Looking back to my formative years, it’s fair to say that I’ve had a few crap jobs in my time. So it feels right to share my hideous experiences. One that instantly springs to mind was when I left university and, in my desperation to find work, I took a position as a vacuum cleaner salesman… Commission only.
This was not any old vacuum cleaner, oh no. It was a Filter Queen. Despite having a name that makes it sound like an overly camp man who insists on only drinking percolated coffee, it was actually a very good product. And it still exists. Quoted from the website (formatted to 1990s style 4:3 screen ratio):
The future of clean is now. The FilterQueen® Indoor Air Quality System uses its proven technology to create a cleaner, healthier home environment that is protected from harmful pollutants such as dust mites, allergens, viruses, mold spores and bacteria.
Are our houses really so disgusting that they are rife with such things as ‘mold spores’? Well apparently so. So, out with the old vacuum cleaner technology and let us usher in the future. We all need an indoor air quality system. I’m choking in here.
I jest, but it did kick ass. It beat all the competition hands down. So it must have been a dream job, earning me stacks of commission, right? Well, not exactly.
To start with, it cost about as much as a small Caribbean island. Such as Jamaica. But that was, of course, before ‘discounts’ were applied. Do you have an old vacuum cleaner with virtually no market value? Great, that’s £200 off. Are you able to pay in one installment? Another £200 off. Or are you able to pay in several installments, with a credit agreement secured against your house? Awesome. £200 off. Are you even listening to a word I say, or has my 3 hour sales pitch rendered you into a hypnotic semi-conscious state? Scrub that last £200.
Talking of the sales pitch, it was a complete ball-ache to go through so I decided to take short cuts. I went to the demonstration as quickly as possible. That way people would see that they just had to have a FilterQueen®.
Unfortunately, some of the customers were less than hygienic to start with. One couple made quite an impression on me. I ran the cleaner across the floor next to their bed, only to see that many tiny pieces of something indeterminate were whizzing around in a whirlwind of detritus. I opened it up to find that they were toe nail clippings. A small hiccup of vomit entered my mouth. I wasn’t sure what to say… Another couple had just completed an extension to their house. Their carpet had more sand embedded in it than the Sahara. It was like vacuuming a sand dune.
Add to these horrors, being turned away at the door of appointments, and having to deal with colleagues who were stereotypical dodgy salesman, and you’ll understand why I didn’t enjoy the experience. I lost the job after a mere two weeks, after growing tired of the bullshit routine of phoning head office “to see if I can get you an extra discount”. One of my managers took the role of master negotiator a little too seriously and actually seemed to believe that he was a vital cog in system, using some intricate formula, tapping away furiously on a calculator for several agonising minutes to finally ascertain that the customers qualified for… £200 off.
I once told him that “the clock is ticking”, whilst waiting for his go ahead on a customer discount. It was… On my employment. I just didn’t appreciate the 65 year heritage of FilterQueen®. I had to go. Thank God for that.