Good Monday morning. The weekend was crammed full of fun happenings downtown, but I’ll have to post First Friday photos and story-lines tomorrow. Today I wanted to follow up on a post from June in which I described some rather enthusiastic young people who engaged in a ritual each morning in a parking lot across from Pete’s. Among the details I gathered in June was the fact that they are in town from all over the country as salespersons for Southwestern Books.
Some commenters expressed concerns, which I shared, that the company has a less-than-sterling reputation regarding employee treatment. I decided I would poke my head back into their parking lot for one last, small conversation to see how it had been for them.
Getting Rowdy across from Pete’s at 7:00 AM.
The young man I spoke to told me it has been a hard, but good summer for each of them. He further informed me this was their second or third summers doing sales for the company. They meet at Pete’s for breakfast each morning, do their motivational dance in the parking lot and then go in various directions around Knoxville, including Blount and Grainger counties.
This week will be their last in Knoxville as they conclude sales for a couple of days, spend a few days distributing the books they’ve sold and return to homes or school to resume their normal lives. When I mentioned the criticisms, he acknowledged that it isn’t easy. They often work twelve and fourteen hour days during the three months of the summer. He claimed to know at least one person who made over $50,000 doing so. I also asked about the ones who were here earlier in the summer and he said sales-people get moved around, though I wondered if some had gone home unhappy. Obviously, it was worth it to those remaining if they returned to the job for a second or third time.
Getting Rowdy, Knoxville, August 2011
As for me, I’ll miss their exuberance at 7:00 every morning. Somehow I think Knoxville will have just a little less energy as they travel back to from whence they came. Maybe I’ll hear their exhortation to get rowdy echoing from an empty parking lot as I climb into my car to drive to work. I doubt it will return my own youthful enthusiasm, but a little additional spring in the old step can’t hurt.