as a trader in garden furniture.
Some similar furniture, yesterday.
Now I grant you this doesn’t sound all that thrilling on the face of it, not exactly an executive washroom sort of career move, but having just spent four years in a fibre-glass laminating workshop with inadequate ventilation in summer and no heating in winter, doing anything that involved a lot of stuff outside seemed like a refreshing change.
Although it didn’t start outside at all.
I’d done a few months of abortive “direct sales” rep work before (for a double-glazing firm, a timeshare company, and a website that recommended safe public venues – bars, restaurants, etc – for dating couples to rendezvous for the first time) and wanted to find something a little less reliant on faceless canvassing teams to find my customers for me.
Looking through the local paper, I found an advert for a sales job, no other details, with just a mobile phone number.
I rang up and the bloke who answered told me he’d be in Barnstaple that afternoon to see the outgoing rep, so could I meet him at the shopping centre where he was currently trading.
Having said I’d see him later, I went down a couple of hours early and got the lowdown from the guy who was leaving.
It turned out that the current sales rep was off to Canada for a year, and was busy trying to sort out passports and visas for the trip. Since he was obviously a bit stressed, I offered to look after the furniture display whilst he went in search of travel documents.
So after a quick explanation of the basics, he disappeared and left me to oversee his stock.
I saw no reason to act like some sort of mute security guard, so when a couple came up and showed an interest in the display, I strolled over to them and went into my hastily cobbled-together sales spiel.
(The beauty of the sales pitch was this;
i) All the furniture – sturdily constructed timber tables, armchairs, benches, swingseats, and seated arbours – came fully assembled, removing the “Oh, I couldn’t put it all together” excuse from the customer’s arsenal of escape routes from buying something.
ii) Everything was delivered to their door, anywhere in the UK, thereby depriving holiday-makers of the “We don’t live round here, we’d never get it home” obstacle to purchase.
iii) The deal was strictly Cash on Delivery, so claiming you left your wallet in your other jacket wouldn’t help allegedly-interested-but-financially-embarrassed punters either.)
I soon discovered that my natural talent for talking at people until they surrendered was a useful tool with which to give them the final shove into something they clearly wanted to do anyway.
So by the time the sales manager turned up to interview me for the job, I’d taken nearly £2000 worth of orders.
Looking slightly taken aback, he asked me if I had a clean driving licence, (which I did, having only learnt to drive recently, since we moved to Devon) then asked if I could start the next day.
Well of course I could.
I just needed to get a little more info about, well, all of it really.
You see, up until this point, having not started driving until relatively late in life, the biggest thing I’d been behind the wheel of was my £300 rusty and ancient Rover 213 automatic.
I was now presented with the keys to a 3.5 ton box van full of heavy wooden tables and chairs, without the slightest idea what I was meant to do with it.
A van like mine. Furniture not included.
I was given a brief crash course (no pun intended) in van driving, and just as importantly, loading, a process not unlike playing giant wooden Tetris with furniture, and that was it.
Apparently I was now fully trained.
Which was good, because I now had to go and find somewhere to park the van overnight, before being dropped in at the deep end, going to my first job at Launceston Steam Rally the very next day.
Having established that there was only really one place I could leave the fully laden van and be sure of it’s security, I headed for home.
Arriving at our permanently double-parked, narrow cul-de-sac, I just about managed to do a three(ish) point turn in the cramped circle at the bottom of the road, and with some relief drove up to park half on the footpath outside our house.
Sadly, falling at the final fence, so to speak, just as I pulled up there was a nasty crunching noise from behind me.
Climbing down from the cab with a sinking feeling, I walked back to find a sad little pile of multi-coloured plastic at the rear of a car parked outside my neighbour’s house. I had caught the very last obstacle on my maiden voyage a glancing blow with the metal step on the back of the van, ripping off the rear lights and putting a foot-long crease in the bodywork.
Knocking on the door, I apologised profusely to my neighbour’s friend who owned the car and promptly rang my new boss to give him the bad news.
He took it quite well, considering I’d only been employed for about an hour, but then said “Ah, hang on there may be a problem with the insurance”
This didn’t sound good, and sounded even less so when he came back on and said that he’d checked the individual employee excess on the drivers insurance policy, and that it was £1000!
Oh brilliant. So I’d got a new job, and on my first day it had cost me a grand.
But wait, he’s telling me that they’ll work a way round it.
Just get her details he says.
He’ll sort it all out he says.
Could happen to anyone he says.
Laughs about it, even.
I think I might like working for this bloke…
As I was saying to Ron over at Vent only today, I had no idea what I was going to write in this post so forgive me for rambling, I shall continue the story in my next post.
Don’t go away…