Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bookfield, Debriefing

Guys from Parchment who were heading back to Nashville for the Sunday debriefing picked me up at the Sanders’. They had been further South in Georgia that summer. The ride was uneventful. Everyone was nervous about checking out. How much money would we get? We pulled up to Parchment Headquarters in the early afternoon. We piled out of the car with our sales cases and luggage and headed into the building. I went through the formalities of turning in my case, remitting final cash from deliveries and filing out forms at tables set up for the occasion. Then I was told to wait.

I hung around sitting on the floor with my forest green duffel bag and sometime later someone called my name. I went to the table. I had earned a profit of $3,000 that summer, about average for a first summer. My take home was $1,500, so I had spent about half during the summer and it was minus Chip’s cut. I was ready to go home now. Finally and at last, the summer was over. I had learned a lot about people and was hugely relieved that it was over. I had found oodles of confidence, enough to even survive summer at home. The ‘there’ part of it was over and it was time for the ‘back again’ part of the journey.

Robbie’s secretary came out and found me. “It’s time for your debriefing honey. Come with me.”

I didn’t realize that I would have to face Robbie again. I was despondent over this, but followed her with my duffle bag into Robbie’s office.

“Hi Sue. Good to see you back. Sit down.” I did. He continued, “Okay you made through the summer all in all pretty well. I see here that you had an average summer for a first year. Good job. There were some bumps, but that is to be expected.” He finished his mostly financial review in detail.

“Thanks Robbie. Can I go now?”

“Wait a sec Sue. What I would like to know is if you will come back next year as a sales manager.”

What a shock! It was as if a lightning bolt struck me. After the horrible struggle I had to make through this summer, it was inconceivable to come back. Thoughts of how unfair the bookfield tactics had been raced through my mind: the sexism, the brainwashing, the focus of my entire life on sales, the humiliation of sales meetings and that phone call from him. There was absolutely no way I would ever even consider coming back.

“No.” I answered calmly. Then I burst into tears. It was uncontrollable loud shaking sobs, tears racing down my face and dripping onto my jeans kind of crying. I could not stop. How could he think I would ever come back? “Never Robbie.” I managed between sobs.

He was stunned at how upset I was by his question. He added that when first timers had an average year, they were all asked to come back as managers, and besides, then I would make a percentage of my sales force’s profits. He raced over to calm me, but I did not want him to touch me at all. He then left to get his secretary. They came back together and I did not welcome either of them. They fussed, offering me water and such. I fended them off. He kept trying to guess what was wrong. He was so far off I knew that there was too wide a gulf between us to ever be bridged. It started on the first day at the sales training; when they leered at me in the hallway and compared me with my twin like we were slabs of meat, when they humiliated people at the training, the sloganeering, Chip and Gregg vying to score with me. It only got worse from then on. And so the gulf grew, unchecked. I had literally done only what was needed to reach my goal of staying on the whole summer. I achieved my goal, and only now was beginning to pay the full price.

“May I go now?” I asked again, the thought of going calming me somewhat.

“Yes Sue. If that helps, you may go.”

I got out of there as fast as I could with my duffle bag. ‘Free at last, free at last, thank almighty God, I’m free at last’ was my thought as I left.


Ryan said...

yes thank god!

Sue said...

Amen Brother! Halleilujah!