Jim was sitting at his desk on the showroom floor checking personal email. He started chuckling at a ridiculous email about men and women. When it came to men and women, the men seemed to be the butt of the jokes. Shelly had sent him the joke and knew if the tables were turned, she wouldn’t be laughing. He started to reply to her but then was tapped on his shoulder. He jumped. Technically, he wasn’t supposed to be on personal email or web pages at work. But Jim hated his job so to bring some sunshine into his days, he’d surf the Internet.
“Smith, go help those people.” A co-worker, pointed over at a young couple. Jim got up from his seat and sauntered over to them. He wore black dress pants, a blue long-sleeved button down shirt and shiny black shoes. His gold-rimmed designer glasses sat on his long nose. He looked the part. The couple was gazing into the windows of a car as Jim approached
“Hi, you wanna buy this car?” Jim joked and patted the most expensive hybrid on the showroom floor.
“Yes, actually, can we test drive it?” The girl asked. She wore a loose flowery top with ripped jeans and lugged a large pink bag that hung off her opposite shoulder. The guy looked up from the other side of the car. He had a long straggly beard and a T-shirt that read ‘No photos please’.
“Sure, do you want all the bells and whistles?” Jim smirked.
“Yeah man, let’s do it,” the guy bobbed his head up and down.
Jim nonchalantly turned around and then wanted to jump out of his shoes. He could see the dollars floating all around him already. Okay, so that was the one thrilling thing about his job . . . the commission! He grabbed the keys for the blue vehicle and they walked outside. They both took turns driving it and were humored by the way it would ‘shut off’ at stop signs. They played with the display on the dash and were in awe of the low gas consumption. These people get high off saving the environment, Jim thought. But it was the back-up camera that was the showstopper. The guy kept looking at the screen and repeating, “way cool”.
It was a done deal. They sat at Jim’s desk filling out paperwork as his manager sat by to do the up selling, which these folks totally went for. His manager glibly ticked off the great features of the packages. Protective coating over the layer of paint on the car? Yes. Nitrogen-filled tires? Yes. Additional warranty? Yes, please. Jim could hardly believe his luck. His manager shook their hands and left to ‘help’ another customer. Everything had gone seamless.
After the car was ready, Jim stood outside with the couple to see them off with their new purchase. They radiantly beamed as they walked around the vehicle. Then the girl squealed with delight.
“Look at the license plate! See here Jim, read it!” She stood behind the car and pointed.
“Okay,” Jim had been through this a few times with customers who thought themselves clever. He stepped to the rear of the car, barely glanced at the plate and said, “Ahhh, yes, very clever!”
“What does it say?” she prodded him. But he stood patiently as usual waiting for her to tell him. She waited for him. After a few moments, Jim started to sweat and could feel his face flush. What should I do? Panic rose as his heartbeat jumped out of his chest. If he messed up this deal he would just kill himself! Or his manager would.
“Nice car folks.” A technician walked up to the car.
“Brad, look at the license plate, read it,” Jim anxiously requested.
“IMAQT. Hah! No lyin’.” Brad chuckled and walked away. Saved once again. Jim dropped his tense shoulders and smiled. The girl raised her eyebrow and gave him a quizzical look.
“Thanks, enjoy,” Jim shook the their hands. Once they were on their way, Jim took a deep breath and released it. That was a close one.
“Now you like your job? I didn’t think it was you.” Jim was on the phone with his mom. He propped his feet up onto the wooden coffee table as he rested back into the stiff couch. His living room looked like it was plucked from a picture in a store catalogue. Jim’s personality was missing.
“It’s great, this latest deal . . . I mean it was easy,” Jim smiled.
“Yeah, but . . . I don’t know. I don’t feel it’s right. Well, I hate to say that because it’s your life.” She paused and then whispered, “That license plate is just weird . . .probably psychological . . . ”
“What would I do if I quit my job? I don’t want to work at another car dealer doing the same thing. I’m not qualified to do anything else . . . what do I do?” Jim felt trapped.
“Honey, you sound like an old man. You’re twenty-six . . . now’s the time to explore. Maybe it’s in sales but selling something different?”
“I don’t think it’s sales . . . I don’t like dealing with the public. I feel fake,” Jim responded as he stared at the television. It was the nightly news. “Mom, I really can’t . . .”
“Can you hold on a sec? I have another call coming in. One sec,” his mom clicked over to the other line. Jim hung up. He stared blankly at the news. In his attempt to admit to his mom the stress he carried from his mounting debt, she cut him off. Maybe that was a good thing. If only something new would come his way. He was sick of his life.
“I’m sorry Jim, but we have to cut . . . business is slow so someone has to go. People aren’t buying cars right now,” Jim’s manager said as he leaned back into his chair in front of his desk. He positioned his brown tie down the middle of his button down shirt. The buttons struggled to keep his shirt together because of his expanding middle.
Jim sat across from him, staring with an open mouth. No words would come out. The gray desk, fabric of the gray chairs and the gray certificate of achievement that hung on his grays walls enveloped Jim. His head started to spin.
“But I just sold that car . . . to that couple,” Jim felt light headed. “I bought the right clothes, car . . .where I live . . .”
“Look Jim, that deal was a set up to see how you would do. It was given to you . . .and you failed.”
“Why did they buy it . . . do I not get the money?” Jim gulped.
“The girl was my friend’s daughter and I wanted to get feedback from them . . .”
“The money?” Jim looked desperate.
“Yes, you get the money . . . but I have to tell you that they said that you were sarcastic to them. That you didn’t speak to them until they asked you questions and when you answered you were smarmy. I mean, why would you tell her that she had a great ass?”
“She said she was working out . . . I was just trying to compliment her. I learned sales from you!” Jim dropped his face into his hands and mumbled, “I was trying to be a good salesman.”
“Well, then don’t act like you want to sleep with the customer. Jeez, she said it was like being picked up at closing time in a bar.”
“Gawd,” Jim moaned. I’m worthless.
“Jim, sales might not run in your blood. I’m sure there’s something else you’re much better at. I’m sorry . . . but I’m doing you a favor. You come in here everyday with your nose in that computer. Maybe you should do something with computers?”
“Fine,” Jim pushed himself up from the chair and walked out of his office.
To be continued . . .