Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 43


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee; I worked today; It’s Saturday; I still had to work; the coffee was watered down like the morning; if I was being pretentious about it, I’d say it had notes of #2 pencils and conference rooms.

I get a letter in the mail that says the dealership wants to buy my car. Only they’re not talking about my new car, just the old one I lost to alternator problems last year.

One week later, I get a phone call. It’s a Burlington number. I don’t know it so I don’t answer. After work, I see a new voicemail from this number. Intrigued, I press play. It’s the dealership – a young woman who’s having trouble sticking to script – telling me that they’d really love to buy my car.

I’ve been in sales for four years now. Or is it five? I know a thing or two about how to make a sales call. And I know a thing or two about how hard it is. I considered calling the woman back, if only to give her closure. When her boss says “you’re not selling enough,” she can say “I tried.” And she’ll pull the call log and tap the recording and they’ll hear me tell her how the car died, how it was shot in the alternator. ‘Would I like to trade in my 2018?’ No ma’am. Suddenly, I’m the one to blame. The fault’s all mine and this dealership lady gets to go home a little happier to her kids.

Of course, I didn’t call her.

I like one thing about sales and nothing else: it’s the purest sort of work outside of making something new. Why? Because it’s just people being people. You set yourself up, put yourself out, and crash into your customers. You bend and twist to try and fit the little holes they’re looking for. You can’t do sales without knowing how to listen, and you can’t know how to listen if you’re not open to really hear what a person has to say. Half the time (maybe over fifty), they’ll tell you something awful. They’ll cut you up and serve you on a tray – dinnertime dialogues, ‘this fucking guy that called me…’ But hell, all least you let them show you something.

Novel Count: 36,338

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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The thing about rabbits, sir, is that everybody has one, I’d like to see you step up to the goat-class where I feel you belong. Frankly you look more like a goat man to me.

Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Coffee Log, Day 170


Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

Her mom caught her talking Hebrew and asked where she’d learned it – “I don’t know!” Her mom didn’t either. So the woman spent most of her childhood looking for her Jewish roots but never found them. Now she has ‘peace’ in Hebrew tattooed on her wrist.

The drive through – a bank deposit, mom and daughter. The daughter’s putting in dollars and checks. Her mom tries to give her a few to make the total round even. The kid refuses. Mom laughs about it with me, a little amused, a little apologetic because I had to count it. I say: “I get it, that pride, huh?” The kid beamed like cream soda popped by the gym lockers because you have to hide your sodas at school.

The lady at the taco joint has different colored hair every time I see her. Today, it was aquamarine. Sometimes I see her walking the sidewalk, crossing Cary traffic, backpack on, punk sneakers, earbuds. When you order, she talks bright and smiles with the middle of her mouth. Today, she told me about a survey. Tomorrow, she’ll try to sell me drinks. Like all good salespeople, she’s a classy actress.

A guy tries to get to know me but gets my name wrong. I tell him right, tell him it happens all the time, but now there’s a bunch of stuff crowding the six feet between us, pink insulation. We work a little more and he tries again: “Are you new here?” I say no because I’m not new. I wish he’d talked about the weather. It was a hot day, sunny, spoiled sour cream. We could have compared projections for weekend rain. Instead, the guy tried to get to know me, but I’m a salesman, I’m a writer, I’m a passing cloud; I get paid to put the heavy things away in cupboards. Suits me fine.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I’m a hustler, baby; I sell water to a well!” – Jay Z