For more years than I can recall I’ve maintained that I’ve never been fired. In fact I’ve maintained this with such conviction for so long that when people would surprisingly ask, “Really?” I had no hesitation in explaining that the ONLY time was a falling out I had had with a company in which it was one of those television moments where we essentially said “You’re fired!/I quit!” at the same time.
“I’ve never been fired.” Narrator: “He had.”
Recently I had been talking with someone about personal history I had with a few old friends. I had made mention of how I used to work for two of them and… oh my… wait a minute… I… I… was…. fired by one of them? My modern world was shook. My truth for nearly 30 years was torn down as I was now explaining how between these two friends, not only had I been fired, but I was fired from one of my very first jobs.
So a little background. I dropped out of high school my senior year amid a general atmosphere of malaise and indifference. Many I had known had dropped out and were making a living just fine, and in the ultimate act of instant gratification I figured “I can do what I waaaaaaant” with zero repercussion (this of course was not true.. but that’s a different post). Now with no school to burden me through the day, I was free to spend those hours however I wanted. With no money. Hmm, I feel I should have thought that through a bit longer.
So enter said friends. My older brother had worked for Foremost Industrial for a short while as a telemarketer. I don’t recall him loving it, but I do remember he at least was able to pull in a few paychecks before moving onto something else. The friends I’m referring to were both a manager and director I believe. If they read this they know who they are and I’m sure they’ll love to correct this as I still talk to both of them on occasion. So they accepted my application and hired me on. Cronyism for the win!
I start my first day, look at the call scripts, and get my call list. I’m selling machine tooling. “What the fuck is machine tooling?” If I remember one of them even told me in great detail what it is. Probably something like “you have machines that cut and stamp parts from raw castings. These machines use a variety of tools to do this and these tools either need to be replaced or have cutting implements that need replacing.” Or something similar. Needless to say….. I STILL had no idea what the fuck machine tooling was, but I was not deterred! I would sell the shit out of this!
Or so I thought. I’d like to think there was a less effective salesman in the history of sales. Surely there was someone out there who actually COST a company money on his time working there.. more than he made them. Regardless, two weeks had gone by and I hadn’t made a single sale. Even more than this, I still didn’t know what the fuck machine tooling was. The plainly evident lack of sales did not escape my friend nee director. I was called into his office that Friday morning and fired. He was kind, he was compassionate, and most importantly his job was to make sure his sales floor was selling. He told me I didn’t need to finish out the day, and I’d still be paid my base rate. More over, and I don’t know that he’s ever heard this, I was relieved. I hated sales. I hated pushing something I didn’t understand to people who didn’t need it (they did of course. This was just my pre-judgment on telemarketing). Looking back on it, those were two of the most stressful weeks of my life.
But we aren’t done yet.
As I’m heading for the door, my manager (another friend) tells me “Good news! He said you can stay on as long as you make at least one sale!”
I just wanted to go home, but I also didn’t want to let down a good friend. He not only got me the position to start with, but now went out of his way to vouch for me in an attempt to save my job. I was annoyed and exhausted, but I agreed with him over my back to make one sale.
And to show just how bad of a salesman I am, I couldn’t do it. I listened to every cue, every suggestion, and if I remember right even got on the phone with my of my clients. I am to sales what Charlie Brown is to football. We got to the end of the day and my manager, defeated, said “Well at least we tried.”
And we did. We tried.