In a recent post I mentioned that one of my former jobs was as an Amway salesman. An anonymous commenter posted this:
You, an Amway salesman? There's got be a good story. C'mon, give.
Okay, so here's the story. It's actually an excerpt from my book about growing up in the '60s... that will be released within the next few months!! (In the meantime, buy my other book. It's only $2.99... that's at least a laugh a dollar!!!)
It's 1964 in the San Fernando Valley, California:
I got my first job. This was difficult since California labor laws required you be at least sixteen and I was still two years shy. But that didn’t bother Amway.
Amway is a company that makes cleaning products sold door-to-door. It’s not like you applied for a job, went through a lengthy vetting process, and were hired. You just bought the sales kit for $20 and shazam! You were a proud member of the Amway family.
My friend Mark turned me on to this golden opportunity. Mark also turned me on to Playboy magazine and those magnificent “Girls from Latvia” so he certainly had street cred. We went to a sales pitch where this huckster demonstrated how everyone could make six-figure incomes. Just by selling cans of spray-on shoe polish! He even had a graph (which looked suspiciously like a pyramid now that I think about it) that proved it!
So every morning I trudged off to nearby neighborhoods with my little plastic case of samples and order forms. The sales pitch was this: After the customer allows you to enter their home, conduct a series of amazing demonstrations. Spray one of their shoes. Grind dirt into their carpet and show how Amway’s magic spot remover cleans it up in a jiffy. Foolproof! The truth is the products were actually excellent. They really did what they promised.
But it turns out people didn’t just let a 14 year-old stranger into their homes. Who knew? Out of a hundred houses, my success rate was probably one.
And it turns out those weren’t the best houses. Usually the fair maidens that invited me in were drunks in tattered nightgowns that would let Nazi Youth in if it would break up the day. Often these homes were rundown, had big gleaming motorboats in the driveway and no furniture, or a brand new color TV/Hi-fi console and orange crates.
I think for the entire summer I made $25.00. Then Amway billed me $20.00 for the plastic case and $1.75 for the handout brochures. After ignoring four of these rather rude invoices, I received a no-nonsense letter from an attorney threatening to sue me and seize all of my assets (which at the time meant baseball cards and a thousand bad Connie Francis 45’s). I dashed them off a reply reminding them I was 14. They were employing a minor. The threats ceased.
The plastic case broke in September.