A Followup on My Problematic Promotion

Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants. —Benjamin Franklin

If women didn't exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning. —Aristotle Onassis

     Some of you may remember that, back in July, I wrote a blog post wherein I mentioned receiving an offer to work as a sales rep up front at the sheet metal shop where I work. The pay was reportedly higher, especially if I turned out to be a competent sales rep, and I’d get to sit on my behind in the air-conditioned and comfortable sales area instead of in the hot in the summer, cold in the winter production area. I was very ambivalent about this offered promotion for various reasons, all of which I explained in the earlier post.

     In South Carolina things can run very slowly. People are less hurried and more laid back than in other parts of the country. Consequently, the offered sales rep job remained in the air for months. Sometimes I would ask the boss if he had changed his mind, and he would say no, he hadn’t changed his mind; but that’s about as far as it went from July through November.

     There were reasons for the slow pace of my offered promotion besides the relaxed pace of South Carolina. I found out that the main guys running the machines in back, the closest we’ve got to warehouse managers, didn’t want to part with me, as I am considered to be one of the most “flexible” and easily trained people back there. I was told that these fellows were complaining about me moving up front because they had big plans for me, or some such.

     But eventually the boss took a significant step towards my job sitting at a computer terminal: he gave me a kind of psychological evaluation. The way it’s supposed to work is that very successful salespeople were evaluated with such a psychological test, and their scores under various categories were designated as optimum. Anyone applying for a sales job would take the test and the results compared with the scores of the heavy hitter sales jocks. One has to agree or disagree, on a spectrum, with a multitude of statements such as, “I am a very competitive person,” “I am motivated to make as much money as possible,” and “I have many interests.” I probably aced the first part regarding mastery of the English language, but under some of the categories from the evaluation I did not do very well. For example, under the heading of likely closing of sales I got a score of 6—not 6 out of 10, but 6 out of 100. The test results indicated that I would be very conscientious, for example, but that I was definitely not likely to be an aggressive salesman. This was no surprise to me, as I really do not have the temperament of a salesman. (I am reminded of the play Death of a Salesman, in which the guy, in order to live a happy and fulfilling life, should have been a carpenter instead of an unsuccessful salesman.)

     The boss likes me though, and was willing to go ahead with the sales rep job for me, despite the 6, saying that I could take the evaluation again with some coaching…but that never happened. Instead he had me undergo some basic training with regard to the new job, which lasted a few hours per week for two weeks. After I finished learning what the job would entail, I was given the choice of moving up front or staying in back.

     I learned a lot of interesting and potentially useful things about the applications of metal roofing and siding, like how to install trim on standing seam roofs, and I learned what some of the stuff I’d been making is for, but one unpleasant thing I learned about the offered job is that it involves cold calling potential customers. I considered that to be the worst duty of the job. Calling people I don’t know and trying to sell them stuff just rubs me the wrong way. (I remember long ago, before I was a monk, preparing for a long backpacking trip. Just one or two days before the planned trip I was taking a shower, and the phone rang. I jumped out of the shower, slipped on the wet floor, and banged the side of my bare foot against the corner of a cabinet, injuring it; and the caller was some damned telemarketer wanting to sell me a rug shampoo or some such. I did the trip with an injured foot and grumbled about people calling me to sell me stuff. It just doesn’t seem right to sell stuff over the phone.)

     Around the time that I was doing the little training course, the manager and my instructor backpedaled to some degree about how much of a promotion the sales rep job would be. For example, sales reps earn a relatively low basic hourly wage with their income increased by sales commissions; and now I was told that I could eventually make a comparable wage running machines in the back, especially considering that I learn how to run machines fairly quickly and am a valued worker.

     So, to make a long story medium length, I finally decided to turn down the job and stay in back and learn how to run more machines. This was mainly for two reasons. First, as I just mentioned, I don’t like the idea of cold calling potential customers. If I were simply attending to people who walk into the store, plus I suppose following up estimates over the phone with people I’d already dealt with, then that would be one thing. I’m just not a money-oriented and aggressive salesman, not even with my own books, videos, etc. And second, the practically endless female chatter up front (currently two males and four females) is just too much. (My sweetheart’s mama is visiting us while I write this, and, bless the hearts of those two fine females, my sweetheart and her mama, about an hour of nonstop chatter between them is about as much as I can take before I excuse myself and hide. And if I took the job, even though it had the potential for higher pay, I’d be listening to that sort of thing every day, all day.

     Guys can talk a lot too; don’t get me wrong. But in the back it’s more likely practical information about work peppered with raunchy jokes and so forth. Up front I’d be sitting through long conversations about what kind of breakfast cereal small children like, the comparative merits of various brands of yogurt, and retail prices of garments. I’d rather listen to some guy in back explaining how his boot was ripped to shreds.

     There was a further consideration of exercise, which went both ways. On the one hand, working in back is good exercise and keeps me in a modicum of good physical shape. On the other hand I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be up for unloading rolls of insulation from large trucks, etc. Also I come home from work tired most of the time, and a desk job, or rather counter job, would allow me to come home with more energy, maybe.

     Anyway, the boss was completely fine with me staying in back, and at this point I would guess that he likes this way better anyway, especially after that score of 6 on my evaluation. The guys in back appear to be content with it also; and now I am being trained to operate the largest machine in the shop, the roll former.

     This whole situation has been a difficult one for me to decide upon, a real dilemma, and I wasn’t sure what I would decide up until a few hours before I told the boss at the end of December. The trouble comes from, on the one hand, the fact that money is necessary out here in the “real world.” I have a woman and a home and various domestic responsibilities, including the responsibility to support my family as well as I can. On the other hand, I’ve never had much regard for money, not since I was a teenager anyhow. Long ago an ex-girlfriend payed me a kind of backhanded compliment by telling my mother, “He doesn’t like money!” It’s not that I hate money, but rather I see the making of it as a kind of troublesome necessity, like brushing one’s teeth. And I've never needed very much of it.

     I lived for literally thirty years without accepting or handling money, and I was completely fine with that. The rule against handling money is one that most monks break, but I followed it even when difficult or even scary (try traveling alone on international flights with zero money, for example). Sometimes as a monk I would even hope that someone would offer me money just so I could refuse it. I’ve been in some strange situations in which Buddhist people in Burma would be essentially pleading with me to take their money. (I remember one time I was walking down the street in Rangoon when a white car pulled over and a young Burmese lady jumped out. She tried to offer me money, but I persistently refused. Then, suddenly, she began speaking perfect English and said, “Yes, yes, I know, monks aren’t allowed to accept money. My father also is a monk. But THIS is for you to buy cigarettes and betel! I still refused, politely of course, whereupon in desperation she looked around and saw two guys lounging on the sidewalk nearby. While she was pleading with them to be my attendants and carry the money back to my monastery, I quietly got the hell out of there.) But now money is necessary for existence.

     Thus far I have been successful at paying the bills, buying groceries, acquiring necessary clothing, and such; but we had a Spartan Christmas this year, and all it would take is for the roof to start leaking, for example, or some major medical expense to arise, and I’d be essentially wiped out. Sales of my books have increased very slightly lately, and a few more supporters have subbed to my SubscribeStar page (though all of the biggest donors bailed shortly after I stopped being a monk), so there is that, plus the vaguely promised raises in my probable future. And so at present I remain by day a modest machine operator and forklift driver, though I do have the duty to keep my eyes open for anything better that comes along, if not for me then for my woman, not to mention our dogs.

     And naturally, I do my best to maintain a calm and equanimous attitude, with gratitude, because worrying about things helps to make them happen. Karma is real. So far, life is good, considering the first Noble Truth of course.


my new machine (including the blue and yellow part, the decoiler, way down at the end)



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