Sunday, July 18, 2010

Quality Of Death

We relieve their pain of living, I began my lecture to the training class, and give them hope.
It was larger class than usual. The recruiters are attempting to build a national sales force. Corporate wants more people in the field to sell our services. They want closers who can explain our service, sign the [recipient] and transmit funds immediately before they can change their minds.
It is my job to eliminate ninety percent or more of the students. Only the very best may work for EI.
Those who show any doubt that we are enabling the dignity of human beings are sent away immediately. I will not allow real compassion in the field, only false sincerity.
As I continue my lecture I paced back and forth before the eighteen seated men and one woman. To have a woman in my class was a first. Recruitment is slipping.
I continued my lecture with a series of questions.
When is life worth living? And when is it a living hell? This human coil will eventually fail us. And we will become the victims of corporate housing. Not knowing our own name or the names of our children and loved ones. That is true oblivion. Why not make a choice while you have one?
A hand was raised by a pimply faced young man who asked, Mr. Aboli, who can say what life is worth living?
Didn't you listen to anything during recruiting? We are giving them a choice before it is too late. And it is their choice, not yours.
I'm supposed to help them make that choice
If you are tentative, perhaps you should sell hydroelectric automobiles.
I picked up his training packet and told him to leave. I wouldn’t have passed him anyway. Too young, too full of expectations. My most successful graduates where men with grey hair, closer to the age of the prospect, and able to relate to declining life.
Anyone else timid about this opportunity?
They were all there because of the incredible money to be made. No one spoke, but I saw some who where beginning to question their decision. They could dress the part, in their expensive clothes, short hair and clean nails. But could they ask the question?
I spotted another young man perhaps in his thirties. His right leg was shaking nervously. You, I said as I pointed at him, what do you think this position is about?
We sell, he said and stammered, people a way to kill themselves?
Absolutely the wrong answer. We don't sell anything. We educate, give them options. And we certainly don't encourage suicide. I don't think this is for you. Get out.
Is anyone here familiar with pre-planning?
The class raised their hands to the rhetorical question, but the last to raise her hand was the woman dressed in black. She was a well-dressed, attractive blond, about thirty-five. Although she appeared professional, she had little personality. Usually these sales types were all smiles. Congenial to a fault. I picked upon her.
What does it mean to you? I asked.
Being prepared for the inevitable, she responded.
The woman's face was ridged. Her eyes stared at me without emotion.
That is an excellent answer, I complemented her. Even though I was certain I would fail her.
I chose to give them all a quick test.
Use the keyboard on your desk to type the full presentation you have been given to memorize.
But, Mr. Aboli, we were only given it last night, said a man in his late fifties.
That was a pity. He had the right look, but I could make no exceptions. The front office was trying to push people through and I had to be stringent.
It is our presentation and, for legal purposes, must be accurate. Have you studied the material?
I read it over, he responded, but I thought we'd work on it in class.
You were instructed to know it verbatim today. If this is a problem you may leave. The test will be graded by the amount of errors in the text. Anyone who hasn't committed it to memory may leave now.
The man who had complained was the first to rise, followed by several other men. It was unfortunate that somel of the men were appropriate for our profession. Older, distinguished, still with a future in the business. In the beginning, I would work with a promising applicant. Drill them, groom them in the nuance of the presentation. I have been doing this for over forty years and, because of aggressive hiring practices, I’ve had to eliminate many a good man before I could mentor them.
As they typed the proposal, the computer would score them. Anyone falling below eighty percent failed. The machine made a distinct sound, a buzzer that ended their hopes. The screen would instruct them to go to the receptionist and turn in their temporary badge.
All that remained in my training room were two men and the woman.
She had scored a 97.8. The men had scored 89.6 and a miserable 78.2. The lowest scored was dismissed from class.
This is where the fun begins, I said them, I prefer to work one on one with the right man.
The man smiled at me, a self-assured, arrogant salesman with an acceptable ability to remember four pages of text. Probably a trained actor, but I hadn't looked at his resume. I don't care to even know their names until the real training commences.
I'm your man, he said.
His confidence irritated me.
I turned to her and noticed she had absolutely no expression.
Well? I asked her.
She said coldly, I came here to facilitate people who desire comfort.
It was directly from the opening of the presentation, delivered perfectly, even without my coaching. She was an impassive professional and would make an excellent consultant. If she only weren't a woman.
Too bad the salesman continued to talk. He said,I can deliver any pitch and handle and objection to close the deal.
First and foremost, I said to him, this is not a pitch.
His smile began to fade.
I don't want a huckster representing this company. You may leave.
When the door slammed I looked at her and noticed a sign satisfaction upon her face. It was the slightest upturn of her mouth.
Then I suppose this makes me your man, she said.
It will be a first. But, this has been a long day one. In the morning we will continue with the delivery of the presentation.
She rose from the table and I noticed how tall she was, with an athletic build, and her broad shoulders filled out the black suite. She picked up her hand bag and then joined me at the front of the classroom.
Thank you for this opportunity, she said and extended her hand. She had a strong handshake and held me tightly.
What is your name? I asked. Since she had passed, I wanted to address her properly.
Angela Lorilei, she said, still holding my hand. My mother was Lana Lorilei. Does that name sound familiar?
No, I said and wondered why she still gripped my hand.
You sold her a kit.
I did?
My palm was beginning to perspire in hers.
Yes, she continued, several years ago. During a field training.
I've sold many kits over forty years.
But this was to a woman who wasn't dying. Had she lived just a few more weeks they would have administered a cure. But she stopped taking her medication. Because of your advice, she gave up hope.
Angela, would you please let go of my hand.
She stopped her dosage and died. Before the kit arrived.
I pulled at her grip but I was too frail to release myself. I saw her reach into her bag and pull out the purple disk, model 605. It worked in minutes.
How many more years of life do you have? she asked.
With modern science, I said, twenty.
But I could not take my eyes off the model 605 in her large hand.
I began to struggle but she was too powerful. She pressed the disk over my heart and activated it. I lost my breath but grasped at the device.
This is for the twenty years my mother could have had, she said.
I collapse to the floor. She stared at me and waited. I struggled to release the kit, but it was too late. I succumbed and my heart stopped.

No comments:

Post a Comment