Selling My Core Values
I decided that alongside catering, teaching acting to underprivileged kids, freelance writing, and temping I needed another day job; sales. Auditions have been occasional, but I’m a New Yorker in LA, I need to keep moving. And there really is only so much yoga, hiking, and walks on a beach a person can do. I still feel like I just moved here.
I’m ransacking craigslist one day determined that the state of the economy will not affect the state of my optimism and I come across an ad; “Full Time work, $200.00 a day”, for real?
A bell goes off, ‘It’s got to be in sales, I’m good at sales and I’m an actor.” They say that actors make the best sales people. We’re quick with improv, bubbling over with personality, and naturally flirtatious; which also means we make great liars.
I email my resume and twenty minutes later get a call from the receptionist to come in for an interview. I have an odd feeling. But I go anyway. Curiosity burns the gas. I drive to the office of a promotional company at eight o’clock in the morning. The office is so plainly decorated it might as well have been a waiting room for anything. While I’m waiting, about a dozen other youngsters arrive, college kids, aspiring models, other actors, people who need work.
At around 8:30am, after everyone has left, I am asked to enter the private office. It smells like dirty socks. There are no licenses docked on the walls, no posters of the company, nor any file cabinets or inspirational ‘GET TO WORK’ posters. There is a desk, a lamp, two chairs, and a man; the boss sitting opposite me. He glances at my resume; my ‘office’ resume, not my ‘acting’ resume.
I am overqualified, but I am hired. This is the job. You know those people that stand around on the streets asking you what you do with your hair, what salon you go to, and how much you pay for it, when in fact what they’re really asking is if you want to buy into their promotional package that has a monthly fee, meanwhile hoping you will forget to cancel it, so they can then pay their employees the grand commission fees they promised them? Yeah, that’s it.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with sales, in fact there’s
nothing wrong with this job. There is real potential to make about a thousand
dollars a week and I could use that, trust me. I’m just wrong for the job, for
the right reasons. The core values in me as a person are working against the actor
in me as a salesman. Yesterday, my first and last day, I am pitching the
product, to every single girl with hair I can find in a suburb in California
And I find that the reason why I’m not selling is because I don’t believe in it. I intellectually know it’s a good deal and that the customer has every right to cancel. But looking at the faces of these struggling college students who can barely afford to buy their books, how could I possibly coerce them into spending a hundred dollars on a few salon visits for their hair?
The buck really stopped when I realized I was selling to a single mom who was putting herself through school after she filed a restraining order on her abusive boyfriend who recently tried to steal their two year old daughter from the babysitter’s house….yeah…I can’t do this. Instead I engage with her in a fifteen minute conversation about her new found self-respect. And how proud she should be of herself for having the courage to start a new life.
Did I mention that actors make great psycho-therapists as well? I’ve had to compromise my spirit at times in order to support myself, but I won’t compromise my values for a paycheck. No matter how hard I tried to smile and sell, I knew I was lying. That’s what we call bad acting. Let’s just say I, ‘walked off the set’. (photo courtesy of punchstock)
Yours Truly -- Ann Hu