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Monday, October 17, 2011



In 1970 My Wall Street Company was bought out by Merrill Lynch.  This was an arranged deal recommended by the Federal Government to avoid a confidence collapse and prevent a major US economic recession.  Merrill stepped in and saved Goodbody and Co. only after F.I. DuPont was saved by H. Ross Perot, yes, the same Ross Perot that made a run for President in the 90’s.  DuPont and Goodbody were the number 3 and 4 largest brokerage firms on the street at the time.  If both were not saved the US Banking system might have had major liquidity issues.
Merrill did not want Goodbody.  They did not want most Goodbody employees.  I was expecting to be laid off, so I sought other employment.  I answered an ad at an insurance company selling life insurance.  

The office was three rooms of an old house in New Brunswick, N.J.  The manager was a middle aged sleazy looking dude with a pot belly, slicked back hair, a rumpled suit and a tie which hung below his large stomach.  Within minutes of my interview, I was hired.  Tentatively.  The job paid no salary.  Salary was based totally on commission.  I was to start the next day.  I was to work nights, so I could keep my regular job until the commissions started to roll-in.

The first night I made cold calls:

“Hello Mr. or Mrs. _____ my name is ________ I would like to meet with you to discuss important financial planning that could assure your family of income in case of your unfortunate demise, or guarantee you extra income on your retirement.  I would not take more than an hour of your time, would this Thursday at seven be alright?”

The idea was to talk fast, and get an appointment date commitment before the person even knew what you were selling.  I have heard that some people like cold calls.  It is kind of like fishing.  I hated it.  I have thin skin, I hate rejection.  I got rejected a lot.

I did manage to line up an appointment after about 78 cold calls.  My boss took me on my first call the next day, to show me how to close a deal.   We knocked on the door and interrupted a family having dinner.  The husband did not remember committing to this meeting, but he let us in anyway.  One look at this family and this home told me the last thing they needed was life insurance.  What they did need was enough money to pay the rent, and put some pasta on the dinner plate.  This was a pay check to pay check living family.

The appearance of near poverty did not slow my “Boss” down a bit.  He went into a patter about what would happen to the man’s family if he were to die.  Then he explained how they could borrow off accrued principle, and cash in when he reached 65.  Blah blah blah, it went on until he finally ended, “So Mr.______ how much would you like to invest each month?”

Mr.____ just said, “I don’t know.”
“Well, could you pay $50…. $25…. $10….surely you could afford $5 a week.”

“Well, ah, yes, I guess so.”

In fifteen minutes we were out of the house with a signed contract which I felt sure Mr. ______ would not even remember when he got the first monthly bill, and would probably pay no more than two or three months before he cancelled.

My Boss had a big grin on his face and said, “See, that’s how easy it is. And you get a piece of every payment as a commission.  The more contracts you get signed up the more you make each month.”

I went home that night feeling about as shitty as I have ever felt knowing I had a hand in fast talking some poor sap into something he did not want and probably could not afford.  Not even the $5 a week.

I went into the office the next night.  When I was handed a list of numbers to cold call, I told Mr. Sleeze I did not think this was the job for me.  He gave me a disgusted look and said, “I thought you might be a loser, you’ll never amount to anything….Get outta here!”

He was right; I never did amount to much.  I did, however, sleep really well at night.       


  1. Mr. Sleeze was the loser. He should know that not everyone feels comfortable when doing pressure sales like that. There's only a select few who actually enjoy that kind of of job.

    What a jerk of a boss. Glad you left!

  2. Sleep is far better than sleaze. I would have left too.

    I had a job once where we made collection calls, then switched over to cold calling. Hated that part of the job. I just can't 'force' or push anything onto someone who doesn't want it. I hate it when people do it to me. A simple 'No' is all it takes for me to get the idea.

  3. i just left a job at a big bank about 3 months ago (i have another job now) where i had to start selling things to every single customer. this would be fine, if i didn't work in IT/tech support for that bank. customers don't want to get help troubleshooting their quicken/quickbooks access for 45 mins and then be asked, "have you thought about starting a supplemental ira with us?"

    that is so obnoxious.

    good for you for leaving. i almost took a job at new york life doing the same thanks!


  4. Glad you followed your conscience. I could never do that kind of work either. I worked for a weight loss company once as a "counselor" but we also had to sell vitamins and supplements and food. I HATED that job and left after 3 months.

  5. I could never cold call anyone, my hubby actually quit a job working with Dyson because of this. The company would coax people into buying a $1,000 vacuum, putting them on payment plans, when these people couldn't afford it! Awful!

    I am following from the Monday Mingle Blog Hop

  6. Yuck. That sounds like a TERRIBLE job! Glad you made the right decision and were able to sleep at night. What some people will do for money....

  7. Those 'preying' jobs are just the pits. I have never been able to do the salesman thing. It's just so underhand (even when it's not). x