April 27, 2005

Chaos descends

Thursday, 21 April 2005

An email came out of the blue from Mum & Dad, telling me that Dadís got bowel cancer. Too early to say how bad it is, heíll have to go for a colonoscopy on Tuesday. I phoned him and heís very calm about the whole thing, though it looks like heís finally been prompted to retire from work. Heíll be in for chemotherapy which could make him sick for a few months. He said there was no need for me to rush back to NZ just yet Ė but I did take it as an excuse to have the next couple of days off work. Seems like a Gordian Knot solution to the work problems this week. I now have four and a half days free, which is time to fish around for another job, find a musical instrument and get my head sorted out. Iím on the train back to Melbourne as I write this.

25 April 2005

OK so Iíve had my long weekend off. I donít feel entirely rested because Iím extremely nervous about work this week. I could get my ass kicked trying to sell door to door in Melbourne. Iíve been in Australia just over a month and am back to where I was at the beginning, facing the prospect of having to go home early if my savings run out.

I have improved my overall situation outside of work though Ė I went and bought myself a banjo, so I donít have the frustration of not being able to play music. I spent a large chunk of the weekend teaching myself to play my new toy. I like the feel of it, and in a way itís easier to get motivated to practice than guitar. Next I have to figure out a way of playing live and taking it to an audience.

The banjo is proving very satisfying so far, though with the open chord tuning (ie if you strum all the strings without fretting any notes you get a G chord, whereas on guitar you get some kind of weird Em7+11) it is a little too tempting to get into a modal groove and stay there forever, and it probably takes a bit more effort to play something that's not in G. I should be able to figure out how to transfer any of my own songs to banjo, so it'll be good for playing live. It doesn't necessarily sound bluegrass - Mike had a go and made it sound Chinese, and there's an American banjoist Eugene Chadbourne (one of John Zorn's buddies) who likes to play Bach on it as it sounds like a harpsichord. Unlike a harpsichord though it can play loud or quiet, so there's a full dynamic range - it doesn't have as many low notes as a guitar though, so might sound best with some kind of bass accompaniment. Maybe for a solo act I could make backing tracks for myself on the computer and play banjo with it - could be great for hypnotic one-chord stuff. But right now my fingers are starting to get sore - a month without playing has left them soft.

As for my other music playlist, I've been getting into Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. Some of his stuff's a bit bland but this is a really interesting album, made when he was 23 (an important age for making bold original statements). The instrumentation is acoustic guitar plus woodwinds and strings - meandering arrangements, oblique lyrics, and his vocal style is pretty full on, so right up my alley.

On Saturday I went with Mike and Cynthia to the Dandenong Ranges for a bushwalk. This involved getting a train from Brunswick to the main terminus at Flinders Street, from there one stop to Richmond, changing train and going to Burnley, getting on a bus from Burnley to Box Hill, then another train from Box Hill to Ferntree Gully. This took 1Ĺ to 2 hours and we had to repeat the process getting back. The walk was good, though having been walking on flat ground the whole time here I found the hills surprisingly hard on my calves. Australian eucalypt forest looks, sounds and smells quite different from NZ podocarp or beech. Other things like street crossing signals, driving on the left and speaking English are the same, but the trees & birds are something else.

Today I got up early for the ANZAC service at the Shrine of Remembrance, but of course not quite early enough and just missed the train, so that the ceremony was ending as I got there. I can report that there were thousands of people gathered, and thereís been a lot of media hype about it for the past week or two. It does seem to be emphasised more than in NZ Ė maybe itís just a more militaristic country, with troops in Iraq and the police carry guns. None of my family were soldiers; Iím not sure how to feel about the whole ceremony other than my usual paranoid sense of alienation/exclusion from the great mass of humanity there. Baked beans with sausages and egg were being served for breakfast Ė not my favourite food, Iím in love with the Turkish and Lebanese food places near my flat in Brunswick. Things like olives and feta cheese are actually affordable here!

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Time to get up for work. Really all I have to do is speak to people with authority about green electricity (and donít give them room to manoeuvre and say no). I might even be able to use my nationality as an advantage Ė play the clean green image card. About a third of people I spoke to over the last couple of weeks spotted my accent even when I couldnít hear it. If I have to read out a number seex on the bill that gives it away. Anyway, see how it goes. Isnít courage being afraid and doing it anyway? Thereís a message to take from the ANZACs.

Today itís also my Dadís appointment to get a colonoscopy to find out how bad the cancer is. Best wishes Dad, Iím thinking of youÖ


Two sales today, or $46 Ė not enough to live off, let alone save. Theyíve moved us from visiting existing gas customers to cold-calling new doors. Personally I didnít find it any harder than last week, but most peopleís numbers have dropped and mine were lame enough already. I like the work itself but I simply canít afford to keep on with it. Iíve also been getting a bit of athleteís foot from walking around in my tramping boots all day every day. As it is, no major regrets though Ė itís been an interesting set of experiences, seeing parts of Australia that are off the tourist routes, and even generated some material for writing. Thereís actually a good comedic film script in there if I can apply myself to it.

Dad had his colonoscopy but we wonít know the results for another week or so.

As for me Ė back to square one. Jobhunting. All fingers fervently crossed...

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April 21, 2005

travelling salesman journal

This has since been superceded by some bad news back home which I'll write about later. Looks like I should head back to Melbourne today. In the meantime I finally got that bit of metal out of my disc drive - here's the last week or so's worth of postings.

14 April 2005

I enjoyed my Ďweekendí (Sunday). Had Ďone of those daysí on Wednesday though Ė the job just felt like an uphill battle.

I spent Sunday wandering around Brunswick in search of a shop that would sell me a small-size carton of milk Ė my flatmateís fridge is full of milk that the dates say expired a month or two ago, so I wanted some fresh stuff. I eventually found some at the Mediterranean food warehouse. Brunswickís a good food neighbourhood, though Iím disappointed that none of the fruit & vege shops seem to have feijoas. Then I went to look in the musical instrument shops Ė which were closed on Sundays. Iíve been looking at banjos through the window with my nose up against the glass. Melbourne looked autumnal Ė a sudden shower, and dead leaves blowing around the streets.

After that I went up to Thornbury and met an expat NZer Elise Bishop, whoís from Palmerston North originally and plays some kind of noise/rock stuff. Her name had been given to me as a contact to look up. So we had a very satisfying jam, with bass guitar, theremin and a drumkit minus sticks and cymbals. Slightly unconventional lineup Ė Iíd never played theremin before, had great fun, itís actually very expressive Ė but sounded good, and was especially good to break the musical drought. Since then Iíve been playing with Fruity Loops in headphones on my laptop and making up techno backing tracks for myself.

Hopefully putting on a gig around late May or early June should be feasible Ė but as for work, it takes up so much time thereís not much left for anything else. Weíre out to make sales in Sale (3hrs Southeast of Melbourne) and staying in a motel. Yesterday was a bit unpleasant Ė slightly too hot, unresponsive customers, wearing my only Origin t-shirt for the third day in a row and feeling seedy (itís in the wash now), delays with the phone verification system, had to wait a long time to get picked up at the end so didnít get back to the motel til after 9pm, whereupon we all got called into Leighís room at 9.50pm for a Ďteam meetingí. Leighís the team manager of this group, a 22 year-old Aussie guy making $3000+ a week Ė good at his job but on a completely different planet from me. At one point he asked where I grew up, I told him New Plymouth, he said heíd been there, I asked if he was visiting friends, he said no he was buying houses. Nothing personal against him, but to me thatís foreign investment Ė driving prices up so NZers canít afford to own our own country. The one thing for sure is that heís not doing it for the sake of doing us a favour.

As for the mega sums of money I was (OK OK) lured into the job by the promise of, they havenít materialised. Iím not completely useless at it, but not spectacular either. I can make a sale an hour if I stay focussed, so Iím probably earning $500-$600 a week. If I could make that on a wage in a job that would give me a proper weekend then Iíd be happy enough. I am actually quite interested in money at this point Ė I want (was going to say need but thatís a bit pretentious) $2000 to make a CD and get the record label up & running, and $4000 so I can get to the northern hemisphere next year. In theory a month or two more on this job and Iíd have it Ė if I make huge sales. As for getting a fast car, an iPod, some flash clothes and a few investment properties Ė theyíre not exactly top of my list.

I have been fairly productive with my spare time at the motel (while still finding time for beer & cards with the Oirish boys the other night Ė I acquitted myself competently at Last Card). Last week I did some editing work on my history of The Space Ė supposedly getting published this year, more than a year after I first wrote it. Iím also designing the layout for the Ďbest ofí compilation artwork Ė itís turning into an eight-page colour foldout thing, plus a black & white lyrics & credits booklet. Itíll be a deluxe package Ė if I can ever afford to get it made. And then I will have just made a lot of work for myself! How the hell am I going to sell 500 copies of a CD? Thatíll be a challenge to last me the next couple of years.

Iím also planning to upgrade my website, get my own domain name etc. Some of you might have noticed that http://fiffdimension.tripod.com hasnít been updated since December Ė it developed some kind of bug which prevents me from publishing new material to it. So maybe I should just start over again with a fresh site. Since I no longer consider myself to be based in New Zealand, and hope to visit several countries (India and Spain are high on the list) over the next five or so years, having an internet presence is probably the way to go. And if it takes me a few years of travelling around the world to offload my CDs, then so much the better.

In the meantime itís Thursday, time to go to work. Thereís a new challenge to come to terms with today Ė working in the rainÖ


Well I didnít get that wet, mainly because I spent the first hour or two over at the internet cafť sending off CVs to recruitment agencies. At about quarter to four there was a text message from Leigh saying that if it was still raining at 5pm he would pick everyone up and we could go ten-pin bowling. Then an hour later was another message saying that since the rain had stopped we would have to keep going. Leigh was in Maffra, 15km away Ė in Sale it was pissing down. I texted him this information, but it didnít help. I got three sales after that though, so from one angle itís just as well I had to stay. The mind-games are a drag though.


We finished in Sale and moved over to another motel in Morwell, where a couple of the other sales teams are staying. There are a few NZers here. We went out for some drinks & dancing with some of the Oirish lads. I ended up dancing with a potted plastic tree, and also did what I could remember of the New Plymouth Boysí High School haka in response to some Oirish faux-Riverdance moves. Not a bad night.

Today I was feeling quite positive about the job and looking forward to getting out there Ė but in the end I made a mediocre four sales. Looks like Iím not on target for 31 sales this week (though a strong comeback on Saturday could still save the day), so Iím looking at $400-$500 pay Ė which I still have to pay tax out of. Not great for a 60+hr week. If Iím going to be earning that kind of money Iíd be better off getting it on a wage from a 40hr week that would let me keep a life on the side. Ideally I should get a job that Iíd actually be good at.

Iíve got further than a lot of people and avoided quitting in the first couple of days. It is a high-turnover occupation Ė probably owing in part to their dodgy recruitment practices. On the other hand they are offering an equal opportunity to all comers, which some people thrive on. It is a bit frustrating seeing 18-19 olds with no qualifications raking in more money than Iíve ever made though. At this point Iím thinking Iíll give it one more week, just to prove to myself and everyone that Iíve given it an honest effort, and if the numbers donít improve then call it a day. One big problem is that Iíve watched how Leigh deals with customers, and itís not that I couldnít do it the way he does Ė itís that I donít want to. Iím happy to spend a bit of time chatting with people who take the offer rather than rushing on to the next sale always, and I donít like ordering people around. Iím still asking people whether theyíre interested, rather than taking it for granted Ė thatís holding me back.

Morwell is near a couple of big coal power stations Ė huge smokestacks occupying the horizon. And people complain that wind farms are ugly? I donít get it.

Tuesday, 19 April 2005

New town today Ė wasnít even sure of the name. Trafalgar maybe? Like being on tour. What if the singer shouts GOOD EVENING (INSERT NAME OF THE WRONG TOWN HERE) and the crowd start bottling him?

This time I took it upon myself to explore a patch of Australian bush on the hillside above the town. I met a landowner & got his permission, had a friendly dog tag along for a bit. Looked at trees, ants and birds. Two and a half hours after being dropped off I started work. Got a sale within ten minutes, on the second door, and then after that only a wasteland of AGL contracts (Originís kryptonite weakness) and people who just didnít give a shit. Even when I explained & they understood that theyíd be better off with the (modestly not bad) power deal. Iím not closing apparently.

Also met a Vietnam War vet yesterday and stayed a while talking to him, even went back round with a beer later on and he let me use his internet. He said heís on holiday 365 days a year, with an extra day off every four years. Potentially not a bad lifestyle Ė the flipside is the serious (debilitating and maybe life-threatening) lung and skin problems that come from Agent Orange exposure.

Iíve been having an interesting time, and so needless to say my numbers are slipping Ė far from the carrot they dangle of a grand to a grand & a half a week, today I worked five hours, not counting travel time, and earned twenty bucks. Nevermind, today felt like half a holiday, or maybe just claiming a bit of tino rangatiratanga over my weekend. Who knows if I should come back to this job next Tuesday? Power games always going on. Iím happy enough to be the black sheep of the team, just like Iím the most downwardly mobile member of my family. Just getting into my stride these days. I snubbed the bosses a little at the award ceremony by being away in an internet cafť as the awards were read out. I got one for Ďscoring a rootí at the nightclub aka the tree story which is even now taking on the shadowy beginnings of myth. Living in heroic daze. I turned up just as they were finishing, went up to the balcony to get the certificate and gave a wave.

As for Saturday night from thereon, there was Kylie who works selling newspaper subscriptions. She flirted with me for a while and then later seemed confused as to whether she should be joining Cynthia & I for a threesome. I got separated from the others and was left with Kylie as she went to get a taxi. The trams had finished and so I needed a place to stay and asked her if she had a couch I could sleep on Ė no, itís her motherís place. Psychoanalyse as you will. We got to two St Kilda nightclubs which were nothing special, downright lame in fact, and closed fairly early.

I ended up sleeping on the floor of Dariaís apartment Ė Daria being a 21 year old NZer for whom the jobís working really well, with insane amounts of money coming in. On waking up in the morning I found an acoustic guitar there and played a bit on the balcony. Someone yelled ďyouíre terribleĒ and then another woman came out and asked me to stop so I did. I thought Iíd sounded alright, a bit rusty but trying out some valid ideas.

After that I got the tram back to Brunswick with Cynthia. We got boarded by the ticket inspectors Ė nothing like the friendly old guys on the Wairarapa train. These were solidly-built no-bullshit types, like mob enforcers. The chances of getting caught without a ticket are slim so you can usually get away with it, but if they do catch you thereís a serious fine. We would have got busted Ė but the ticket validation system wasnít working so they had to leave. Close call.

Once again, I suspect the jobís falling apart because Iím working on an album. Iíve been spending my evenings working on the track-listing and the art layout for the compilation CD. Itís coming together well, I just have a couple of tracks yet to record to go on the end. And then of course thereís the scraping money together to make the CD. I should get the music mastered and make 500 copies of this one, colour packaging, lyrics booklet Ė the works. Itís a familiar feeling though, working on an album and the rest of my life getting fucked up by it. I am pleased to say the last album, Swansong (for the Huia) had no such consequences. Like its predecessor Parataxes, it was a collaborative effort that came together with remarkable ease. Those two seem to be exceptions to an otherwise general rule Ė I lost a girlfriend to Mantis Shaped and Worrying, my integrity to Loose Autumn Moans and my journalism diploma to Live 2004. Is Gleeful Unknown: Compilation 1997-2005 going to cost me a potentially good job? At least by this point the planning of the album is mostly done Ė next comes organisational work, making music contacts (Iíll need dozens more), getting back into playing, and of course scraping the money together. So by working on a job I am working on the album Ė try and think of it that wayÖ

Meanwhile, one of the 18 year-old sales prodigies I talked to in the evening had had a great day Ė sales in the high teens somewhere. He said he felt pretty good about his hairstyle that day. It was eerie how he had the same voice and mannerisms as Leigh.

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

On target for $200-$300 pay this week Ė ie less than my living expenses, and also less than what Iíd be earning as a dishwasher, labourer etc. The shower was cold this morning. Iím just hanging out for the long weekend Ė obviously the tension Iím carrying around reveals itself in my body language and speech, and the customers pick up on it. Three sales today was two better than yesterday though. Selling is one of those things like writing, seduction and athletics Ė easy to do well, and doing badly takes huge effort. If I can relax a bit Iíll be alright.

Next week is acquisition Ė cold calling doors in Melbourne. I will give it a go, purely because there the main selling point is the green electricity. I might just be able to pull that off if itís something I believe in. Out here the main selling point is getting people to stick with an Australian company Ė which is pretty much a crock of shit since Origin is 40% owned offshore anyway. Iím not going to lie to customers and tell them itís all Australian-owned, so that narrows down an option. And as for the best power prices Ė Power Direct beat us hands down as they keep costs low by not spending on advertising. Another problem out here is that a lot of people work for the coal power stations so theyíre not remotely interested in green power. Some get almost angry about the whole concept. Although I did get one guy who said no but pointed out that solar panels for individual homes were the way to go Ė bypass the electricity retailers (middle-men parasites) entirely. Big initial outlay, but pays for itself within a decade and then the home is self-sufficient.

Another thought about the job that stops me from throwing in the towel just yet Ė if I do 500 copies of a CD, my biggest task is not making the product but selling it. Iíve got to somehow make people want it. It is good music, Iím confident enough about that, but how to get it across? There are skills I need to learn, for my own lifeís purposes as well as purely for survival in a foreign country Ė if I run out of money then I have to go home early. My Australian bank account got set up finally and I have enough funds to last three or four weeks, so Iím through the immediate danger. Tomorrow I will have been on this side of the Tasman a month. Iím having a shitty week so far with work, but itís only a temporary blip on my life. Canít be any worse than shorthand classes, which I have to look forward to again in August.

As for the others, everyone else had a good day today (Scott made zero sales but that was because he basically took the day off). So I canít blame the territory. I asked one girl (her second day today, eleven sales) what she was going to do with all the money Ė turns out itís going into paying off debt. Actually, come to think of it, Iíve got a student loan to pay off tooÖ


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April 10, 2005

kangaroos, banjos and tyre-slashing

Iím sitting around waiting for the van to get fixed Ė someone, probably the Energy Australia guys down the other end of the motel, slashed a tyre and let the battery down. Leigh the team manager thinks itís not worth notifying the police. Just the way these people do business?

Itís an interesting ride, which at the moment I think Iíll probably go along with for a couple more weeks. Iím not raking in fifteen to twenty sales a day and making absurd amounts of money like some of these people, but I can see that the jobís doable. Iíve made 22 sales over six days, so at least Iíve passed ten and qualified for my first pay. On Thursday I made ten sales around a retirement village, then another three on Friday, so what I was saying worked for the old people. I had a great conversation with a razor-sharp 91-year-old who wasnít really interested in the power saving, but took it just as a favour to me so I could get my $20 commission. Sheíd been independent her whole life, run a business, travelled the world etc and now keeps mentally active with a lot of reading & writing and trips away. Her advice to me was ďdonít marry too youngĒ.

So Thursday evening I felt like I was doing OK, but then Friday when Iíd been all around the retirement village and back into the neighbourhood to talk to more middle-aged people, the pitch didnít work. I got 20 or so rejections. So Iíll have to learn to adjust it for different people. Selling is a specific style of communication, with the goal of taking control of the conversation and getting people to do what you want. I suppose the continuum would go journalism Ė PR Ė sales.

Being outdoors all day and talking to people (as opposed to menial labour or being stuck in an office) are definite good points. Hopefully itíll improve my communication skills and I can then apply that to journalism or public speaking or whatever. Only a small minority of people are actually unfriendly at the door Ė mostly even the people who say no are all very amicable. The weather this week was great, like having an extended summer for me. And if what the bosses (nearly all my age or younger) say is true, weíre in the middle of a boom time which wonít last much longer. It could be fun for me to be on the wave as it happens for once. On the other hand there are the 60hr weeks without any guarantee of earning a decent wage (there are no wages, just a $20 commission for each sale which then goes up to $25 if you sell 30+ in a week).

Iíve befriended an 18-year-old Aussie guy (with a broad accent and a Ned Kelly tattoo) Scott, whoís been working and flatting since he was 15, grew up in a rough neighbourhood, took hard drugs at school, knows how to fight etc. I love being out of Wellington right now Ė the whole liberal arts/music scene with the same faces all the time was getting suffocating for me. I do miss playing music Ė but Sundayís my one day off for the week so I think Iíll go shopping around for a guitar or a banjo. Iíve never played banjo but I like the way they sound, and if I can find a cheap one that feels good in my hands Iíll go with that Ė there are more than enough guitar players to go around. Banjo has a certain prickliness to it which would fit my aesthetic well Ė doesnít mean Iím going to automatically start playing bluegrass.

Anyway, I donít feel lonely as a stranger in a foreign country Ė it feels very liberating. And it turns out that Scott, who made 14 sales yesterday, filled in the paperwork wrong so they donít count! He can either write it all off and keep knocking new doors or he can go back to the people he saw and redo the forms Ė which would take most of the day anyway.

Taxi here Ė time to go to work for the day. I have enough detachment from the job to find the van tyre-slashing amusing, even though the delay cuts into my potential pay. And itís not like Iíd want a lifelong career in an industry where this kind of thing happensÖ


We hit a kangaroo on the way back from Sale Ė luckily its head was bashed in and it died instantly, no time to suffer. It put a big dent in the side of the van. Apparently kangaroos are a fairly common hazard on the roads here.

Itís after 11pm on Saturday and Iím on the Upfield train going from downtown Melbourne to my flat in Brunswick. Itís been a long week.

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April 03, 2005

treading water? sink or swim?

I'm 70% sure I walked into a trap with this job - looks like very long hours for minimal pay (if anything!) unless something changes and I suddenly get all charming & slippery on people. I've made four sales so far - need ten to get my first pay. There's a road trip next week to some small town, staying in a motel with the origin people. I think i will give it a go, maybe for a month or so. I'd regret it if i don't. Then maybe fruit-picking in May and back to the city for the winter? I'm sure i can earn some money with origin, even if it's harder work and less pay than a normal job - unless i suddenly become good at it and start raking in a grand a week like some people.

Mainly I'm along for the ride as it's quite entertaining, going way out of my comfort zone like this. The biggest danger is that I go broke before any money comes in. I feel pretty cheerful & am trying to keep an open mind about everything but I suppose I'm too good natured to have much defence against sharks.

It is good though to be outdoors & meeting the locals - most are pretty friendly. Most of the Origin people are fairly young, and i don't think they're necessarily any smarter than i am. If an 18-year-old straight out of school can do this job then why not me? I'm just trying to stay positive and have fun. My team manager Cynthia is a New Zealander from Nelson and I get lifts home with her in the evening which is a good time saving. I heard a couple of the oirish gairls saying how hoo mooch they looved er uccint.

I'm having a look around Brunswick today, the area that I've moved to. Lots of ethnic food places, a 'welcome house' for asylum seekers, an Islamic clothes store etc. This internet cafe is called 'Krshna Consultancy'. I've been enjoying hearing people speak in foreign languages, there are people in Melbourne from all over the world - I've got no idea what they're saying but there's always a musicality to it.

It would be good to get into a regular job with more reasonable hours (this one's 50-60 per week), so I can get back into music - it's kind of fallen by the wayside at the moment. I'm not ready to make a new album yet - though there's the album of the Ascension Band Fringe shows still to come. I haven't heard from the guys back in Wellington - have they gone all slack with their production manager away? For some reason i can imagine banjo/computer/hammond-organ/drums as a good combination for the next album (ie me with Damian & Nigel back in wellington Ė good jam we had just before I left, seemed like new possibilities opening up). & who needs conventionality?

My friend & collaborator Mike, who came here two months ahead of me, is off on quite a different tangent here in Melbourne, getting into (to me) very technical jazz stuff which is way over my head - i'm not sure if we have enough common ground to function as a duo. He knows my limitations and would probably be held back by just me - and there are lots of new people here for him to jam with. The Winter needed simon to make it a three-way thing, and he's not here. It could be good to do something with Mike & Fran Mountfort both on cello when she gets here in May (she's currently visiting China for a week with Elisa then touring Europe with mr sterile then moving here permanently). I'd like to re-record three or four songs off 'Scratched Surface' and 'the Marion Flow' with more of a live feel & using what i've gained since then to give them stronger performances - which could then go on the 'best of' compilation.

None of that's going to happen though if I can't keep my head above water. I'm spending the next full week out on this sales road trip, so will see how that goes...

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April 01, 2005

Dave, the April fool?

OK so Iím afraid. I had my first day out in the field selling electricity, or rather attempting to sell electricity since no one bought any off me. Worst case scenario is that if I donít improve quickly my savings will all be gone in the next couple of weeks and I crawl home broke and demoralized. Best case scenario is that I can make enough money to get the record label up & running and can travel further next year, while having a fun time in Melbourne.

The job seems to be ideal for the half dozen cute little Oirish gairls who joined Ė they all got two or three sales on their first day. Being a slightly older male, over six foot tall and with a less obvious foreign accent isnít necessarily a bad thing as several of the more established guys fit that description. The CEO is 25. The companyís going through an expansion period and the good salespeople are raking in insane amounts of money. I donít have any aspirations to Ďmake ití in the corporate world. All I wanted was a job which would let me save a bit, and preferably something vaguely connected to my interests and/or with some time outdoors. This job has the outdoor element (walking around the suburbs) and getting people to reduce CO2 emissions is a worthy goal (even if itís only drop-in-the-bucket stuff Ė if weíre all serious about reducing greenhouse gases then the most effective thing to do would be cut out air travel!).

On the other hand, the one job I told myself a few years ago Iíd never do was sales. Something weird happened yesterday Ė we went out to the nearby small town of Warragul and passed a bush fire on the way. There were four patches of thick smoke coming from the hillsides. By late afternoon the sky was hazy and the sun had gone a strange pink colour Ė dimmed enough to look at. There were small pieces of ash falling like snow. All very cinematic, suggesting a characterís journey into damnation. Was that me? What have I done wrong? And arenít I supposed to become king of the world or something in exchange first? Or more likely bush fires are just something that happen here and I should think about the people, and flora & fauna, who might have been directly affected by the blaze. Did the fire service manage to put it out? We should find out today.

One dayís work plus two days training and I still havenít earned a cent Ė training is paid but not until we make ten sales. I guess Iím pretty naÔve, and fell for the (American) recruitment guyís pitch, hook line & sinker. If I get nothing else out of it at least itís a warning to be more careful in future. The way he described it, you visit existing customers to notify them theyíre being switched to green power and have earned a loyalty rebate Ė ďthe jobís a license to print moneyĒ. And he actually said weíre not selling anything, which is just blatant dishonesty. The reality is more challenging. But not insurmountable. Iíll give it another shot today, and if worst comes to worst I hear the jobs section of the Melbourne Age on Saturdays is a centimetre thickÖ

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