I work at a radio station. Sometimes things are crazy, sometimes they’re surprisingly dull. But I’ve been doing this crap for nigh on twenty years, so there are very few surprises. But as I age, I realize that I’m surrounded by a crew of children. And I mean that in the most literal sense: I am older than everyone in this building now, and some of our salespeople could feasibly be my children. They were born about the time I was graduating college. Damn.
Anyway, this was a good week to learn things from our salespeople. Like, for example, how little some of them know about stuff that I find very important or fascinating. I’m not calling our young sales staff stupid; quite the contrary, some of them are very bright. They’re just…green. And young. (Did I mention how young they are?)
Example number one: One of the cuties in the sales pit asked what I was doing for Halloween. I proudly answered that I would be going as Captain James T. Kirk.
She stared at me, and I couldn’t figure out what to do next. I stood there, looking around, waiting for her to say something. And so she did. She replied “You mean Kirk?” and pointed at one Kirk T. Flatter II, another member of our crack sales team. Kirk shrugged, because he “gets it” and probably hears jokes about his name every goddam day. I then tried to explain the history of the U.S.S. Enterprise, but got more blank stares. Okay. I learned that no everyone is a geek. Fair enough.
Later in the week, I had a more fulfilling convo with a Senior Member of our office staff. Now we’re talkin’. We discussed childhood candy, and I learned that I was not the only kid to collect their weekly cash and then make a mad dash for the local convenience store for an exercise in fiscal responsibility (or at the very least a lesson in worth.) See, our old Kwik Pik had the standard Aisle O’ Sugar (sometimes called The Golden Mile or Cavity Alley) that featured the usual strata: Snickers, Milky Way, and the like, i.e. the Premium Candy was at the top shelf, and ran at least fifty cents a piece, sometimes more. Right below that was the B-list candy. Clark Bars, Charleston Chew, and their ilk. Third shelf was Lemonheads, Wacky Wafers, Lik-M-Aid, Laffy Taffy, Chick-O-Stix. Finally, the lowest shelf was for those in steerage: five cents (or LESS!) per. We’re talking That crappy PAL gum. Bazooka gum. Jolly Ranchers (not the big ones. Those were one shelf up, and if you sucked on them long enough you could fashion a shiv in case a playground rumble got out of hand. Absolutely true.) But the lesson was always this: Johnny has $1.25 in assorted change. Should Johnny go big and pick up two Butterfingers with change to spare or buy Big League Chew for EVERYONE?!?! In retrospect, I see why my parents let me blow all my money on candy and comic books. There was a tangible risk/reward system. That is, until the store put in a Ms. Pac-Man arcade cabinet, and any fiscal conservatism went right out the fuckin’ window.
Back to the cute little 20-somethings in the sales department. One of them wore some sort of crocheted afghan-looking skirt. Conservative. Nice. Like something draped over the back of grandma’s couch, only with much less cat hair. I asked her if she made it herself. “It’s knit,” she responded. Okay. I wanted to learn some more, so I inquired whether it was “knit” or some sort of macrame, and what the difference was. She didn’t seem to understand my question, so I got a little smarmy and asked if it was fabricated from some sort of nano-particles. Her reply: “What are those?” Okay, you got me.
So again, I learned a couple of new things. One, nobody in this country knows anything about science and two, I am so glad I met, fell in love with, and married my wife, because there’s no WAY I would be getting laid in the current state of the world.
The final lesson of the week was from a dude who works down the hall producing a local sports-talk show. Like everyone in radio NOT doing sales, he’s poor and worries about his job. But like many of us, he’s also learned that he’s probably not making enough to fire. In other words, finding people to do what we do and do it well for LESS than we’re getting paid is a longshot, so we’re reasonably safe. Anyway, this guy mentioned that he’d just gotten a text from his mobile provider telling him his bill was overdue. I thought that was awesome. I learned that yes, apparently your cell phone company will keep your phone service going even if you’re behind in your payments…so that they can tell you you’re about to have your service shut off. That’s fantastic.
See, kids? You really do learn something new every day.