“Do you know why I called you into my office today?” He looked so smug, playing with his tie. I opened my mouth to respond but hesitated for a moment. I could see his gaze momentarily catch his reflection in the window, checking himself out. I recomposed myself and responded to his question.
“Look, I know my numbers haven’t been great, but I’m telling you Mr Hughes, I will do better. I really need this job.” I tried to keep a straight face as he nodded along happily. When I finished he leaned forward with his hands place on his desk.
“I’m glad to hear that kiddo. But I need to make sure that you have all the tools you need to be as effective as possible here. So we’re just going to do a little bit of roleplaying so that I can see how you’re doing.”
“Um, okay, sure. What do I do?”
“Well.” He pushed an unplugged phone towards me. “Pick up the phone.” I held back the urge to sigh and picked up the handset. “Now how do you start?” he asked in a whisper.
“Hello,” I said in a voice an octave higher than I would normally speak in. “I’m calling today from Royal Insurance, and we are offering a deal today on life insurance that is going to make sure that your loved ones are set up for the future. Can I ask who your current provider is?” I finished and look at him expectantly.
“Good, good. Now I do have a few small suggestions. You say we are ‘offering’ a deal. That makes it sound to much like they have a choice. We want then to think that they can’t do anything but buy our insurance. That’s how we get customers. Now try again.”
“Um, okay. Today I have a deal that is going to make sure that your loved ones and set up for the future?” I said with hesitance.
“Great now you’ve got the idea of it.” He stood up, and I awkwardly followed suit. He stepped out for behind his desk and began ushering me towards the door. “Now you put that to good use, kiddo. I can’t wait to see your numbers for the night.
I walked back to my desk and sat down. I picked up the phone, a real one this time and placed it to my air. I positioned my finger over the number pad and paused.
I needed this job. I just had to swallow my pride and do what the boss man said. How hard could it be. I dialled the phone. I parroted the script to the best of my abilities. I repeated the inane task over and over again until the night finally finished.
“Good to see you doing better,” Hughes told me with a pat on the back as I was leaving. “We’ll make a salesman of you yet.” He kept walking, filled with a hearty laugh as he went. I paused to let him get far enough ahead of me that I didn’t have to listen to it anymore. At least there would be a paycheck in the mail.
I put the phone down with a thud and stood up. I couldn’t put up with them any longer. I looked around at everyone else in the room, handsets held to their ears. They looked up at me, but never stopped talking. I turned to leave.
From his office I could hear Hughes hurry to catch me. He struggled to keep pace as a made a beeline for the door. His cheeks were bright red.
“Where are you going?” He said. He aims waved about as he did, trying to emphasize just how ridiculous I was being.
“I don’t know, but I’ll be happy as long as it isn’t here.”