Goodbye Silverleaf

This is it.

Today I will don the blue one final time. Rangers, center field, early season. Should be good. Maybe I’ll go out with a bang and sell like 10 packages. Or maybe it will rain and I’ll pay too much for a hot dog. Such is the nature of sales, I suppose. Either way, this will be my last hurrah.

About two years ago, I took a chance on a job as a salesman. I’d never worked in sales before, but I felt like I’d be good at it. My quick wit, quirky personality and dashing good looks (as well as my ability to B.S. people) were the perfect combination for me to be a sales juggernaut.

One of my dear pals thought so too apparently, because he offered me a job at Silverleaf.

It took some convincing. I had already been to several grindy timeshare tours. I had also “won” drawings. And many times I (or my wife – she loves to try to win stuff) had been called as a “finalist” only to discover we didn’t meet the income requirement and weren’t really eligible, only to be desperately coerced into coming to the seminar anyway. Yeah, I was a little unsure.

Before Silverleaf, I had been in the hotel industry for something like 12 years. That’s a pretty long career to turn your back on. But hotels are a thankless industry. They never close. Things can go wrong at any time. Managers are on call 24/7. By contrast, Silverleaf offered flexible days and 6-hour shifts. Cool!

Silverleaf also promised tons of money, based on commission of course. I had been working primarily for tips for years before this and the idea of making money based on how hard I worked was nothing new. I sort of liked it. Sort of.

And really, timeshares aren’t as bad as their reputation makes them seem. I really thought of the seminars as sort of a rite of passage. Everyone should sit through at least one in their life. It’s a cheap way to travel and, as long as your sales rep was transparent with you, there are very seldom any surprises. Besides, maybe you really could use a time share. My folks have one and we use it all the time.

I made the leap. I quit my crummy hotel job and began working full time at the ‘Leaf.

My first few weeks were amazing. My sales far surpassed those of my peers. I learned a great deal about marketing, sales and human nature. Maybe too much.

But before long, my sales declined. I’m not sure what happened. I peaked within a month of starting, then settled into a mediocre status quo. My sales weren’t too bad. Not too good. My average was, well, average. Enough to pay the bills. On average. But averages are strange, aren’t they?

Like my hotel jobs, hours and income were based on the season. Spring and summer are hot, hot, big bucks, money money money. Fall is like meh. Winter? A good time to cash in your vacation hours.

And it was fine for a while. Summers were catch-up time and fall was slower, but the Texas State Fair made up for it.

Yet I am leaving.

It’s hard to say why exactly. Nothing against Silverleaf or the timeshare industry, both of which I think are fine and legitimate and a great source of income. I think the seasonal up-and-downs were getting to me. I’m not great at budgeting. And the seasons are such that I have been broke every Christmas for the last 15 years.

Also, it is exhausting work to approach strangers in public as they are trying to enjoy time with their families. While most people are cool about it and seem to understand I’m just doing my job, some people are downright mean. Hateful. They see aggressive salesmen as a target for their frustrations. I’ve been on the business end of a screaming mouth hole more than a few times. It makes it hard to keep working.

Budgeting and rude customers aside, I’m just too damned sensitive for this kind of work. I can do it for a while, but it becomes impossible not to feel like I’m bothering people. And when the people do decide to yell at me, I might as well end my shift. People can tell when you’re unhappy. They won’t buy from someone who is frazzled. And I can be quite frazzlable.

Some of these reps make tons of money. Consistently. Silverleaf’s pay is good. Even my mediocre average came out to around $35 an hour or more. Some reps can go weeks selling a package every hour, bringing in around $80 per hour. But I never could.

So I’m a writer instead. Years ago I thought I could be a writer, then gave up because I thought writers made no money. Starving artists, you know. Turns out, writers and artists alike can make really good (consistent) money by lending their skills to corporations who want to portray a consistent and creative brand.

I got this gig with American Airlines and it’s starting to – well, take off. Haha. Plus my other freelance clients need me more than ever and Milo’s getting big and busy and I’m tired of working weekends and never knowing how much my next check will be. So.

I am leaving behind the sales life. The marketing lessons I’ve learned are already being utilized in my writing career. So thanks for that. And the zany cast of characters I met along the way were seriously a blast to work with.

Goodbye Silverleaf. It really was fun. Sometimes it was great money. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

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