Selling Southwestern Company Books one summer

Marian from Ireland and I

I KNOW I promised to write more about Fred today.  If it  counts, and I think it does, I am listening to him while I write this.  I am effectually doing deeper research in order to properly update the  Angels post that was promised. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I look absolutely terrible in this picture.  I look so bad The  Husband should of said NO when I asked.  This is what 3+ hours in the pool will do to you. Frizzy unkempt hair, semi raccoon eyes , dry red skin and uber wrinkles.   It’s 5:20 so I’m putting two beers in the freezer to rehydrate that skin while I write this.   And I’m going to shop for a cover up that isn’t 3 sizes too big. And I’m putting up the hottest pic possible from the next MNO to counter attack the hideous in this one.  Moving along now to the real reason  I’m writing this when I should really be doing the dishes.

The Southwestern Company  girl came to my home today.   We had just gotten back from the pool and The Husband was making us our very late lunch and I was tinkering with the lawn and garden.   Like most people I am not exactly a fan of door to door sales people. I never let them get past the first breath if possible.  I was all set to knee jerk react in that exact way when she called out to me.  I was annoyed she had seen me in the garage, but I had seen the blue bag and recognized it as THE BLUE BAG that all sales people for this company carry.   And I remember I used to have that job , and I decided that I’d embrace that I’ve been through this mentality and instead of be rude I’d open up myself and share.  I invited her in and she sat at the table doing her presentation for the whole family.  As she talked more and more from that summer came rushing back and I just really enjoyed the time she spent with us.  I asked her if I could take our picture so I could put it in my story.

For those of you who don’t know The Southwestern Company it’s the one that  sends kids  from all over the world to hard core cold call sales motivational school and then sends you to somewhere very far from home to sell books door to door.   You are assigned a team and your team has a manager. You as a young adult with the support of the company and your team are to procure a cheap as possible place to live, learn to take a 2 min cold shower to wake up every morning at 6am because you have to meet your team for breakfast at like 7.  Sell books door to door all day while trying to stay hydrated, and fed, and cool enough and sane enough to last until you get picked up by whoever has the car in your team at like 4:30 or later  and go back to your crash place only to get up and do it again another day.  You are expected to make so many presentations in an hour and so many in a day.  You can collect the money in payments throughout the summer and you have to deliver your own books at the end.   Whatever you end up with in profits is money collected minus expenses.  It is  HARD CORE character building.  There is likely a documented list of very rich and powerful leaders in our country who have held this job successfully.  Marianne is holding this job successfully.   This is her 2nd summer and she is a Manager.  I told Marianne  I lasted a few weeks.  I’m not even sure it was that long.  I have an urge to also say I lasted about 2.5 days in the actual field.  But I just plain don’t remember those details.

I did it the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year in college.   I was very much not into going home and having to live there  that summer.  A friend suggested I try this and I somehow got hooked up with three dudes from my university who were all upper classmen and none of whom I actually knew. Also I was not returning to this university the next fall, I was transferring to a different college.  My Mom drives me and my stuff to the University town so I can meet up with these dues and go to Nashville, TN  for training.  This drive and the one the four of us take to drop me off in Upstate New York is a story to come about a boy I had forgotten until just now.  I make it through the training period and I am scared but also motivated.  We make it to drop me off in Upstate New York, Johnstown and Gloverville area maybe, and they turn around and head somewhere else far away.  It was amazingly awesome hilly country  but I was not assigned to the rural portion. I had the small town. My team mate and I , who I’d never met until I arrived there, share a bedroom upstairs in a house that an older couple lives.  She reminds me of My Godmother who will be dead within a few months but I don’t know that yet.  I am having a not getting along with my Dad family dynamic going on at this time and my Godmother is the main source of positive unconditional love in my life.  I am far away from home, young and alone.   This is the 90’s lovies there is no texting and skyping.

It is roughly a 2+ mile walk from their house into “town”.  She has a car and drives us the first morning to the local diner for our breakfast and team meeting. Then drives off to her area and leaves me in town to work my territory.  I bravely head up to my first house and ring the doorbell.  The maybe in her 30’s lady answers the door, I start my opening and she says “No thanks”.    I start to BAWL on her front porch. Now this is awkward but I don’t really care, and I ask her if I can use the bathroom. On the way out I felt pretty bad but I managed to pull myself together and make it through the day.  My manager gives me a pep talk and I make it another day or so.   There are two things I learned that summer from my team’s manager.

  1. It is physically impossible to cry if you put your chin up. This has to be where the phrase chin up comes from. You cannot cry with your chin in the air like that. I make use of this often that summer.
  2. If you want to cool off put the inside of  your wrists in cold water or ice. Something about a pressure or nerve point there.

I know I spend the afternoon of either day 2 and/or 3 sitting in the local tavern at the bar ordering diet cokes and shooting the shit with the old guys until it’s time to catch my ride.   Watching,  I kid you  not, horse racing at the nearby track. Very soon I decide I am going home to my city. Though I briefly consider getting a job in the town and still living with these strangers and hanging out all summer until I have to go to school. THAT is how bad I did not want to go my own personal home.  I take the greyhound bus for a 23 hour ride with transfers in scary places at night and my wonderful and fabulous friends meet me at the bus station with signs welcoming me home.  We are driving away from the bus station on the way to go party and I am telling them all about it.  I had my first big adventure under my belt and I had a boy from the ride out to write to all summer, but just as friends.

She asked me if I’d ever do it again.   “No way, I’d never do it again. But I definitely don’t  regret doing it ” .  I’m sure she didn’t plan on having  an adventure with a rambling awful looking crazy old lady  in my kitchen today.    I hope the water and snacks made up for it Marianne from Ireland. Thanks so much for being a good sport and best of luck to you in your adventures. You will be well prepared for wherever life takes you.


7 Comments on “Selling Southwestern Company Books one summer”

  1. […] ass  bear I’ve slept with since my sophomore year of college.  I got him the summer I sold books  for Southwestern, but not until after I got home.  Mr. Bear has had many adventures and is fairly […]

  2. […] Selling Southwestern Company Books one summer […]

  3. Natalie says:

    I remember picking you up!!!!! I believe that is the first time I met you!!!

    • Lola says:

      No way, I’d come to visit at school for J and J’s Freshmen year. Remember that’s the year I broke the couch…with help.

  4. John McCluskey says:

    Hi, this is Marianne’s cousin from Maine and I’m glad you were open enough to recognize Marianne’s fine sales prowess and kindness. What a gal. Keep up the great work Marianne. take care… cousin John

  5. Thanks so much for this post 😀 I’m Clare, Marianne’s sister from Ireland its so good to see her meeting wonderful people like yourself, this picture of her smiling with you has made my day, as I obviously worry about her out there so far away from home but the fact that she’s meeting such kind people like yourself makes it a lot easier xxxx

    • Lola says:

      You are so welcome. She is such a confident and well spoken girl. She has big things ahead of her I’m sure.


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