When I went into sales for Dupont Radiopharmaceuticals, I came right off the dock. I had only a G.E.D, didn’t know what a business plan was or where to buy one, never filled out an expense report or attended a sales, marketing or district meeting. Never popped a laptop, bought an airline ticket or called a speaker’s bureau.
It was like showing up to war with a squirt gun. It was Liar’s Poker with very high stakes. I was traveling with PhD’s, chemists, scientists, cardiologists, radiologists and was thankfully, never discovered.
I asked someone what I should do if a cardiologist asked me a technical question. I got, “They don’t ask questions, they already know everything.”
It was a year before I knew what end of the body the product went in.
The conversations on the road were so revealing I wanted to tape them. If I wanted some poop from an in-house puke I was traveling with, I simply told them the radio was busted. The silence would always break them. If it was the 200 mile Tucson trip they usually broke about Casa Grande.
Then, every grudge, insecurity, infidelity, sexual fantasy and misappropriation of expenses would come rolling out. They would start speaking in tongues.
One drunken reimbursement specialist yelled “PARTY” at the Sky Harbor baggage claim before she gripped me by the Johnson.
I loved that fuckin’ Tucson trip.
Then, when I took a move to go in-house as a video producer, a role I totally made up out of whole cloth, things really got interesting. Some of the inter-office conversations were so stupid I thought it might be a sting operation.
Nobody past the sixth grade talks like this, I thought.
I started to think getting an MBA could stunt your emotional growth. It was like being with twelve year olds who shaved.
But I also learned a lot.
I learned how to place my computer screen so my USA Today wouldn’t be discovered. I learned how to get the last cup of coffee without replacing the water bottle. I learned that everyone in the home office lived lives of quiet desperation.
More importantly, I learned that street sense is more valuable than book sense and that I don’t belong in those kinds of places…..anyway.