I had a job and Patti didn’t. I worked a few hours a night for the hospital. It was a nothing job. I did some work, signed the card for eight hours, went drinking with the nurses. After a while Patti wanted a job. She said she needed a job for her self-respect. So she started selling multiple vitamins and minerals door-to-door.
For a while she was just another girl who went up and down blocks in strange neighbourhoods knocking on doors. But she learned the ropes. She was quick and had excelled at things in school. She had personality. Pretty soon the company gave her a promotion. Some of the girls who weren’t doing so hot were put to work under her. Before long she had herself a crew and a little office out in the mall. But the names and faces of the girls who worked for her were always changing. Some girls would quit after a few days, after a few hours sometimes. One or two of the girls were good at it. They could sell vitamins. These girls stuck with Patti. They formed the core of the crew. But there were girls who couldn’t give away vitamins.
The girls who couldn’t cut it would last a week or so and then quit. Just not show for work. If they had a phone they’d take it off the hook. They wouldn’t answer their door. At first Patti took these losses to heart, like the girls were new converts who had lost their way. She blamed herself. But she got over that. Too many girls quit. Once in a while a girl would quit on her first day in the field. She’d freeze and not be able to push the doorbell. Or maybe she’d get to the door and something would happen to her voice. Or she’d get the opening remarks mixed up with something she shouldn’t be saying until she got inside. Maybe it was then the girl would decide to bunch it, take the sample case, and head for the car where she hung around until Patti and the others had finished. There’d be a hasty one-on-one conference. Then they’d all ride back to the office. They’d say things to buck themselves up. ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ And, ‘Do the right things and the right things will happen.’ Stuff like that. Now and then a girl disappeared in the field, sample case and all. She’d hitch a ride into town, then beat it. Just disappear. But there were always girls to take their places. Girls were coming and going. Patti had a list. Every few weeks or so she ran a little ad in the Pennysaver and more girls showed up and another training session was in order. There was no end of girls.