I’m writing a book. It’s a compilation of my adventures on the road as a technically and socially ill-equipped sales rep for Dupont and Bristol-Myers Squibb. If it wasn’t for my ignorance and arrogance, I would never have taken the position, which was offered when the Cardiolite flood gates opened, or I would have probably retired off the distribution dock. There, I learned the fine art of deceptive, misleading and predatory customer manipulation. I mean that in a good way.
If I had to wake up in Moon Valley, Arizona in a filthy, almost capsized house trailer with a female tech almost twice my size and a boat anchor tattooed on her forearm, I called that “closing the sale” while of course, increasing throughput.
But I digress, we’ll come back to that when my morning dose of Zoloft kicks in. The title of this post is “What’s my line”?, because I get lots of mail wanting to know why I would want to commit journalistic suicide and post it for the world to see. “Don’t you have existing clients who read this shit”? Yes. “Don’t you have any second thoughts about scalding ex-co-workers who, though they may have screwed you in the past, might need your services?” Fuck ’em.
“Don’t you know it’s not smart to make fun of the emperor? You do corporate work don’t you?” Yup! “Then what the hell’s the matter with you?” Plenty! I just hit my “Me Wall” with a flamethrower, so there’s no going back.
I see this whole corporate/business ruse coming down in the not too distant future and I think it’s important to let my fellow grunts know they need to get used to the idea of ME.Inc. That means learning to go to the bathroom without permission, not living under the threat of the next downsize and reporting to some seat warmer who could give a shit about your problems. That’s my line. It will be yours.
Yes, that’s what these 200 plus posts have been about all along. My contempt for the establishment and all the fear and loathing it brings. When this book comes out, Sean Penn will want to interview me. It will be the cathartic pinnacle of my fine career as the “Phony from Phoenix” because I didn’t know what I was selling until my tenth year in the desert. I have no hesitation in disclosing that fact because I was not alone. Lots of company.
My product: Me!
Before they moved me out west, they subtly let me know I was “kinda inferior”. Someone thought Bob Sullivan was smoking a little too close to the gas can. I had better watch myself, because I was getting dumped in the fish tank with the best and the brightest. My thoughts after my first sales meeting were “I hope nobody flushes this thing”. Shit house is the only description I could conjure. Best and brightest? Maybe it was time to change a few bulbs.
What I saw amazed me. People with families would throw caution to the wind and let it all hang out. One female VP, we’ll call her Sue, who scares me even today, said of one guy who put on a hula skirt, “well, his career’s over”. Chilled my blood when I heard that. She could do that Captain Queeg thing with your testicles and you would have to break the suction to get out of your chair.
One guy, Walker, got canned (pun intended) for mooning a bunch of female reps. This guy was such a horn ball we weren’t allowed to have doughnuts with holes in them. Another guy, Matt Callahan, told me, “Bobby, if you want to survive, never have more than one drink with the same manager”. Luckily for me, I quit drinking years ago.
While Matt and I were in training in Wilmington, I stopped by his room on the way downstairs. When he opened the door I couldn’t believe my eyes. He looked like he had been on a three day drunk. There were slices of pizza stuck to the wall. The wall? Two guys from New York melted a chocolate bar and smeared it on the sheets. The hotel called the company and said we weren’t welcome back. And I’m fucked up?
Frank Bell told me in LA once “always wear socks” they’re watching you.” Huh? Another guy told me to expense massages as “maintenence” and cocktails as faxes. They used to double bunk us back in those days and being the new guy, I would get Komo or Walker, two guys who could suck the plaster off the ceiling while snoring. God help us if there were chandeliers. There were many other noises I won’t get into here. But there was a “whole lotta shakin goin’ on”.
One guy, Eric, who could close any bar in the U.S., used to choke on his own bile. One night, while he was out cold, I put some lotion on his chin and tucked a dollar in his hand and went downstairs before he got up. He never said anything to me but he kept glaring at me all week. He had been told I was crazy and that made him change his room. I finally had some privacy. Perfect.
My line? I have been incarcerated, drafted, been in war zones, biker bars, whore houses, opium dens, mafia hangouts and psych wards (visiting) but I have yet see anything rivaling the crew that the only thing separating them from the inmates was a tie and a company car. And I’m just talking medical imaging, who I still have fondness for. But when they put the pharmaceutical pukes side of Dupont in bed with us, plus a rent-a-sales force, I’m thinking they’re straining the limits of credulity. At a cocktail reception to meet them, we had shit up to our knees. There’s a lot of used car lots missing some warm bodies.
There’s more, much more and I expect death threats to start rolling in as soon as I hit the publish button.
Stay tuned, because as my mother used to say, “Don’t worry about nothin’ cause nothin’s gonna be OK”
If you have any questions or need personal advice, please feel free to view my work here.