Tuesday, March 3, 2009

True Story Tuesday - Biting the Bullet

The summer before my last semester of college (I was a December graduate), I knew I needed an internship or two to pad my resume before applying to jobs. Ideally I wanted to find one that was paid, but I knew that was a stretch. As a public relations major with a sports management minor, I would be perfectly happy to find something that combined my two education areas. I began doing intense internet searches for sports marketing or sports PR internships in Raleigh or Charlotte. I was thrilled when I found a Web site for Bullet Marketing, located in Cary, which boasted of the work it did for Major League, NBA and NFL teams as well as other well-known brands such as Nike and Wendy’s. It also promised paid internship work. Knowing that the position would be highly competitive, I submitted my resume and anxiously awaited a response. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard back 10 minutes later from a representative of the company asking to schedule an interview for the next day.


Dressed to impress, I arrived at the Bullet office early. I was a bit confused when I walked in and realized that the entire “office” was really just one room with a receptionist and a couch and a second room that was supposed to be impressively outfitted in ostentatious furniture. The only problem was that aside from the receptionist and Dominic (the resident of the “fancy” office, who was very much the definition of a guido), I didn’t see any other employees. Undeterred, I proceeded to dazzle him with my sports knowledge and enthusiasm. As the interview concluded he told me that he would call me by end of day to let me know if I had been selected to take part in Round 2 of interviews, which would entail a day spent shadowing his upper level executives. I was dying for the opportunity to participate in hands on work, and I spent the rest of the day on the edge of my seat. When the call finally came, I was ecstatic. Dominic informed me that I would be shadowing one of his senior VPs named Matt and urged me to wear comfortable shoes since I would spend most of the day on my feet.


I carefully chose the perfect outfit when the day arrived – an olive colored shirt dress, headband, and bronze buckled kitten heels. When I arrived at the office to meet Dominic and Matt, they both looked quizzically at my shoes and inquired about the comfort level. Thinking that I would merely be walking around the office that day I assured them that they were fine. I was told I would be working with Matt offsite meeting with some clients. Thrilled to be thrown into client meetings so quickly, I happily bounded outside to Matt’s car – a beat up, hunk o’ junk ’92 Jeep-thing. I ignored this clear red flag and got in the passenger side, trying to sidestep the food wrappers littering the floorboards.


Matt informed me that we would be traveling to Creedmoor, NC for the day and asked if I knew where it was. I was vaguely familiar with the area (actually, I knew there were signs that pointed the way to Creedmoor by the mall). He then asked me how long I thought he had been working at Bullet since he was a senior VP. I guessed 5 years or so. “Nope,” he said confidently, “2 weeks.” I tried to quiet the warning bells ringing in my head as he told me that he was living on a friend’s couch in Burlington and had been unemployed for over a year. He asked me some questions to “test my knowledge of marketing,” and seemed genuinely surprised when I knew textbook answers to each question.


45 minutes later we came to a stop in a low-income neighborhood in Creedmoor. “Here we are,” he said. “Where?” I inquired hoping that we were at his mom’s house to let her dog out before continuing to the real destination. “This is where we’re starting today,” he informed me. Unbeknownst to me until that fateful moment, our “client work” for the day consisted of selling Subway coupons door-to-door. Every two weeks the product changed and the “VPs” traveled to a different area of North Carolina to sell things. As we knocked on each door in the neighborhood I became more and more disgusted by Matt and his weasley sales tactics, which included lying, manipulating and coercing people who very clearly didn’t have the money to spend. After we thoroughly canvassed the neighborhood in 90 degree heat, we traveled to an even lower income trailer park and continued the task. Finally, mercifully, Matt informed me that it was time for lunch. When I asked where we were eating, he answered as though the answer was painfully obvious, “Subway.”


Before we arrived at Subway we made one more detour into the parking lot of one of North Carolina’s largest mental institutions. When I expressed my concerns about selling these patients Subway coupons he brushed me aside with a quick, “Everyone likes sandwiches, and everyone needs to eat.” I opted to stay in the car for that pitch.


When we finally arrived at Subway, I ran to the bathroom, cell phone in hand and made a frantic call to Boyfriend explaining the situation. He instructed me to leave immediately, but since my car was still in Cary, I wasn’t sure how that would be possible. Matt and I sat at a table to eat, and he borrowed my notebook to outline Bullet’s “innovative” pyramid scheme. After he finished boasting to me about how in a few short months he would be a millionaire and start his own business just like Dominic, I didn’t think I would be able to keep my sandwich down.


About that time, Matt finished his speech and asked me if I was enjoying the day and if Bullet seemed like a company I would like to work for, I very tactfully told him that I felt as though I had been duped; I didn’t want anything to do with Bullet; I didn’t want to finish the day; I wanted to go home. At that point Matt let me know that I would need to find my own ride home and left me sitting at our table. On the verge of tears, I called my savior, Lobster, and explained what had happened. She told me that of course she would come get me, but she needed an address to MapQuest. The Subway was brand new and didn’t have an address posted anywhere, so I had to ask the owner what it was. When Lobster plugged the coordinates into MapQuest it told her that no such place existed. I believed MapQuest. No place like that should ever exist. I felt like I was stuck in the Twilight Zone.


Lobster promised to find me, and I waited for her arrival like a princess waits for a knight on a white steed. While I waited, I perused the next door Food Lion and returned empty handed to the Subway at which time the restaurant owner came and told me what wonderful work Bullet did for them. I know he was trying to be nice, but I had to keep my hand from contorting into a fist and ramming itself into his face. True to her word, Lobster arrived about 30 minutes later, and I doubt I have ever been so glad to see anyone in my life.


The next day when I received a follow-up email from Matt (probably written on his friend’s borrowed computer from the couch he called home) letting me know what a pleasure it was to meet me and telling me that I was definitely Bullet Marketing material and instructing me to get in touch with him if I became interested in the future, I very politely told him what he could do with his Bullet. If anyone in the Raleigh-Durham area is looking for employment, they’re probably still hiring.

10 comments:

The Shabby Princess said...

Yikes!!! There are similar companies like that in my area and I have a few friends who have ended up in your situation. I'm so sorry you went through that, but soooo glad you were able to get out of that Subway and get home!!

April said...

OMG that's SOOOO funny/sad. I have TOTALLY been in your shoes...well not exactly. I knew I was being duped the whole time! I was an advertising major - so EVERY door-to-door sales job pops up when looking for jobs. I went to Fremont, CA (next to San Francisco) for a summer. They paid me $360 a week to be an office assistant for a group of door-to-door alarm salesmen and also paid $1000 a month for rent. Then all of a sudden they decided not to pay me anymore unless I went out door-to-door with everyone else. I WAS LIVID! Ugh I HATE sales.

QueenBeeSwain said...

oh you- we really are the same person, aren't we?!

pray tell what your signature scent is!

kHm

The Pink Owl said...

Wow! That company sounds very sketch! Good for you for not even finishing the day there. I would have been freaked out!!

prettyface said...

O...M...G!!!!!!!! My jaw literally dropped when I read that dude had left you! AHH!!

Just found your blog. Really fun to read :)

Sara said...

OMG! I was in the same situation as you a few years ago. I felt like I got sold to even take a day off for the "interview"!

Rachel H. said...

OMG! That is the craziest thing that I have ever heard! I can't imagine something like that happening and most importantly him leaving you at the Subway. Crazy?!

Lobster said...

darling, you're forgetting a tiny detail. Not only could I not find the Subway on MapQuest, I had to talk to "Matt." On your cell phone. He gave me directions, and then I repeated them back to him, and then he changed them. I have no idea how I got to you. And let's not even talk about the carpool back......

USCEmily said...

Your stories always crack me up! I get my daily dose of laughter from your blog...so funny!

Anonymous said...

OMG! The same thing happened to my best friend, except she got left at a Bojangles haha. Those companies always sound too good to be true!