Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis
susandennis

Continued

I knew it was time to jump the newspaper reporter ship but I really didn't have a go to. I figured making money would be fun. So how could I make a lot of money? Looking at my skill set (slim) and my willingness to have sex for money (not so much), I finally came up with sales. Why not? How hard could it be?

My parents had moved to Valdese, North Carolina and were renting a gynormous house while they built their own. So, at their invitation, I ended my life in Aiken and went to hole up with them while I launched my hunt for a sales job.

Everything needs sales. And the jobs were everywhere. And I was not afraid of travel or moving :). So the problem was Way Too Many Options. There was no internet. I took a notebook and pen to the library and settled in with the Thomas Register. It was a gigantic book of all the companies in the country. A massive index. I started with A and made a list of companies and products that sounded interesting with their address and the name of their CEO. Everything from Bic to Xerox. There were about 350 or so on my list when I was done.

There were no personal computers. Electric typewriters were the BFD of the day. (Even faxes were rare.) I rented an electric typewriter and bought fancy linen paper. I did get my resume printed, but I typed up each cover letter individually. I had no experience but I didn't care where I lived or if I had to travel. Turns out, however, the factor that gave me the most draw was my vagina.

It was now the mid-70's and corporations were under the gun to hire, train and promote women. They didn't want to and didn't really know how, but they had no choice. So, basically, if you didn't have a penis, and you did have a pulse, you were prime meat. I was prime meat.

I spent about six months flying here and there interviewing for jobs all paid for by these companies. It was wild and fun. I interviewed with a corrugated cardboard box company in Schenectady, NY. The job was to design and sell boxes to manufacturers so they could use them to ship their goods.

I was interviewed by a team of old white men on the plant floor. I remember one of them asked me what I would do if I was with a customer and they spit on the floor. ??? I think the answer he was waiting for was 'get me out of here'. The answer he got was 'I would move out of the way'. They, and lots of others, just couldn't wrap their minds around hiring a woman. It was just beyond them.

I decided that I really did need training so I focused on companies that had the best training program. And it came down to IBM and Xerox.

Xerox paid better and seemed like more fun BUT they fell off when they shot themselves in the foot. They had a test they administered to every sales candidate. They were trying to determine if you had the kind of personality it would take to be successful in sales. The test was fine until I started hitting on questions like 'would you wife mind relocating?' and 'how much would you play for a business suit? [there were no business suits for women] and 'would you be ok if you wife worked outside the home'.

After about 5 of these, I got up and turned in my test and pencil and told them thanks but no thanks. I felt like getting a fair shot there was not in the cards.

So I went to work for IBM.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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