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My boss says if I don’t sell more satellite TV subscriptions he’s going to have to let me go. He says it confidently, from behind his desk.

I say, where, and he leans forward, pardon? I repeat, where? Where will you have to let me go? I wouldn’t mind Thailand if I get a choice.

He sacks me on the spot.

The next day I go in to work anyway. I figure he didn’t really mean it. I do my spiel – hi, my name’s Will, I’m calling from TV Solutions. I was wondering whether you’d be interested in upgrading to satellite – fifty odd times before my boss, or ex-boss, comes over to my desk. He looks at Sarah to my left and Tommy to my right. They both click call, and start reading their prompt. The boss says, didn’t I sack you yesterday?

I take my headset off, I thought you were joking.

– Since when are the words, get out, you’re fired, a joke?

– So you want me to go then? I figured you wouldn’t’ve found a replacement yet.

The boss says, come with me, and I stand and follow him out to the corridor. He goes on, how many sales have you made this morning?

– None.

– Okay. You’ve got till the end of the week. If you don’t sell any by then I’m going to have to let you go.

He waits for me to say it. I don’t. He waits some more, then says: well?

I say, have to? You’ll have to let me go?

– Yes, what’s your point?

– Nothing, and I go back to my desk.

By the end of the week, I’ve made no sales, said hi my name is something like six thousand times, and had a conversation with a septuagenarian who’s convinced someone is trying to poison her cat. When I log off my computer, my boss appears behind me. He says, well?

I think about lying, but then figure he’ll know anyway. They’ve had time to advertise too. They’ll have someone new for Monday. In the end I go for hi.

The boss leans over my desk, how many have you sold?

I shake my head. He looks at the day shift filing out, the evening shift filing in, and says: you’ve got two more days. If you don’t sell any by the end of play Tuesday, I’ll have to let you go.

I say, are you sure?

He stands up, definitely.

– ‘Cause that’s the third time you’ve said that. And the third deadline. Will I just get a new one on Tuesday?

He ignores me, Tuesday. You’ve got till Tuesday.

At the end of my shift on Tuesday I’m still without a sale. My boss corners me as I leave.

– Well, it’s Tuesday.

– Yes it is.

– And?

– And what?

– How many sales have you made?

I say, I think you know the answer. Will I see you tomorrow anyway?

He ushers me into a broom cupboard, you’ve got three more days. If you make no sales by Friday, you’re gone, right?

I say, sure, trying to sound worried or scared or something when in fact I’m elated.

On Friday he comes to see me again. I don’t even let him speak.

– See you Monday, I say, and, with a smile, I walk out the door.

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9 thoughts on “Sales

  1. I just love your writing style; the voice! I think I could pick it out from a pile of other writers. I felt so sorry for the poor narrator that I’d buy a satellite subscription even though I don’t have a TV.

  2. Having worked in a call center (as an I.T. consultant, not thank God as a caller or call-ee) I really liked this. Re ‘have to’ … a locution to avoid responsibility for a decision. Re ‘deadline’ … badly misused simply to mean ‘target date.’ A real deadline, if passed, means that the effort no longer has any point, like failing to buy a PowerBall ticket before 11:00 p.m.

  3. Moles, wasps, and employees… Lawns, marmalade jars, and a boss…

    Your last three poems are in wonderful sequence. I really like them.

      • Yes. In that the nature of the mole, wasp, and employee tenaciously go after the very object or space that gets in the way of the homeowner, father, and boss figures happiness. And how the homeowner, father and boss keep trying to fight nature anyway.

        I like how that patterns or echoes in each piece and yet they have different reasons for being too.

      • “Wrong-headed people are always right”

        That reminds me of the Ouroboros. The snake eating it’s own tail is supposed to represent totality… or rebirth though… I think, so maybe I’m just over reaching symbolically even by mentioning it.

        But I like how you bookended the opposites. It’s like how an egg is a completely nutritious meal in an of itself… it doesn’t matter if the wrong headed people ever win the fight against the brick wall. If they are always right, they are “complete” regardless of the wall. If you hate my example or it feels like a “projection” feel free to push Humpty Dumpty the egg head off the brick wall… cracks in my theory… I won’t be shattered. I don’t need to be right. 🙂

        Groan!

        I like these three stories even better now. Thank you for your added comments.

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