My roommate and I flew from bed.
I assumed the position.
“One. Two. Three. Four…”
My arms protested as I approached the last five push-ups. “Nine….teen…. Twen…teee.”
I rolled onto my back. “One. Two. Three…” My crunches warmed my body further, preparing them for the next step in my morning ritual.
I finished my sit-ups and dashed into the bathroom.
A fine layer of sweat coated my skin – exactly what I wanted. I turned the faucet to “cold” and jumped into the shower.
I squealed as the frigid spray hit my body. “Thirty demos! Thirty demos! Thirty demos! Yeah!” I repeated the phrase five times while I washed at breakneck speed: once for each appendage, and the final for my torso.
I toweled dry and tossed on my collared shirt and shorts, made a peanut butter sandwich, packed the rest of my lunch, grabbed my bag, and we were out the door.
My roommate drove us to Shoney’s and we piled our plates high with the buffet food.
I looked over my maps and charts. I read from Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman in the World.
Breakfast finished, we went into the parking lot. We did jumping jacks, cheered, and yelled, “It’s going to be an awesome day!”
She dropped me at a house within my territory. And left.
I walked under the carport, grabbing a bike with a baby seat tied on back. My heavy bag squeezed into the seat as I pedaled a few miles to my first appointment.
My long hair stuck to my neck, the air heavy and muggy. The sun already peeked above the trees as the dog days of a Tennessee summer beat down upon me.
I knocked on the wooden door before me. A woman opened it, thankfully fully dressed.
“Hi, my name is Kelly, and if you’ll give me just one quick moment, I’ll get out of your hair. I’m the college student who’s sitting down with all the education conscience families….” I continued with my spiel, smiling as though I had more than six hours of sleep and didn’t say these lines every day, all day for my entire summer.
I was lucky, I sold to her neighbor. We sat down on her porch as I pulled the sample book from my bag, giving her the appropriate tour for her children.
I went in for the closing. She grabbed her credit card.
I left the house elated. It wouldn’t be a zero sale day – the pressure was off.
I jogged to the next house and knocked.
The door slammed in my face.
My composure never wavered. “She was just having a bad day.”
I walked on to the next house.
Over and over. The goal each day to show the book to at least thirty people, to sit down with at least twelve. Odds were several would buy.
“Each failure to sell will increase your chances for success at your next attempt.” -Og Mandino
The 100 degree heat roasted me as I heard children splashing in backyard pools. Sweat dripped down every crevice. I imagined sagebrush tumbling down the street, as house after house, no one answered my knock. I dreamed of an ice cold glass of sweet tea a parent was certain to offer me if I continued knocking, finding the needle in the haystack of empty houses.
Gravy hour arrived, when the day shift parents arrived home. I had my lists, knowing when and where to find them. Showtime!
Exhausted, I parked my borrowed bike under the carport. I knocked on the door.
“Kelly, how was your day?” The lady of the house greeted me with a warm smile as her two children ran to hug me.
“It was an awesome day!” I said, faking it even it wasn’t true.
She fed me leftovers or a sandwich, mothering me though we’d only met weeks ago.
Her husband drove me the ten minutes “home”, where my roommate and I rented a room from a widow.
My eyes heavy, I drifted off.
I crawled in to the house, attacking thirty more minutes of work as I filled out paperwork and called in credit card orders.
I delayed sleep a bit longer, basking in a hot shower, scrubbing the grime from my body.
I collapsed into bed.
Tomorrow will be even better.
For this week’s RemembeRED prompt, we’re borrowing a prompt from Writing the Memoir by Judith Barrington.
In her chapter “The Truth: What, Why, and How,” she asks her readers to: “Tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in your life that you are proud of.” Your word limit is 700 words.
About this post: I worked for Southwestern Publishing Co. for two summers in college (one summer in Tennessee, the other in Alabama). The job was straight commission. You had a week of sales school in Nashville, typically 12 weeks of selling, and one week for delivery. You worked Monday through Saturday, with Sunday “off” for sales meetings with all the other students in your organization.
The key to surviving was routine (described above) and “brainwashing” yourself to view everything with a positive attitude. A day with no sales? You rid yourself of all the “no’s” at once, so the next day would be amazing. You had to keep going, keep knocking, even when all you wanted to do was quit and go home, or to the nearest pool.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I not only survived, but my perseverance (working an average of 84 hours in those six days) allowed me to put myself through college without student loans.