The place is called Health Plan One, or HPONE. It’s an insurance company in Phoenix. They called me out of the blue. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no insurance.
What they do is, comb through Indeed for anyone with sales experience and reach out. I was blissfully unaware that Medicare Annual Open Enrollment was coming up in October.
I was game, so I went over there one afternoon.
The hiring manager immediately sat me in front of a computer for an hour filling out paperwork and I hadn’t even said “I do.” Yet.
He said, “Can you start June 11?” He sent me for a drug test and we were on. The starting pay wasn’t shabby and it would only get better. I was promised.
Monday morning, June 11, comes and I find myself in a Fellini movie. It looked like they stopped at a homeless shelter for last call. Nothing surprises me anymore.
The woman who is running this “Fast Track” session is a retired prison guard out of Gainesville, Florida. She had on tight, peach colored stretch pants, with calves Richard “The Refrigerator” Perry would have admired.
My irises were getting a workout this morning.
She opened with, “Welcome to Hell” She wasn’t joking. She held up a book the size of a Sears Catalogue and told us we had to get this between our ears by the 21st, which was the Arizona State Insurance Exam. Huh?
We crammed all day, all night, all weekend. It was contract law with woulda’s, coulda’s, shoulda’s and abbreviations. There were linguistic loopholes, exceptions, omissions and gotchas. It was a fustercluck.
How bad did I need the money, you ask?
HR came in on Friday, the last day, and said good luck on the big test, “but if you don’t pass, then we will simply have to part ways.” Awww, so sweet.
Long story short, I passed on a Thursday and twitched all the way to Monday the 25th. Now, I have to say, I have been very fortunate to come up in some good company cultures, Dupont, BMS. etal.
This wasn’t it.
There was something seriously wrong with everyone in the goddam building. I used a bathroom two blocks away and I never went into the cafeteria during lunch.
But when that Monday the 25th came around, I would have shown up there if the building was on fire. I..really…needed…the money.
After a full morning of congratulations to the winnowed out survivors, it was revealed there was such a high fail rate on the test, they were surprised to see…most of us.
At that point, I let out a sigh of relief and started texting myself a long overdue grocery list. That long afternoon and all the next day, training was pure silliness. Just dumb. But I’m gettin’ me some groceries.
Plus, I had my broker’s license.
Wednesday afternoon, a stern looking woman came in a told us it was time to take AFIP, the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals exam. C’mon, willya?
It was days of reading that had to be accomplished by the next afternoon. She said “don’t bother trying to read all the material, you won’t make it. Just go to the tests at the end and try to work your way backwards.”
I look up at the trainer and whisper, “Is she serious?” He nodded in the affirmative. She said we would have three attempts, if we failed the third, there would be a, guess what? Yes, a parting of the ways. Awww. (Again)
For me, this was the equivalent of passing the bar. I studied around the clock and it wasn’t sinking in. This material was for veteran insurance brokers. I deleted my grocery text.
I needed a 90, I got an 86. I was done. Gone.
As I was leaving, I saw Lawrence, a 600lb, legally blind kid with dreads down to his way too low slung jeans. He was smiling, I think. He got a 92 and kept his job. I said congratulations and told him he was a smarter man than me.
He said, “Shhhitt, I ain’t smart man, it was that notepad document with all the answers on it that saved our asses. We all had it, didn’t you?”
I don’t need to explain what happened there, do I?
Parting is such…bullshit. I did get my broker’s license, though. 🙂