Do You Like Art? – Part 1on March 11, 2013 at 6:00 am
While perusing the classifieds when I was in my late teens I came across an ad for a job with the title “NO DORKS!” I thought to myself, “I’m not an aquatic mammal penis!” and readily called to schedule an interview that would ultimately teach me a lot about interviews and jobs.
I went to the location not really knowing what to expect. I was young and inexperienced and the ad boasted an eventual salary of over six figures so I was nervous. I was in the same room with a large number of people who I instantly assumed were more qualified than myself. I filled in the required paperwork and sat patiently waiting my turn, watching other applicants come and go without really getting a read of their faces. Eventually I am called in so with resume and various other paperwork in hand, I enter the back room.
The person I am interviewing with is a man in his thirties, with long hair and a Hawaiian shirt who starts sweet talking me about advancement opportunities, growth, lots of high salary numbers, everything he knew someone in their late teens wanted to hear. As the regional manager he explained that this was somewhat of a sales position and that if I did well enough, eventually I would move up to manage my own group of salespeople. I left there with a second all-day interview scheduled for that Friday, still unsure of what to expect since I didn’t realize until later upon reflection that he never actually told me what the job was. He did, however, actually say “Catch you on the flipside” as I was leaving. I swear to God.
Friday rolls around and I make my way back to the office bright and early and meet my partner, whose name I forget so we will just call her Jill. The plan was that I would essentially be shadowing Jill all day as she sold replica art paintings. There was no real formalities exchanged, just a “nice to meet you” and we headed out to her car. But I was already getting the sense that I knew what was to come.
We got out to her smallish hatchback and it was packed to the brim with framed replica paintings; Starry Night, a lot of Dali or Escher, the kinds that you see hanging on the walls of businesses for the sole reason of making the wall look 8% more sophisticated. I tried to remain optimistic, thinking maybe she was making some kind of delivery as we were supposed to head downtown. But as she explained what the position entailed I got just a sense of what I was in for.
We were soliciting. Yay.
The point of the excursion, and how the company operated, was to take a section of the city and literally go door to door at businesses or office buildings and see if they would buy some of these paintings to hang on their walls. I was instantly not at all interested in this but also didn’t want to make this person stop her job for the day so mostly I did the heavy lifting while she used her “rock star parking pass” (which was a relative’s handicap parking pass that hangs from the rear view) and all day long I listened to her ask anyone she saw, “Do you like art?”
I weathered that day as best I could, even through our lunch where we couldn’t agree on a place to go because she was a vegetarian and she grilled me about what I’d “learned” so far. I only once ever asked someone that horrendous question about whether they like art and I don’t think she sold more than a painting or two, but we returned after a long (and holy crap boring) day to our starting point. The same aging surf bum that interviewed me asked me a series of questions, to which I responded in a robotic, auto-pilot sort of way, and told him everything he wanted to hear. When he offered me the job I told him that I would have to think about it and get back to him.
Needless to say, he never got a phone call from me. But the strangest thing about all of this was that it saved me from another experience that would have been almost the same thing 3 years later. Which you’ll read about in due time.