Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tova Darling's Totally Awkward Tuesdays

I've decided to participate in Tova Darling's "Totally Awkward Tuesdays" event this week. For the rules, as well as Tova Darling's story of the week, go here.

First, a little background:

When I was in high school, I had a paper route. I delivered the Washington Post to about 100 houses in my neighborhood. It was a short route -- around my block and the next block, plus all the little courts and half streets and cul-de-sacs off of both blocks. Just about everyone took the Post, and I found it easier to remember which houses didn't take the paper than to think about which ones did. It was easy work, folks tipped well, and I made a decent amount of money working just about one hour per day.

In college, "registration day" was a big event. This was before the internet revolution, and we had to go to the University's big arena and stand in lines to register for each class we wanted; it took several hours, and there were lots of vendors set up outside the arena.

* * *

So in 1984, I attended the University's big registration day event. Political candidates were giving away buttons and bumper stickers ("Geraldine Ferraro" button, anyone?); vendors were demonstrating their newest boom boxes with am/fm radio and cassette decks (dang I feel old); other vendors were giving free samples of various products and coupons; and the Wall Street Journal had a booth, giving out free papers and hawking subscriptions.

So, being the enterprising young woman that I was, I wandered over to the Wall Street Journal table and asked if they needed a paper carrier.

The man running the booth, "Bob," said he'd consider hiring me if I could show that I could not only deliver, but also sell papers, and asked if I'd consider a fifteen minute "interview" by selling a few papers while he went to get a soda and hit the restroom. I said ok.

So he showed me how to have folks fill out the forms and where to put them in case I sold any, and then he left and I began my sales pitch to the passers-by: "Try the Wall Street Journal for free today, and subscribe now for only $x.xx per month!"

Several minutes later, I hadn't had any takers, and I could see Bob returning across the plaza. I was determined to make at least one sale by the time he returned, so I stepped up my sales pitch: "Free paper! Yes that's right, free today! And only $x.xx per month if you'd like to continue to receive the best paper in the country! You won't beat that deal anywhere!"

So a college kid stopped and asked, "How much did you say it costs?" And I told him, and explained that he didn't have to pay anything today, he just had to sign up, and then they'd send him a bill, and he could cancel anytime within the first month without owing a dime. He looked through the paper and then said he'd prefer to get the local news, so he could have tv listings and such.

I said, "Oh, come on, it's the best newspaper available, and it's only $x.xx per month! Plus, you know you want to get the comics every day!" The kid said, "Well, maybe you're right..." and signed up.

I began my pitch again, and just as the next sucker ... er, I mean, potential subscriber ... was hesitating, Bob returned. I repeated my new-found, very effective "closing line," "Oh, come on, it's the best newspaper available, and it's only $x.xx per month! Plus, you know you want to get the comics every day!"

Bob said, "Uh yeah ... there are no comics in the Wall Street Journal."


* * *

And thus ended my career as a Wall Street Journal saleswoman.


(Bob did, however, hire me to deliver the Journal and the New York Times on campus. I guess he figured I didn't need to know anything about the papers just to deliver them...)
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5 comments:

SkylersDad said...

I love that! All you were missing was the used car salesman plaid jacket!

Lisa said...

awww man... that would have been awkward. You tried sooo hard. He should have realized that much! I guess he did if he let you deliver.

Good story. :)

Tova Darling said...

Hahahahahahaha!! That's awesome! What the heck is the point of having a paper with no comics?

LegalMist said...

Skyler's Dad -- there are some who would rank my current profession well below that of the plaid-wearing used car salesperson

Lisa -- hey, lesson learned, right? And I did get hired for the delivery job, which was all I wanted anyway. :)

Tova Darling -- I couldn't agree more. That's why I had never read the Wall Street Journal before that! Everyone needs a little humor with their daily dose of bad news!

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

Haha! At least you got the job. What kind of paper doesn't have any comics? Don't they know we like a little funny with our "end of the world" columns?