I have been in a professional wasteland now for two or three years. After my unexpectedly sudden departure from the world of tug boats I actually managed to land on my feet. The tug boat job allowed a lot of freedom in terms of where we lived because I was commuting to work and living on the boat for two or three weeks at a time. Where home was didn’t really matter. We settled in an area close to where we grew up and things were fine until I was thrust back in the job market. Opportunity for a guy with two college degrees and no real ability to build or create things with my hands was nonexistent in this area, but I fell into this sales job that actually paid phenomenal money for such an economically distressed region. Sadly a year so after I took this job a bad economy got much worse. For two years now I have been a salesman trying not to sell. It is an odd position to be in, but I the cold hard truth is my company cant afford to supply me with product to sell so every order becomes a potential customer service nightmare. It is exhausting and it has completely worn me down.
The one upside is that I don’t work a lot of hours in the run of a week, and the flexibility in my schedule has made family life somewhat easier. I have learned to cook and actually quite enjoy it now. I cook the vast majority of the meals we eat. My son is 2 ½ and when problems arise with daycare, illness, doctors, etc., I have had the ability to step in and deal with them. In fact today I am home with my son as a stomach bug has swept through the daycare hitting every child and the sitter with the single exception of my son. During the summer months when economic opportunity blosoms along with the flowers I have been able to earn supplemental income to offset some of what I am losing through lost sales. I get paid a salary that for this area would be respectable money plus a small commission on business done with all my accounts. Despite losing 20% of my pay over the last two or three years I still make ok money. Its not great, and if it gets to be less we will have a problem, but it would be hard pressed to get much worse. For the hours I work it is still shockingly good pay for this area.
Of course business can’t continue this way. Eventually things will either get better or I will lose my job. The current circumstances cannot remain. I do business over a large area, but the industry remains a small community and the financial woes of the company I work for are becoming less and less a secret. Tuesday a salesman that works for a competing company, but with whom I get along well, called to tell me he was leaving his job. He works for a significantly more stable company. If they are half as stable as they appear from the outside they will be twice as stable as the company I work for. It is a good opportunity. I spoke to the owner of the company yesterday afternoon., and after having spoken with this other sales guy again I fully expect to receive a job offer.
So the question in the back of my head is why aren’t I excited about this? I have gotten very little sleep the last two night because of the worry. I was wracked with anxiety last night about jumping into the unknown. I have struggled throughout the day today with what exactly the problem is, and I have come to a couple conclusions. The first is that I am simply comfortable. I have written at length about the challenges my stomach presents to a job on the road. In this slow economy I work so few hours that my real exposure to these on the road issues is limited, and because I am operating out of my house nearly five hours from the nearest boss if I am having a rough go of it I can always cut a day short. I have become comfortable and a little lazy too. The second reason is a misguided sense of loyalty that has gotten me in trouble before. I like the people I work with, and they are a known quantity. Lastly and most importantly is the simple truth that I don’t want to be a goddamned salesman. I don’t really like it, and I am not all that good at it. It is not a great gig for a guy with generalized and social anxiety problems. I am AWFUL at cold call sales. My current job requires none of that. My focus these days is on preserving the customers I have, not trying to expand the group of people I cannot serve. In a more stable company I am going to be expected to grow the client base. For some time now I have been dreaming of my escape from this job into something I actually want to be doing. I never really considered jumping from one sales job to another.
The offer has yet to come through, but in talking with the other sales guy we are probably going to hang up on money. The company I work for currently is headquartered out of state and their pay scale reflects competitive salaries for where they are from not up here. I know the sales guy I would be replacing made $5k – $7K less than I did last year even with my god awful sales. I cant afford a pay cut so if they cant match or beat my current circumstances it leaves me little choice but to stay on this sinking ship.
Time will tell how this opportunity will work out, but it has opened my eyes some. I am way to comfortable wallowing along with my current employer. The customer service challenges created by their financial problems are incredibly stressful, and are starting to reflect on my personal reputation in this business, yet I am having second thoughts about leaving even if they match the money I am making now. Why is that? Even if it has become even clearer that I do not want to be a salesman doesn’t it make sense to jump to a safer job until I can figure out my new path? I really needed my life to stabilize and calm down in the first non Klonopin months. This is not exactly what I had in mind.