After reading some blog posts from my fellow bloggers about their experiences at work or on public transportation, I began to reminisce about my working days. For the last 3 years that I was working, I was in direct sales and called on people in their homes, by appointment, to sell them Medicare Supplement Plans.
Medicare does not allow sales people to make cold calls; that is, the customer has to have requested that someone call on them. This meant that people were expecting me, and no doors were slammed in my face. (Having sold life insurance door-to-door, I can tell you, that's a tough way to get appointments.)
I met some wonderful people in the process, and some I'll never forget. One house I visited had bird cages with live birds in them all along the kitchen counters. I'll call the home owners Mr. and Mrs. Jones. (not their real name...I actually can no longer remember their names--see last Friday's post regarding Obesity and Memory Loss.
When I commented on the birds, I was told the Smith's raised them for sale and show. After a little ice-breaking chit-chat, I began my sales presentation. It was a challenge, as every few minutes the large multi-colored parrot in the cage across the table from me would chirp...well, not exactly a chirp....more like a shout, "CRAW! CRAW!" or something like that. He was really LOUD.
In between outbursts from the parrot, Mr. Smith would jump up and pound on the kitchen window and yell, "Get the hell out of there!" at the blue jays that landed on the bird feeder outside the window. When I reacted with a start at the loud pounding, Mrs. Smith explained they put out seeds for the little birds, but the jays had a habit of eating the seeds and keeping the little ones away.
So, I proceeded to explain the benefits of a medicare supplement plan, in between the "CRAW! CRAW!' and the racing across the room, window pounding, and "I said get the hell out of there!" It was slow going, as I often had to repeat myself, my voice having been drowned out many times by Gilbert the parrot's "CRAWS!" and Mr. Smith's outbursts. To this day, I don't know how the window survived the pounding.
Then another problem arose....apparently I am allergic to bird "dander." With all those birds (there were a dozen cages or more in the kitchen) flapping their wings every time they were startled by Gilbert of Mr. Smith, I started to cough. Now coughing and talking don't mix well, no more than bird dander and oxygen mix well. Mrs. Smith was kind enough to bring me a glass of water, and with a lozenge I found in my purse, I was finally able to make the sale and complete the paperwork. When I wasn't coughing, I was wheezing at this point...the air was so thick with bird dust.
As I rose to don my jacket and thank them for their business, Mr. Smith jumped up and said "Before you leave, there's something I want to show you." He escorted me down the hall to the next room. The room was lined floor to ceiling with bird cages...all the way around the room, plus the center of the room was also piled with cages, with a just a narrow path in between them all to allow someone to walk through and presumably clean the cages and feed the birds. The air was filled with tweets and chirps and "CRAWS" from the menagerie, plus the stench of ammonia from the bird droppings was over-whelming. I thought I would faint!
I don't know how the Smiths were able to live in that house with the stench, the noise, and the dander. Not wanting to appear rude, I reminded them that Mr. Eva was waiting for me in the car and I really must leave. They thanked me for coming and I thanked them for sharing their birds with me....would have preferred a little less sharing, perhaps!
When I got to the car, even though it was freezing cold out, as Mr. Eva backed out of the drive way, I lowered the power window and stuck my head outside, inhaling the clean air in deep gasps. We laughed so hard we had to pull over for a bit when I explained to him why I was sucking in that fresh air! Sometimes it seemed like I'd do anything for a sale!