The sell out experience

I was educated in a lefty liberal Brazilian school most of my life. When I choose to study to be a journalist, I was an idealist with a purpose: expose the harsh reality to people, all the schemes and scams that go behind the scenes and have a direct impact into everyone’s life. I quickly learned that maybe the social reality was even worst than I thought, that people died in hospital beds for lack of governmental resources, lack of political interest in fix the health care system or lack of education. It happened because nurses thought it was nothing and rerouted people to the waiting area instead of calling a doctor right away. It happened because people thought it was nothing and waited for months before even thinking of looking for a doctor. It happened because the system has major flaws, and some people just don’t have the means to afford the same insurance I had. Me, the daughter of somebody who owns his own company. That is capitalism.

Journalism school gave me two things: the critical thinking of the capitalist system in an educated, theoretical point of view and a bitter disbelief in social change, which is most of the time shaken by my ideals and the evident necessity of change. Most people are now thinking “oh, she is a communist”, to which I would reply “no, I am not affiliated to any political party and, although I think the core ideas are pretty appealing, I still have many doubts about socialism being the solution for our problems”.

Anyway, after all that explanation, one may wonder what drove me to apply for a marketing job and actually take it. On the very first interview I understood the job was more sales than anythingelse, but I still told myself I needed the money and tried to go along with it. On the second interview, I was having second, third and forth thoughts, but I still went along with it because I was guaranteed it wouldn’t be door-to-door. Well, on my very first day, 10 seconds into what they call training and I would call brain wash, I knew it was precisely door-to-door sales. I wanted to run away, but I continued going. I was curious to see if what we were supposed to sell was something that could potentially benefit people.

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That afternoon, I was dropped of at a college area of Columbus with a trainer, someone who would conduct all conversations and show me what I was supposed to do in the field. I was looking at it as a sociological experiment, I knew I wasn’t going to become a door-to-door sales person at that point, that job just wasn’t for me. Since I stepped into the second interview, I had the feeling I was selling out, but I told myself I would manage to keep that feeling aside as long as I  believed people would benefit from whatever it was I was supposed to sell. That feeling got only worst after the training the company provided, full of sentences like:

“To make a sale you need to show the customer you care about him. Stay next to him. Show him your main concern is that he understand the consequences of signing of with you, that he will be saving money. Be friendly. Remember, the key is to make him believe you know what you are talking about and it is on his best interest to sign. Smile.”

When we started walking and knocking on people’s doors, my worst fears became true. It looked like a scam to me and the trainer was always giving me hints of how to behave in this encounters in order to close the sale. Hints like:

“You are being too polite, don’t ask people, command and they will do what you need them to do.”

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I was feeling completely out of place. It was harsh going door after door telling people to buy something I didn’t believe it was necessarily good for them. I managed to finish off the day and go back home. Driving from the office to my house was tough, I cried a little, thoughts of “what now?” rushed through  my head and before I sank into all this, I decided I was going to sing, get home, shower and move on. Problems will always be there, and there are other jobs a person can do. I am relatively young, I could find something better. Two days after that I was  training for a seasonal job, a temporary position that would allow me to continue my search for a real full time job.

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