Sunday, 9 August 2009

Childhood Recaptured

Thursday I attended a recruitment evening for a cosmetics company I won't name. Needless to say I did pretty well and was called back on Friday to come in for a trial run Saturday to see how well I interact with the customers and whatnot.

I have five years of customer retail experience. I worked through college and university, and I worked in a huge music/DVD company for Christmas after I graduated last year, so I know that I can do a superb job in dealing with people and products. I was really nervous Saturday morning but knew that once I got into the swing of things I'd be fine.

Unfortunately I discovered that I might as well have applied for a job in telesales. Now, I know I can work with people, I know that I can help them find what's right for them, but one thing I can not do is convince people to buy things they don't need and don't want.

I'm a fan of this cosmetics company - they use organic products, not tested on animals and about 80% of their stuff is vegan (the other 20% being vegetarian) - but I saw such a different side to it yesterday. They're known for having bright, chirpy smiles and an 'always willing to help' attitude, the moment you walk into the shop.

When I got there, they took us to the office and gave us the run-through. We're expected to greet every customer that comes in. (Fine, I can do that.) We are not allowed to say 'How can I help you?' 'Would you like me to show you a demonstration?' 'Would you like my help?' (Um, okay ...) You just do it! (What?) You say, 'Here, come with me and I'll show you.' And give them at least five demonstrations. You don't leave the customer alone at all! No customer should be without a sales person.

How is that not pushing them to buy, buy buy, if you're completely attached to them at all times? I can understand that some people don't really know what they're looking for or and do need help and are afraid to ask. That's cool. But, as somebody who hates having sales people leer over me in shops when I just want to be left alone to browse, I don't feel comfortable doing that. It's one thing to ask, 'Do you need any help at all?' (which isn't allowed to be said at this shop) but to stand right next to somebody when they've popped in on a Saturday just to have a quick look around and browse made me feel awful.

I even got glares from the Assistant Manager when I walked away from two 12-year-old girls who clearly had no money (this shop is really expensive) and were just in town together on a Saturday to look around. I can't force these children into buying something with their last £2.50!

In the end, the manager called me aside and said I looked really uncomfortable and it was clear when I walked in that I was nervous. She said thousands of people come in for shop floor trials and never make it because you have to have full-on in-your-face confidence from the start.

When I left and met up with my boyfriend, I cried. But I don't know whether it was from sadness at failing another interview, or relief. I could tell that the whole thing was going to put a damper on my day but then my boyfriend changed that.

After our friend had arrived, he snuck away for a while. It's probably worth mentioning that a few weeks ago we were walking past Borders and they had a bunch of children's books in the windows. Among them were a selection of the old Where's Wally? books. I joked that I felt like the one thing that had been missing from my childhood was a Where's Wally? book. I'd never had a copy of my own and never so much as looked at one because they were always taken out of the library.

So, to make me better about a crummy day, he snuck away for half hour, went straight to Borders, and bought me my own copy of Where's Wally?: Book One!

One thing I love is the fact that I'm completely open about what I read - whether it's children's books or adult fiction or crime/thriller or horror or chick lit or erotica or whatever. Being an adult will never stop me from reading children's/YA books, so my new Where's Wally? book is holding a pride of place position on my bookshelves right now. Thank you, hunny, for that surprise and making me feel wonderful :-D.

While on the other subject of books, it's probably worth mentioning that my review for Shame On You by Clara Salaman is right here. I know a few of you saw that in my Mailbox Mondays post and found the plot quite interesting.

Onto other things, I bought an issue of New Humanist yesterday (I had never read this magazine until then) and with it came a free pack of God Trumps! Some of the most hilarious descriptions I've read on those cards - you play against each religion's strengths and weaknesses. My boyfriend and I were having a right ol' giggle playing it in Starbucks yesterday.

And, finally, to show how infinitely nerdy I am - my parents have just got some brand new bookshelves that take up the space of one of the walls downstairs and have asked me to organise them! Yes ... I'm excited and I'm a dork! :-D  


Amanda said...

Once, I got a job doing telesales because I needed the money. This was back in the summer of 1999. I went through the weeklong training, and then went one day on the phones. I hated it. I just couldn't believe in what I was doing, so at the end of my shift, I quit. I guess it's not a good thing to try to sell to people over the phone when you believe they should just hang up on your.

Where's Wally? Interesting. In the states, it's Where's Waldo? Same pictures and everything. My kids love Waldo, and someone recently spraypainted an outline of him on the entrance to my subdivision. Yes, the people who graffiti in my neighborhood are very juvenile, but i guess that's better than gang graffiti.

I'm glad you got to feeling a bit better, though.

Faye( Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm) said...

I still read kid books 2. I'll go into the kid section in B&N and look at pop up books. My favorite childhood books R the Frog and The Toad and anything by Dr. Suess lol.

That's cool ur a dork :D

Ceri said...

Amanda - Yeah, telesales jobs are what I'm avoiding because I know I can't do them. I would have never applied to this cosmetics company if I'd known they used those kind of techniques. I believe Where's Waldo? is the American version of Where's Wally? Where's Wally? was published first and then they changed the name to Waldo for you guys (God knows why - it's not as if you can't pronounce 'Wally'.)

Faye - Yeah, kid books ftw! Dr Suess isn't a huge thing over here but apparently it's massive in America with kids. :-D

Amanda said...

Yeah, I read up on it on Wikipedia after seeing your post, and apparently the franchise was bought all over the world and the name was changed to a ton of different names: Where's Charlie, Where's Walter, Where's Effy, etc. Apparently the American/Canadian Where's Waldo has become the most popular of the franchises, and the author named Waldo's nemesis Odlaw, which didn't make a lot of sense anywhere other than the Waldo areas.

Amanda said...

But actually, probably one of the reasons they changed it here was because Wally's too close to Willy, and i don't think they wanted that connotation given to juvenile kids.

Ceri said...

Amanda - Oh, yeah, I guess that kind of makes sense. Yeah, we have Odlaw in our books too which definitely makes more sense knowing about Waldo :-)

Violet said...

Aw their loss. Its probably good you didn't get the job, you might not have liked it anyway. I had once attended a Cosmetics company recruitment drive but when I saw all the people who had turned up I left without even signing up :)

Ceri said...

Violet - Yeah, I'm definitely happier about it now. It didn't seem like a job I'd click with. I think you definitely know whether the job is right for you from the vibes you get.