By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
Despite the lamentable fact that I couldn’t sell skis in Vermont during the winter, or surfboards in Hawaii during the summer, or even beer to castaways on a desert island, mainly because I would have consumed it myself, I recently got a job as a salesman.
I am not getting paid (and I’m worth every penny), but I do get hugs and kisses, which are priceless.
My boss is my granddaughter, Chloe, who just started preschool and came home on her first day with — you guessed it — a fundraiser.
Fundraisers are an excellent way not only to raise funds for schools, but to deplete funds from the families whose children or grandchildren go to the schools that need to raise funds.
This is known, in many American households, as an economic downturn.
But if it helps kids, especially Chloe, I am all for it. Besides, I’d only blow the money on frivolous luxuries like food and shelter.
I remember when my daughters, Katie and Lauren (Chloe’s mommy), came home from school with fundraisers that my wife, Sue, and I had to bring around the neighborhood and then take to work so friends and co-workers could buy stuff after we had bought stuff, thus ensuring that the girls wouldn’t be known as the only kids in school with cheap parents.
Then, of course, Sue and I had to buy stuff from the kids of all those friends and co-workers, proving that we weren’t cheap. During the school year, however, we were practically broke.
Now, after enjoying fundraiser retirement for the past two decades, I am back in the sales game.
Acting on behalf of Chloe, the CEO (child executive officer) of this enterprise, Lauren handed me the 32-page sales brochure, titled “Prestige Gift Collection 2015,” which offered “unique gifts, kitchen helpers, delicious treats and premium gift wraps.”
The first person to whom I had to give a sales pitch was, naturally, myself.
“There’s a lot to choose from,” said Sue, who had already purchased several gifts, including Item No. 11, the Ho Ho Snowman Roll Wrap.
“I guess I don’t have to buy wrapping paper,” I said, though I was intrigued by Item No. 25, the Mystery Roll Wrap. Even more intriguing was Item No. 21, the Mystery Gift.
“What’s the mystery?” I wondered. “You order them but they never arrive?”
“Pick something else,” suggested Sue, who not only is a better shopper than I am but also, obviously, a better salesperson.
I perused the possibilities, including Item No. 29, the Sunrise Egg Mold (“If my eggs have mold, I’m not eating them,” I told Sue); Item No. 42, the Snap-Lock Containers (“We already have enough Tupperware to store leftovers for Luxembourg”); Item No. 47, the Professional Knife Sharpener Wand (“I’d bleed to death”); and Item No. 66, Cashew Torties (“Isn’t she an adult-film star?”).
I ended up getting a subscription to Sports Illustrated, so I could enjoy reading about people who are bigger, stronger, younger and richer than I am.
Then I took the brochure to work.
One colleague said apologetically, “I don’t even buy from my own kids.”
Another one said, “I have to go to a meeting,” and never came back.
Fortunately, several others fell for my irresistible sales pitch, which began, “I hate to ask this,” and generously purchased items I knew they didn’t need or want but bought anyway, probably because — and this is the key to salesmanship — they felt sorry for me.
I am proud and slightly flummoxed to report that I sold $87 in merchandise, which not only helped Chloe be tops in her class, but ought to make me Preschool Salesman of the Year.
Copyright 2015 by Jerry Zezima