I’m the “administrative coordinator” in my office. Which is different from a receptionist in that….oh yeah, it’s not at all different. I deal with everyone who walks through the door and everyone who calls.
We get a shit-ton of cold calls. Both on the phone and in person.
My boss hates salespeople. Like, he firmly believes every last one is a slimy, lying, subspecies of the human race.
I on the other hand, love sales people. Or, I did, before taking this job. See, I have a long history with sales people. My dad is not just a salesman but a sales trainer. My brother is in sales. I used to be in sales and some of my best friends are in fact, sales people. It’s a hard job, with lots of rejection and only a few are cut out for it, (I definitely was not. Obviously.) I feel especially bad for in-person sales callers. I mean it’s one thing to be hung up on or insulted over the phone, but being willing to take that kind of rejection to your face takes some serious balls/ovaries. So I respect and empathize with these men and women hocking copiers and office supplies, plying me with candy and promises of cookies if I let them do a demo of their coffee maker (which I totally would have done if my boss hadn’t been here.) I try to be nice, and at first I would lead them to my boss’s office when they asked for him – this was before I knew a) how he felt and b) how much he enjoyed letting them know how he felt.
I learned quickly.
Soon every time I saw an eager faced man or woman in a nice suit carrying a padfolio at my door, my anxiety would spike. It made my stomach hurt to know what they would face if they had the misfortune to interact with my boss. I’d try to explain to them that we were happy with our copier/phone system/paper supplier. I’d push my card at them and urge them to leave before they were spotted. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
One day, as I was talking to a particularly persistent older man (I have to confess, the older men, the ones I put in their 60’s, make me sad. I hate the idea that this is still where they’re at in the career – cold calling office buildings and dealing with overly perky receptionists) so I was already extra uncomfortable for this guy. And then my boss came out. And it was…well it wasn’t pretty. And then I had to spend the next hour pretending to agree with my boss that sales people are a scourge on society.
It was not a good day.
So I started trying to catch them before they even got in the door. I would whisper “You shouldn’t be here. My boss is not nice. Please. You have to go. NOW.” And some of them heeded my advice, hastily handing me their card before scurrying back out into the hallway.
Some refused to hear me. Like these two office supply guys. Late 20’s, very cocky. They laughed at my warning. They assured me they could handle it. I tried again to explain, but then one of them put his hand on my shoulder and said “Don’t worry. We’re professionals.” So between the touching and the condescension, I figured they deserved what they got. So I led them into my boss’s office and then returned to my desk to enjoy the show. And a show it was. They were asked things like “can’t you find a better way to make a living?” and “Do you enjoy wasting the time of people who actually have real jobs with real work to do?” Oh yeah, it was ugly. Way worse than I’d expected, and I was wracked with guilt as the two guys scurried out the front door, their egos a stain on the carpet. My boss then stood in front of my desk and said “There is a No Soliciting sign on the door. The next time one of them comes in here, I’m calling the police. If I’m not here, get their card, and I’ll call the police and report the company.”
Holy Shit Balls.
I want to put a sign on the door that says “Beware of Boss”. Something, ANYTHING to cut down on the carnage. This is the only point of stress in my entire job.
Well, I just had one walk in my office a few minutes ago. He had a sweet, youthful face, and he was selling…something that would somehow make our business better. I leaned over my desk and whispered “I promise, my boss won’t want whatever you’re selling, and he’s not very nice to salespeople.” And he laughed a little and asked for a business card. I said “I don’t have his cards. I’m serious, it’s not safe for you here.” His laughter took on a nervous quality. He said “Well do you have any card at all I could take?” So I gave him my card and he asked my boss’s name again. I hesitated, but finally told him, and as he wrote it on the card I said “but please, don’t call him. Don’t come back here. You won’t like what happens.” He looked at me with a strange expression for a moment then stuck out his hand and said “I appreciate that. Thank you.” I shook his hand while shooting nervous glances at my boss’s mercifully closed office door. I said, “Now go. Quickly, before he comes out. Please. But first, promise me you’ll never come back. Its. Not. Safe.” He nodded and backed away from my desk, then uttered another “I appreciate it” before turning and hurrying out the door.
I think I got through to that one.