I never thought that I would call myself a “salesperson”. When I think of working for large companies, I think of cramped cubicles and restriction. This summer I became the employee I thought I had never wanted to be.
In August, my partner Angela and I took a temporary job as traveling salespeople for a large-scale poster company. It is a humungous operation, sending about fifty teams of two across the country on salary, as well as covering their food, rental cars, gas, and hotel expenses (to a degree). Teams return from their runs anywhere from 4-10 weeks after they depart from training.
When she suggested that we take the job, I felt instantly pressured and scared of the lack of comfort I would face, even though this kind of opportunity was exactly the kind of thrill I knew I longed for. I still remember asking her how I was supposed to just leave my job and my home life so suddnely. It wasn’t a terrible job but I found myself becoming comfortably depressed in my routine. I ate the healthy food every day, took home all of the leftovers I could, and worked with generally cool people for the most part. Still, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was cynical about the whole idea, and how abruptly our lives would be thrown into a new direction. I needed an outlet; a splash of cold water in the face.
Waking up outside of Ohio for the first time was a good feeling; it reminded me that I was physically removed from what was holding me back before. We trained in the Quality Inn in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. When we checked in, we found it amusing that the majority of the sales teams were punks and nomadic kids with a similar desire to travel the country on someone else’s dime. We were all there for an excuse to travel.
For seven weeks, our boss would slingshot us around the corners of the country. Each major university had an opening week, and sure enough there was one of us there to sell the kids posters. They would send us as far as necessary to make the most profit, sometimes driving across the entire country with just a few days to make the trip. We drove long hours and stayed in hotels each night. In a way, we still had a factor of stagnant surroundings, but knowing they were temporary, it forced us to be creative. We did our best to make the most of each new highway, roadside stop, meal, hotel room, and city. We had no home base, but this was what helped drive us to continue on, looking forward to fresh experiences. It was comforting to have a job that could offer surprises and we had the freedom to take whatever route we wanted as long as we made it there by the start of the next sale.