Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


My IBM sales territory was centered in Greenwood, SC but included 3 counties. However, those three counties were sparsely populated and, I used to joke, a whole lot of those people had easy access to electricity. It was actually a good little territory. I just sucked at selling.

Sales reps were given individual numbers - Susan, we expect you to sell xx typewriters, xx dictation machines, etc. You were actually expected to sell more than just your quota. And, honestly, at the time, we were the only game in town. There really weren't any other electric typewriters worth buying. We also And IBM meant quality in all things and impeccable service of all products.

We also sold the first office computers. There were Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriters (picture on the right) which were quickly updated with our new product, the Magnetic Card Selectric Typewriter (picture on the left). I found these delicious product shots.

I actually still have a little stack of the cards. (But, the date of the card holder says these are from my days as a legal secretary. That's about 4 or 5 entries yet to come. Foreshadowing!!)

I had some great customers. I spent my days going from one to another. Most of my sales were to current customers who were adding a new secretary. I had one dentist who was wonderful - he bought all kinds of shit.

I was paid a base salary. I don't remember the number but it was not puny. And then, on top of that, I got commissions on sales and bonuses. I bought a new car - never been driven by anybody before - an Opal GT - fire engine red. I paid $4,000 for it. Like this one.

I got stopped by the South Carolina state police routinely - like at least once a month, maybe more, for Driving While Young and Female. They were always nice. It was annoying but I was not evolved enough to be insulted. They were always nice and often asked me out and handled my gracious NFW politely.

We were recovering from the gas shortage of the early 70's. That gas shortage was the real deal. Gas stations simply did not have any gas to sell. If they did, the lines at the pumps went on for days. But we were coming out of it at this point. As part of that recovery, they dotted rural South Carolina with $1 pumps.

Out in the middle of nowhere would be a concrete slab by the side of the road would be one or two gas pumps. And nothing else. This was pre-credit cards (there were store cards but no Visa, Master Card, etc.) These unstaffed pumps took one dollar bills. At that time the price of gas had skyrocked to nearly $.40 a gallon but a buck could still get you to the next town. They saved my out of gas ass many a time.

I rented this cheap little house that was not furnished and I didn't care. I had a combination mattress and boxed spring on the floor. I had milk crates for storage and tables. In those days paper plates/plastic forks were really expensive so I did have real dishes and glasses and washing them was a real problem. I just didn't do it. One Friday, I got home from a trip to the branch office where I had gotten a bonus for something. I had $300 burning a hole in my pocket and a sink full of dirty dishes.

I got back in the car and drove to Sears. The country was in a recession and the sales guys at Sears were desperate to sell shit. I found a portable dishwasher that didn't need any kind of installation. The tag said $400 and two week delivery. I found a nice sales guy and asked "If I give you $300 cash, would you get this delivered to me today?" and he said "Honey, if you give me $300 cash, I'll carry it out on my back and follow you home right now."

My dishes were cleaned that night.

The other big memory from those days was Watergate. I had made a handful of good girlfriends there and we were addicted to Watergate news. They were airing the Senate hearings on TV every day. So we would gather at one of our homes every single day after work and watch the hearings and then the news and then chew over the juicy details the rest of the evening.

I lived in Greenwood and worked for that Greenville branch office for almost exactly two years. It was plenty of time to discover that my passion and talents were not in sales. And that the good money wasn't good enough to keep me there. Time to move on.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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