That’s a Rap, Pt. 2

The turnover rate in our sales department at SupplyMart might be best compared to that of a fast-food restaurant. And at that, a fast-food restaurant with particularly low retention, like Bojangles’.

I became aware of this fact during my first week on the job, when two people got fired. One of them was a sweet, bubbly, Chinese homegirl from Brooklyn named Brittany. We got along splendidly from day one; three days later, after she was fired, I was assigned her territory and realized I had been hired to replace her.

As it turned out, only two people on the entire sales team of twelve had been working for SupplyMart for more than a year. Those who had made it past the six-month mark (which entitled one to a meager ration of paid time off) were considered veterans.

To be fair, sales positions in general tend to be revolving doors, being extremely cutthroat and cyclical. It is a job that demands persistence, aggression, rigid self-management, and, above all else, the ability to meet metered performance goals: namely, the sales quota.

In sales, your performance is very easy to track and quantify, and at SupplyMart the fundamental goal for all sales staff is to make 50 calls per day. Of those 50 calls, a certain percentage are bound to be solid client leads; of those solid leads, a good salesperson should be able to cultivate several accounts that should ultimately lead to greater purchases and incoming revenue for the company. The process is both an art and a science.

The hard part for most comes in the beginning of that process, when wading through those 50 calls. Though a portion of the leads are bound to be viable, the other ones equate to a crapload of rejection. And few (apart from some masochists and recurring American Idol auditioners) enjoy rejection.

Within my first few weeks on the phones at SupplyMart, I had developed a pretty thick skin, to say the least.  However, after listening to a few of my veteran coworkers on their headsets, I realized that there was a skill to qualifying leads over the phone which allowed a good salesperson to reject the unprofitable customers before they had a chance to switch it around. It offered a pretty fascinating glimpse into the construction of desire in the human psyche. Everyone really does want what they think they can’t have, even if it’s something as utilitarian as a  business membership for procuring office supplies.

In general, I didn’t hate my job; in fact, there were days when I got quite a thrill out of it. And, frankly, that’s what scared me the most.

“This job is just so uncreative,” I whined to Shirin one morning on the subway. “Every day is the same. Like, I literally can’t remember what I did last week. I don’t even remember who our rep was for Friday vendor training.”

Shirin stared blankly at me. “You know what, Kristine,” she said, “If you don’t want to be there, then why are you there?” This wasn’t the first time I had lamented after just under two months on the job, and I could tell she was growing weary of my trifling.

“Yeah, you’re right,” I said. “I’ll stop talking about it. I need the money right now.”

“No,” Shirin persisted. “If you don’t want to be there, then why be there? Why put yourself in a position where you’re unhappy every day? Just quit. You can find another job.” There was no sarcasm in her voice; she was serious.

Continue reading

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That’s a Rap, pt. I

Bad Kristine, bad blogger! I have not updated in the past month, and it is simply not acceptable, no matter what excuses I make. Over the next few entries, I’m going to recap some major changes I’ve made in the past 30 days:

Glamorous as it sounds, life as a sales account manager is not the thrilling experience one might expect. I started my job at SupplyMart on October 1st, which was also my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary (which, coincidentally, is also very same day that my mom filed a restraining order against my dad for cursing in public. But that’s another blog story. Happy Last Anniversary, guys!).

After just over a month of workdays that consisted primarily of sipping coffee (or rasberry zinger tea, if I was feeling sassy), making phone calls, cursing my computer’s slow software, and staring into space, I started to debate whether life at a cubicle was really something I could handle.

I considered this one day as I reached into my desk drawer for a plastic container of raw shea butter that I kept stowed in there. Rubbing some of the soft, yellow paste onto my nose and chin, I glanced at Shirin, who was watching me from her swivel chair.

“Ew. Butter-face,” she admonished.

“Thanks,” I replied, unfazed, and returned the shea to it’s home among free samples of Post-It notes and neon Duck tape.

Shirin stared at me, shoulders slumped and head tilted back in the universal posture of boredom. “Ugh, I’ve only made five phone calls today,” she groaned. “I’m going to get fired.”

Continue reading

An Explanation

There is a reason why I have not been posting as much as I ought; in fact, there are two major ones:

1.) I have been too busy living a bloggable life to actually blog about it.

2.) The spare time I have when not out living a bloggable life, I have been spending on Facebook.

The first problem is unresolvable, and I would not fix it if I could. The second problem has become chronic over the past few years, and so I decided to undergo an invasive procedure to treat it.

I deactivated my Facebook profile.

If I can keep my account in remission, that means many more blog posts coming soon. Unless I happen to apply that extra time to living an even more bloggable life, in which case it may mean a major motion picture coming soon. Either way, my prognosis is looking pretty positive.

In the meantime, follow my Tumblr, which I just created:

http://ironmangosteen.tumblr.com/

Cheers.

 

Searching, Day 1 – Encounter on the Subway

Though I was raised in an uber-super-duper conservative Christian household, I don’t affiliate myself with any religion. Today, I identify only as agnostic, if I must identify as anything. However, I still believe in aspects of a spiritual dimension. And I think I may have met an incarnation of my guardian angel today.

While waiting at the 125th Street subway stop in Harlem for the uptown A train to arrive, a middle-aged Hispanic-looking man lowered himself onto the bench next to where I sat. He glanced sideways at me, and then at the tracks in front of us, then back at me. My spidey-senses tingled as I waited for him to try to say or do something.

“Mira (something) (something) basura! (Something) (something) debe limpiar!” the man finally said indignantly, gesturing toward the tracks.

I paused to see if my dormant Spanish skills would magically activate and translate the man’s words into an intelligible message in my head. After 5 seconds of staring blankly, I surrendered to my ignorance.

“Lo siento, hablo y entiendo poquito del español.”

“Oh.” The man shook his head slightly. “I said, look at all this garbage, it’s disgusting! Someone should clean it up!”

“Oohh,” I responded, making a very late connection to the words “basura” and “limpiar.” “Yeah, it’s not this bad downtown.”

“Pah, no. You go downtown and it’s beautiful. You could eat off the floor of those subway stations!”

I gagged in mouth at the thought of eating off of any subway station floor.

“But you know why that is?” the man asked me rhetorically. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day Escapades

“Why do  all the holidays that center around food happen during the cold months?” my best friend (and roommate…and coworker) Shirin asked me at work on the day before Thanksgiving. She grabbed my swivel chair and jerked it so that I swung around to face her.

After I recovered from my whiplash, I paused to think. “No they don’t. Pretty much every holiday in the U.S. centers around food, and they happen year-round.”

“Like what?” asked Shirin.

“Well,” I began, extending my hand to count on my fingers. “We’ll start at the beginning of the year. New Year’s is more about drinking than eating. But then you have Valentine’s Day, which involves candy and date-night dinners. St. Patricks day is eating, but mostly drinking. Then there’s Easter dinners. Memorial Day cookouts, 4th of July cookouts, Labor Day cookouts, Halloween candy. And then Thanksgiving and Christmas.” I looked at my fingers. “That’s eight holidays that involve the consumption of food.”

“No, no, no,” Shirin rebutted. “I’m talking about holidays where, literally, the whole point is to make and eat food. Like where people just make a shit ton of food and then stuff their faces. And then pass out.” Continue reading

The Best Birthday Ever

If I think far back, I can remember a time long ago when I used to get excited about my birthday. I believe it was between when I lost my first tooth and changed my first diaper—a span of mere months, back when I still counted my age in fractions.

FLASHBACK

Auntie Kareemah: “How old are you now, habibiti Kristine? Six years old?

Me: “No! I’m Six and a half!”

Those days are artifacts of my memory now. See, early on my parents had a clever scheme to circumvent the shenanigans that accompany most childrens’ birthdays: the parties, the clowns, the presents. I imagine the scheme went something like this:

Hey, why don’t we have a crapload of kids so that our family will have a birthday for every month of the year! That way, the kids will be so sick of all the birthdays, they won’t even want to celebrate! It’s perfect, perfect I tell you!

And it was, because it worked. Eleven offspring later, my family has a member for every sign in the zodiac, if you include my parents. Consequently, us kids grew sick and tired of birthdays back in 2003, the first year we were obliged to eat my mom’s gluten-free cherry cake for 12 straight months in a row.  Not that it isn’t delicious; in moderation, anyway. Now, birthdays are an inconvenience at best, and my siblings and I would likely forget our own if it wasn’t for Facebook reminders.

However, after I moved to college and made some normal friends, I discovered that my disdain for birthdays was unacceptable in some circles. Continue reading

The Office

I don’t watch much TV, but there is one show that has me addicted — like, on a scale from Caffeine to Crystal Meth, it would rate around Oxycontin. From the first time I watched the pilot episode of  “The Office,” I was hooked on the witty mockumentary, especially after I started to notice elements of the show appearing in other aspects of my life. For instance:

1. My dad kind of looks like Steve Carell.

2. At my former job as a dance instructor, my boss’s name was Michael Scott.

3. My grandparents used to live in Pennsylvania.

4. I have always had a habit of randomly breaking out into British accents.

The numerous coincidences listed above have convinced me that the writers of “The Office” have been spying on and using elements of my history and personality for use in their show, which could possibly entitle me to lifetime royalties. I am currently investigating this matter.

That list of coincidences grew on October 1st of this year (just over a month ago) when I started my job as a sales account manager at an ecommerce company that specializes in selling office supplies online. To preserve its anonymity, I’ll call it SupplyMart.com. Continue reading

Surviving Sandy

What I am about to confess is somewhat…very…embarrassing, particularly since I generally try to keep up-to-date on news events, aspiring journalist that I am. But when a friend of mine from Virginia sent me a text last week wishing me luck in surviving Sandy, I assumed the message had been mangled by an autocorrect malfunction.

“Sandy?” I wondered to myself. “Who the heck is that?”

All it took was typing the letters “s-a” into Google’s search field to find the answer. Sandy was Mother Earth’s newest offspring, an adolescent hurricane with a bad case of teen angst. And it looked like she would be stampeding straight toward the New York area.

I recalled a time a little over a year ago when a similar storm had come this way. Sandy’s older sister Irene had struck around the end of August in 2011. I remember this time well because I was with my friend Adela at the time, a fellow VCU alumna and former pageant co-contestant. She had flown to the East Coast from Los Angeles and had been staying at my house in Richmond, Virginia. Our plan to visit NYC that weekend seemed thwarted when announcements were made that Bloomberg, mayor at the time, might shut down the city’s public transportation system as a preemptive act of caution.

“There’s no WAY they’ll shut down the subways,” Ade assured me. “I’m from New York. Trust me.” Continue reading

Kashkar-ama Drama

Here’s a philosophical question for you:

How do two nice girls accidentally end up on the worst double-blind date ever?

Shirin and I recently discovered a foolproof strategy that goes something like this:

  1. Make friends with the young foreign guy who manages the fast food restaurant across the street.
  2. Ask him for help after some heedless motorist decapitates your sideview mirror.
  3. Feel compelled to express your appreciation after he scours internet auctions, junkyards, and auto body shops for the correct mirror model, and then finds someone to install it for dirt cheap.
  4. Agree to go out to eat one night at a Turkish restaurant in Brooklyn after he refuses money or token gifts.

There is something about people who are just to darn nice to you that can be a little unsettling. Bahadur is one of those people. A 23-year-old immigrant from Tajikistan, his kindness didn’t just extend to two pretty maidens in automotive distress. Many times during Shirin’s and my obligatory visits to say hello to him, he would hand out food to beggars, greet beady-eyed stragglers like old friends, and offer to walk old ladies to their cars with his umbrella in the rain. To me and Shirin he was even nicer, always insisting we take something to eat, free of charge, even when we swore we weren’t hungry. We never left the restaurant with less than a double-scoop ice cream cone each.

It became too much for Shirin.

“That guy stresses me out,” she lamented. “I hate feeling indebted to him. At this rate, I’ll have to marry him.” Continue reading

Surrounded

I knew the question would come up sooner or later.

“Wait, so Kristine, your last name is Hadeed? Is that some kind of Arabic?”

I froze in my desk chair mid-swivel at my co-worker, Michael’s, question. I could tell instantly where this was heading.

“Why, yes,” I said sweetly, slowly turning to face my fellow sales account manager, otherwise known as Zucker. He had rolled from his cubicle spot a few chairs down from mine in an early display of detachment from work. It was Friday, and 6 p.m., our moment of weekend liberation, was just minutes away.

“So, what exactly are you?”

My smile stayed frozen as I darted my eyes from side to side. “Umm. I’m mixed. What do you think I am, Zucker? There are four things.”

He stared at me for a second, his head tilted to one side and a pointer finger raised in the air as if give himself time to think.

“I would guess Egyptian…”

I held a poker face.

“…Italian…”

Other members of the sales team turned towards us, all guys except for me and my co-worker (and best friend…and roommate) Shirin,

“…some sort of Black…”

Poker face.

“…and Puerto Rican. Did I get any right?”

I took a deep breath and glanced over at Shirin, who sits directly behind me. She looked at me with raised eyebrows and a helpless smile. Her head slowly shook back and forth as if to say, without words: “you’re on your own.” Continue reading

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