six reasons why mrs. g. would never make it as a saleswoman


1) When Mrs. G. was in fourth grade, Blessed Sacrament School had a fundraiser selling See's candy bars. They came in a cardboard carton of ten and were five bucks a bar, we're talking highfalutin, pricy candy. Mrs. G. was ambitious and highly motivated when it came to homework and school activities, but she was tentative about walking up to strangers' doors and trying to hook them up with chocolate. She was tentative because she was shy by nature and because her grandfather had convinced her that 50% of males were rapists or killers and to keep her distance from 100% of them to safeguard her life if she knew what was good for her. So over the month Mrs. G. was supposed to be selling the candy bars, she began eating one or two. By the end of the month, she had plowed through the whole carton. Being Catholic, she went to Confession and told Father Stritch her sin, hoping he would absolve her and give her a few Hail Marys for her unholy greed and wicked affection for confection. No deal. He said Mrs. G. had to tell her mother about the candy and say fifteen Hail Marys. It was a rip all the way around in Mrs. G's mind, a violation of the sin big and go home Catholic Pact.

So Mrs. G. went home and confessed to her mother, who made Father Stritch look like Jesus on his most benevolent and patient day. She called Mrs. G. selfish and screamed "Thief" as she found her purse, pulled out her checkbook and, still screaming "Thief" wrote the school a check for $50. "You could of shared," Mrs. G's mother said as she began to calm down. She immediately started creating a chore chart that would take Mrs. G. about six years to complete to settle her debt. Mrs. G's mother still tells this story to anyone who has ears, usually in conjunction with a discussion of Mrs. G's weight. She means well and she did, after all, have to fork out $50 for pure d sin 37 years ago. Recognizing she had a problem, Mrs. G. avoided school fundraisers from then on out -- no wrapping paper, no Easter Lilies, no nothing. She left the Brownies when the cookie push started getting serious. She couldn't be responsible for eating all her mother's co-workers Thin Mints. 


2) In high school, Mrs. G. worked in an antique shop for two years. Shoppers would come in and complain about the high prices. Mrs. G. would direct them to less expensive teddy bears, baskets and the box of Judy's caramels (25 cents a pop) on the counter, but they inevitably were looking at at a fancy armoire or brass bed with swans carved in the headboard. Mrs. G. would feel guilty for the expensive prices and call the owner of the store and try to convince her to lower the price...the people were so nice and really loved the piece. Anne would always say no and Mrs. G. would have to hang up and nervously tell the customers she was powerless and so, so sorry. They often bought the piece anyway and Mrs. G. discovered the art of haggling. She hated it. She still does.


3) In college, Mrs. G. began canvassing for Greenpeace and she was Eugene, Oregon's most ineffective Rainbow Warrior. The salary was based on commission, so Mrs. G. studied all the pamphlets, knocked on doors, braving rape and murder if a man answered, and earnestly explained the exceptional elements of Greenpeace's mission. If it was dinnertime, she apologized and left. If people were tight on funds, she apologized and left. If someone shut the door in her face, she apologized and left. The most Mrs. G. learned on the job besides enduring relentless rejection was that if there was a windsock hanging on an eave or a Volvo parked in the driveway, the chances were good she would earn a few bucks. She still feels guilty when she looks at whales. 


4) Mrs. G. doesn't mess with any pyramid schemes or attend candle, purse, jewelry, vitamin, Tupperware or Pampered Chef parties. She knows she would get sucked in by fake compliments and guilt from the hostess and end up eating the cost of the starter kit. She just doesn't have the positive, do-anything-for-the-sale mentality. Once, a condo across from Mr. and Mrs. G's was on fire, literally burning to the ground. Their upstairs neighbor (who they had met once briefly) tried to sell them Amway laundry detergent while the fire engines were rolling into the cul-de-sac.


5) In August, Mrs. G. tried to sell prepared foods at a posh grocery store. She couldn't deal with the snotty, always in a hurry customers, roasted organic chicken frenzies or olive tapenade. She lasted three weeks.


6) If Mrs. G. doesn't get a good job in January, she is going to sell herself as a middle-aged street prostitute. She knows there are men who hanker for bespectacled women in Eddie Bauer wrinkle free shirts, Dansko clogs and excellent hair, 46-year-olds who like to sing Joni Mitchell and read Sharon Olds aloud for fun. She knows she could run circles around this job, sell herself (and folksongs and poetry) like nobody's business.

Or work for Amazon, one of the two.

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Reader Comments (24)

As a Brownie, I managed to sell only 2 boxes of cookies. Thank goodness no one trusted me with a box full of chocolate bars when I was a wee lass.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent

Oh, Mrs. G!! Not another sales gig!! Please!!

I am actually a great saleperson when I believe in the product and I believe the customer wants/needs the product. But in too many situations, that's not the case. Maybe that's what you need to focus on (s0 in fact, selling your wonderful self is a good deal!!!)

I had a horrible period when I worked as an outside salesperson for an "electrical supply company" - read that as "light bulb salesperson." It involved rustling up my own leads. I totally couldn't do it. I could barely get myself out of the house.

I've been doing event facility sales now for some 10 or more years, and the customers come to me, I don't even have to go looking for them.

Of course when your product inventory is limited to 365 units per year (days), you make your sales goals pretty easily. But even s0 - if it's a good match I'm a great one to close the sale. My only problem is if I think it's not a good match? I can't do it. Especially when it would be a bad deal for the customer, I really feel bad if I contract with someone who hasn't figured out their numbers right and end up taking a loss.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

You can't be a middle-aged street prostitute. A lot of those men ARE rapists and killers. Your grandfather's prophecy will come true and I know you loved the man, but who wants to give him that kind of "told you so" satisfaction at this late date. Better to go to your grave without being murdered and/or raped so you don't have to spend the afterlife with your grandfather saying "I told you..."

For for Amazon. Unless you find they are populated by rapists and murderers also.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Damn you and your reason, Cindy (smiley emoticon). You know I'm kidding about the prostitute part? I know you do but I just had to make absolutely certain you weren't worried about me out hooking in my clogs.

December 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

I liked working retail only because it felt good to help people find gifts & books (I was at a drug & sundry store in college and Barnes & Noble for 3 years) and I loved to create displays. But trying to sell people things they might not really want was not for me; I actually recommended that many customers go to the library or used bookstore instead of paying ridiculous prices.

Godspeed; may you find the perfect, legal, non-life/values threatening job. :)

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie (bad mom)

As a high school freshman, I had a contest with a friend to see who could eat more Ghirardelli chocolate bars (being sold by the band). I ate more than one a day, spent most of my babysitting money, and "won" with 30+ bars consumed. The prize? A humongous zit on my nose.
When my dad (he's not much of a food moderate, either) heard through the grapevine about my chocolate consumption, he told me I had earned that badge of pain and humiliation. I think the zit lasted an entire month. On the other hand, I didn't have to work hard to sell bars -- I was my own best customer.

I happen to love PartyLite candles and think they are wonderful, but I do not sell them because I prefer to have my friends feel comfortable around me. (When I hosted a party, I really did mean it when I said to please come and enjoy a margarita with me, no strings attached.)

Please don't stress on the job front. At this point in the school year, I imagine there are plenty of folks needing tutors. Do you have any feelers out? Your clogs are too cool to use for hooking.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

The only time I did sales was for the high school pompon squad. We sold Jolly Rancher suckers, and the best part was getting to drive Way Out West--the other side of town--to pick up boxes of suckers from the Jolly Rancher plant (now closed). I wasn't particularly good at selling; the pretty girls enjoyed the best customer base. Most of my sales were pity purchases by my family or friends and neighbors. I ate some myself, too. Those cinnamon ones were goooood!

Amazon, eh? Maybe you can get in on the ground floor of the Amazon Drone Squad.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDATdeborah

My daughters are Girl Scouts. Worst time of the year is coming! Cookie sales starts on January 1st. All three of us hate sales.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTraci

I once took a job selling encyclopedias door-to-door. I have NO idea what possessed me. We were told to lie and say that we were from the school board and were taking a survey. When people discovered what we were up to (we worked in teams of two) it was NOT pretty. I lasted one night. And as a bonus, the guy who was our boss had his girlfriend in the car with us. She dared to disagree with him about something and, while driving, he smacked her good and hard across the face.
I don't know if he could have been a rapist and murderer, but he was surely a batterer and I was outtathere.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterknittergran

SOUL sister!!! I couldn't sell a life vest to a drowning man, a glass of ice water to someone lost in the desert or a rescue boat to someone stranded on a desert island. Not in my DNA! Gad, I hated fundraisers.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter1Les

We were born of the same pride. I have not a wit of salesmanship in me. I grew up on a rural street - very few neighbors and not one of them gracious to little girls hawking chocolate bars. I now, once again, live on a street with relatively few neighbors and I don't make my kids go knocking door to door. I don't want to ruin my excellent standing in the neighborhood ;)

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commentershrink on the couch

No worries, Mrs. G. I've been around the Manor long enough to know.

Although, I guess if worst comes to worst, clogs aren't a bad choice. You want comfortable shoes for all that standing around on the corners in between jobs. (I'm sure that's not the right term but "gig" is the only other word I could think of that doesn't seem right either. I'm woefully ignorant in prostitute vocabulary.)

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Cindy-I think the term is either "tricks" or "johns." I don't know why I know that...

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterknittergran

Perhaps that is a Derf contribution post right there Cindy - professional/clinical language for prostitutes and other specialist professions.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertrash

did you ever see the cartoon of the doctor handing a couple a pair of Birkenstock, the caption reads- birth control.
I think you might have to give up the clogs to get some Bus-i-ness!
I am only good at selling pot...tery...

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermeredith@whynot

I was a sales person and financing person in a large chain furniture store for one year in order to have real finances on the books with the IRS to go back to school. (I had a crazy job working as a skip tracer for a PI for 3 years, but that was off the books.) I had books to read stashed under the cushions and in the drawers of the end tables all over the store.

I mostly gave out referrals to the consignment store down the street and enlightened people to the existence of quality mail order slip covers. I just accepted minimum wage and gave up on commission.

We had the most ignorant clueless guy that worked there. Amazing sales records. He didn't discuss the quality or features, he would just stare at them with his dumb slack jawed face and ask..."Are you ready to buy that?" OMG. Most of the time on big purchases, people are just waiting to be pushed a tiny bit to decide. Drove me crazy.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermolly

You cannot possibly be the worst salesperson there is. That would be me. I didn't eat the candy, but I did stick it under the bed for about three months, and when I turned it back in, it had that dusty-dusk look like it had been in the freezer.

And I gave a "home party" or two, but if the spokesperson didn't sell stuff, it didn't get sold. I just sat there, then put out Paminna Cheese sandwiches and Lime Sherbet punch. The last one was one of those "art" things, and when nobody bought ANY of the high-priced things, I was so embarrassed and sad for the nice lady that I offered to BOOK ANOTHER PARTY. Wuss.

Feeln' better and brighter every day,


PS You DO know that hooking in clogs loses all its appeal---if you back up to a lamppost and try to put one foot up behind you, they'll fall off. Every time. Way to ruin the mood.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

I ate a box of Campfire Girl cookies when I was in 4th grade, threw up and my mother grounded me from going to the ballet and told everyone what I did to get grounded. I still feel the humiliation and won't eat mints.

I have the ability to sell, but I realized a while back that I just don't enjoy most professional sales people and have no desire to become one.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrightsideSusan

Our childhoods are eerily parallel! I too went to Catholic grammar school and was expected to sell candy bars door to door, and failed miserably. It's even possible that I stole a candy bar or two and my mom had to pay for them.

I also worked for an environmental agency, going door to door for contributions, getting paid on commission. I quit after one day.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatience

As a Blue Bird (Camp Fire Girls), we had a fundraiser selling Heath candy bars. I had never tasted a Heath before, and quietly stole one. Oh. My. Goodness. I ended up eating the entire case. I know my mom and dad had to pay for it, but I don't remember the (certain) firestorm (there HAD to have been one). What I'm left with is every time I buy a Heath bar, I feel shame! Still love them, but definitely a "guilty" pleasure!

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Carol

Some people have the personality for sales. I don't. D does, in spades, but I struggle even asking people to buy raffle tickets for worthy causes. I just CANNOT.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Girl in Wisconsin

I worked at JCPenney for about 9 months and hated it. We were expected to 'upsell' of course, pushing catalogs, catalog orders and credit applications. No one wanted to order from the damn catalog, they wanted their merchandise NOW, and we were a very small store that didn't stock everything the larger stores had. We still had the same sales flyer, however, so the customers expected us to have the sale items. Why wouldn't they? I cringed when people walked in with flyers in hand expecting to walk out with that exact blouse...sorry, Charlie. And I couldn't push credit card apps on people after dealing with a regular customer who had not one but TWO Penney's accounts and both were maxed. She brought a pile of stuff up to the register. I rang it up. Card declined. I took something off. Card declined. We continued this until she was down to a stupid teddy bear that she apparently HAD to have and that was all the credit she had available. Sad.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterauntjone

My coworkers and I had a conversation about sales jobs recently. My coworker's fiancé had just lost his job and she was considering a second job to help get them through the difficult times. I said, "What about a product sales thing? So you can set your own hours?" So we all stood around talking about various products to sell. I am extremely self conscience and hate being the center of attention in any situation, so standing in someone's house selling a product is NOT an ideal job for me. However, I did it once. I could never, ever talk people into buying something. But I could show them products I love and let them decide though. I love to cook and bake, so I sold Pampered Chef when I was in my 20s. I managed to do so only because I loved the product and I wanted everything they sold. I was a single mom in my 20s with very little extra money. So, I sold it for a short period of time - I didn't care if people bought it, I was required to have 4 shows to get the starter kit at a very low price, and I got a discount on the other items. So that was my only goal - sell it long enough to get everything I wanted for a lower price. I ended up doing many more than 4, but only because people booked shows from the 4 I had. I did not do all the sales tactics that they tell you to do - call your friends and guilt them into throwing a party and inviting their friends. Money doesn't motivate me to sell stuff, I can't sell something I don't believe in - but I can tell people about a product I love and let them have a choice.

I still love Pampered Chef - many of the products I got from the perks are still in my kitchen today (almost 20 years later).

My coworker who was thinking about it said she didn't think she could do a product sales job - but if she did, she would consider selling Pure Romance (adult toys). She said it is a very profitable business. I think they are a local business, but I'm sure there is another product in your area... just a thought. ;)

December 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

You and I are 100% the same as salespeople--thought it turns out I am really good at selling a product I believe in--my students.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

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