The first job I got hired for out of college was a fully commissioned field (out of the office) sales job — selling landline MCI phone service to businesses. Imagine that. It was 2004. Yes, this really happened.
I did well enough in my initial interview to move onto the second stage of the hiring process, which was to shadow a veteran salesperson — Matt — for a week or so to learn the job. I got the time wrong on the first day of shadowing and showed up late. Matt had an area that was “his” to sell; he used a map (not an app — an actual map) to identify which places he needed to visit each day.
Matt didn’t make any sales that day. He explained that the job was about building relationships over time with business owners, many of whom were under contract with other phone companies already.
At the end of that shadowing day, we pulled into the home office’s parking lot. Sitting there in the lot, Matt lectured me about being on time and how, should I not stay at this job, I WOULD NOT find a better income opportunity out there. By the way he was speaking, I could tell that Matt had given this talk before. I think Matt was used to having new prospective hires wonder aloud or to themselves, why they’d take a job selling landline phone service when we all had cell phones (which could only call and text back then, but still) in our pockets.
Matt was talking to me, passionately, as if I’d be throwing away a lottery ticket by not taking that job.
This first shadow day was a Friday. I didn’t show up on Monday.
I recently read this article about the dark side of being a professional sports team cheerleader. The gist of the piece shares how drunk fans can be verbally abusive and how some men get too handsy with the women at team and private events. While that could happen to any woman anywhere, even one who isn’t at work, the hard part for cheerleaders is that they risk losing their jobs should they dare speak up or complain about the mistreatment.
Cheerleading spots are a valuable job. 120 tried out for 25 Detroit Lions spots this past Spring; sounds like a G-League tryout. The women know — and sometimes are explicitly told — that they are replaceable commodities working a job that hundreds of other women would gladly step in and take from them, should one of the chosen ones not accept some verbal abuse and physical-touch line-crossing as just part of the program. The NFL’s response, as you’d expect, was very corporate and evasive and legal-speak. There was no conclusion or solution to the issue; just an it-is-what-it-is information piece.
For Your Game
- Cheerleading for pro sports teams is a highly coveted job. I’ve wondered why, being that cheerleaders are paid pennies compared to the revenue they bring in for teams (literally), combined with the degrading behavior they have to endure from fans. There are reasons: The glamour of the position. The enjoyment of the work. It’s a possible stepping stone for a modeling or acting career. It’s interesting, I’ve known people who work where they work only because of the money they’re paid. And there are many people who do their work for myriad reasons important to them, of which money is not one.
- The stuff detailed in that NYT article is about cheerleading, but it’s a simple snapshot of how you’re treated when you’re a commodity (think extras at a TV show or movie shoot): Your presence has no bearing on the work being completed. If you leave, someone else takes your place and show goes on as if nothing happened. Being replaceable, commodities get offered shit terms via take-it-or-leave-it offers. I don’t know about you or any cheerleaders, but I hated ever being in the position of commodity.
- To not be a commodity, you must be willing to turn down, reject and/or walk away from what will be presented to you as “opportunities.” Most people cannot do this. Thus, most people are commoditized and undervalued.
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