too long; didn’t write


Today was a blasted nightmare hellscape of a day, and when I got home my wife still managed to one-up me within less than a minute of me walking in the door.  I had an eighteen thousand dollar order finally deliver today after two and a half months of sitting in the warehouse, and while ultimately I’m pretty sure everything ended up working out more or less to the good I spent the entire day on the phone dealing with customer service issues and intermittently talking people who had spent an enormous amount of money off of ledges.  Today started with a customer who bought a leather power sectional a few months ago coming in and wanting a refund.  Like, literally, I walked in the door, and they were already in the store.  I managed to trade those people to another set and actually made some money on the deal, but still.  This is me, the entire fucking day:


And, like, okay, there are no bullet holes in me, and that’s probably a whole lot of good thing, but I still spent damn near my every fucking waking second dodging, or looking for furniture in a giant warehouse, furniture that was not where it was supposed to be, or walking up to co-workers and saying things like “I need you to save my life right now, and here’s how you’re going to do it,” and various and sundry other things, and as it turns out that all of that shit is stressful as fuck.  I am actually walking into the last day of my week at negative sales, too, which brings its own special brand of exhaustion with it.

I, no shit, suggested to my boss around 5:30 tonight that we start a fight club, and I’m not sure I was kidding.

(Here’s the kind of day I had, in microcosm: y’all know Panera Bread, right?  They’re tasty and shit.  Today we had an employee from Panera walk into the store and drop off a menu, announcing that they were actually delivering now.  Cool!  At around 1:30, in the early stages of the shakes from hunger, I decided I didn’t have time to leave the store and needed to get a lunch delivery of some sort, and– at the menu’s suggestion– downloaded the Panera app.  Which could not be convinced that the address of my place of business, which is a real place that is actually there, since I was at that address at the time, existed, and so would not let me proceed to the part of the app where I actually order food.  So I called them, at which point the recording informed me that the restaurant was closed for renovations despite the fact that their employee had brought me a menu today.  Extend that exact kind of bullshit to every single interaction I had with any human at any time today and you have my day.)

I don’t drink.  I’mma start.

Adventures in customer service

The kid’s doing well, in case you were wondering.  Also, the iPhone’s Portrait Mode is ridiculous.

So last weekend sometime I sold a sectional.  I am absolutely religious about checking ETA dates whenever I order furniture, as you are probably aware if you’ve ever read any of my posts about my job before.  I absolutely despise dealing with pissed-off people, which makes me the most honest salesperson on the planet, because I’ll lose a sale in a second before I’ll misrepresent when something is gonna come into the store.  Because you’re gonna notice, and I’m not gonna want to deal with you when you do.

So.  A bit of background: our company has two main warehouses.  Our upholstered product is all supposed to come to us from one of them, but if that warehouse is out of a particular piece and the other warehouse has it, we can send an email and switch which warehouse it comes from and it still shows up on the same timeline.  I do this a lot, as you can probably imagine.  However, the person who responds to those emails works banker’s hours.  So I was rather dismayed on Monday to discover that a particular piece had sold out from the secondary warehouse over the weekend and that I now couldn’t get it until– wait for it– June, when I told my customers to expect it in the store in 7 to 10 days.

June is farther away than 7 to 10 days.

No problem!  I found one at our Lafayette store, and decided that rather than wait for a truck to come through from their store to ours and hope that they remembered to put the piece on that truck, I’d just go get it myself today.  It’s like a two hour drive.  I have a former student who I’m still in touch with and quite fond of who is a sophomore at Purdue, so I’ve got somebody to grab lunch with, too!  I’ll go get the piece and have lunch and come back and drop it off at the store and nobody’s the wiser and I’ll lose a chunk of my commission on gas money but whatever.  I like the occasional car trip.

Go ahead, check the weather report for today for northern Indiana.  Because holy Christ, why did I do that stupid thing I did.  I have never seen fog in my life like the Lovecraftean, Ravenloft-esque insanity that I had to drive through today.  We’re talking maybe three seconds of visibility in front of the car, less on the heavy spots, for the first two thirds of the trip.  I thought about turning back repeatedly, consistently falling prey to the sunk cost fallacy and reasoning that surely I was damn near out of the fog by now and that it would be, would have to be, gone by the time I was on my way home.

Also, once I got to campus, my GPS utterly shit the bed, trying at one point to send me the wrong way down a one-way street, then redirecting me to another street that it could have just left me on the entire time rather than taking me out of its way to nearly die, and then directing me into an alley between two buildings that abruptly turned into a bike path that just-as-abruptly turned into nothing, at which point I called my former student and described where I was as best I could, informing her that I wasn’t moving my car again and she needed to come find me.

(Also: I’m not a complete idiot.  The other problem with Purdue’s campus is that there are damn near no signs anywhere.  Signs that say things like “No Exit,” which one might put before a point-of-no-return road of some sort.)

Also, Logansport, Indiana is the worst place in the world and I don’t want to hear any different from any of you.  I got directed through “town” for some reason and half of the place was utterly deserted and everyone in the rest of it had the Innsmouth look.  I deliberately took a different route back to avoid the town.

We lingered over lunch, at any rate.  I was the oldest person in the restaurant by at least 18 years and we were both vastly entertained by the literal hush that fell over the room when we walked in, as everyone tried to figure out if I was a sugar daddy or not.  When the hell did college students get so Goddamned young?

I was planning on being home by 2:00 and didn’t bother leaving West Lafayette until after 1:00, figuring that the fog would have to have burned off by then.

Nope.  Just as bad on the way home as on the way down there, except without the opportunity to turn back.  Also, west central Indiana smells terrible.  That sounds like I’m just being mean because of IU vs. Purdue regionalisms and I swear I’m not.  It smells awful.

Point is, I think I deserve a tip for this one.

Oh god damn it


I have made $2500 in commission on my sales this year.  This year.  Six weeks.  I did the math; I’m selling furniture for less than $11 an hour.  The company is currently earning interest on sixty thousand dollars of undelivered product.  I don’t get paid until shit ends up in people’s homes and everything I’ve sold is either still backordered or waiting for someone’s house to be ready.  Right now I expect to make minimum wage this week.  If I wasn’t married to someone who makes a lot more money than me, I’d be staring down homelessness right now.

I had a $12,000 ticket last weekend that didn’t earn me a single dime and won’t pay off until May.  That big $18,000 sale at the very end of December?  Scheduled to deliver on March 20th, still five weeks away; I don’t see a cent until then.

I was at work for nine hours today and sold $13 worth of product.  A co-worker came in on his day off and made $3300 in sales in less than half an hour.

Fuck this.  I could literally be making more money flipping burgers.

I just applied for a teaching position.

God fucking help me.

On doxing myself

job-huntThe two-year anniversary of my formal resignation from teaching passed without comment a couple of weeks ago.  It took six months of looking before I found the job I have now, and I basically have not stopped looking for work since then, as I’ve never really felt like furniture sales are a viable long-term career for me.  The hours are killing me, in particular; I can count the number of weekends I’ve had with my family in the last two years on one hand, and there are still multiple days a week where I don’t see my son at all in between dropping him off at school in the morning and putting him to bed immediately when I get home at night.  Plus, while I am actually pretty good at my job– I was #61 in the company in overall sales for the year, and this is a company with over 250 stores– the economy is slowly starting to collapse and I really don’t like working for commission.  We get paid on delivery, not on initial sale, and right now a huge percentage of the stuff I’ve sold in the last few months is still backordered to March.

To wit: I made less than minimum wage this week.  I have two Master’s degrees, and I made less than minimum wage for the 42 hours that I was at work this week.  My boss is barely 30 and my two assistant managers are both in their mid-twenties.  I have already been offered chances to move up to management but the simple fact is I honestly don’t want it, because every time I wargame it out it becomes clear that it would actually lead to less money for more hours and more responsibility, and … nah.  I can keep calling the kid who is young enough to be my son “boss” instead.  It’s just not that big of a deal.

I’ve applied for several dozen different jobs in the 19 months or so since I started at my current job.  I’ve had, I think, two interviews.  I did not have a second interview for either position and heard through the grapevine that one of the jobs ended up going to a relative of one of the people who interviewed me, which was fun.  I’m at the point where I’m so deadly tired of writing cover letters that I’m having to scan them carefully for sarcasm before sending them out, and I was so annoyed by a rejection later that I got today that said they’d “evaluated my skills” that I was halfway through a go fuck yourself, you assholes sort of response before I got control of myself.

You didn’t “evaluate my skills,” you fucks.  You glanced at a cover letter and a resume and didn’t immediately see the boxes you wanted checked so you moved on.  If your letter had said that, I wouldn’t be pissed off.  But I wouldn’t have applied for your job if I didn’t have the skills to do it.  I assure you that my skills are fine.

Most of y’all know that “Luther Siler” is a pen name.  I had perfectly good reasons to take some steps to conceal my identity when I started the blog, but while I’m not considering abandoning the name (I’ve written six books as this dude, and have an actual network of real people who only know me by that name) it’s occurred to me that if I really want a different job, this blog and my Twitter following probably legitimately do represent my best networking opportunity for finding one, and I haven’t used it at all because I’ve always wanted to keep Luther’s and “my” lives separate.  I may need to reevaluate this conceit, is what I’m saying here.  Because this furniture selling thing is really getting old, and I don’t seem to be having any luck finding any alternate work as me.

Somewhat related anecdote: we have a Saturday morning meeting every week as a staff, since everyone works on Saturdays, and this week we did this little team building exercise involving our goals and fears.  One of my co-workers noticed that I more or less dropped out of the exercise entirely when the “write about your fears” bit came up, and asked me about it later in the day.

I told him the truth: that damn near all of my legitimate fears right now involve being stuck selling furniture forever, and that I hadn’t really thought that sharing that little detail with the rest of my co-workers was the smartest way to start my day.

On not fooling anyone

google-deepmind-artificial-intelligenceSo I got a phone call at work the other day.  I answered it and was greeted with a couple of seconds of silence before the person on the other end asked for some sort of manager– in charge of marketing, maybe?– that our specific store doesn’t have.  I explained that we’re corporately owned (this type of phone call, at least the initial part, happens more often than you’d think) and that not only did I not know the name of the person who was in charge of marketing, they likely weren’t called the “marketing manager,” and they were also almost certainly in Denver and not Indiana.

A brief moment of silence again.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that,” the person on the other end says.  “Can you repeat your answer?”


“I’m talking to a robot, aren’t I?” I said.

A brief moment of silence.

“No.  This is a living person,” the robot on the other end lies.  At which point I hung up on it and it didn’t call back.  I briefly regretted not asking it what the main ingredient was in tomato soup as a quick Turing test and then went on with my day.

Your question for today:  Even assuming that we live in a world where a voice-recognition computer program is the tool you want to use to determine who runs marketing for various local furniture stores, why would you a) program that computer to lie about being a computer when challenged, and if you choose to program the computer to lie, why would you program it to lie in such an unconvincing manner?  No actual living person would have answered like that.  Not one, anywhere.

Theories are welcome.