If you’ve ever held an “Area Sales Manager” position or are familiar with the traditional responsibilities of the title, you would have also been confused by the expectations of this new position I accepted.
I left Nestle Ice Cream on a Friday and rode BART from San Leandro to San Francisco first thing the following Monday to attend the first day of orientation at my new job. The dress code was “Business Professional” so my days of wearing slacks and a sweater in a call center were over. I was going to be out talking to people in businesses face to face.
I had to go shopping over the weekend to buy suits for myself or something close enough to pass. Shopping for clothes that make you feel comfortable can be challenging for anyone, especially women. I ask you, though, have you ever had to walk into a store to buy a professional wardrobe as a size 30/32 woman (especially 13 years ago)? I had 2 shopping choices at the time, “The Avenue,” and they didn’t carry much of a selection of suits. Catherine’s was my second choice but I was 28 and their clothes made me feel 60. I did the best I could to pair up some classic black, grey and navy jackets with colorful shirts and I made it work. When you are on a budget and have to pay $49.50 for one blouse because of your size and minimal choices, it’s not easy to build a fashionable wardrobe. To the women in my life who used to tell me, “Just go to Ross or Burlington, I find stuff there for $10 all the time.” Bless your heart. You just didn’t understand that I never really had that option. I dressed to impress, mixing my favorite of the 6 pieces I bought and rode the BART train to my first day of orientation.
The office was located in a busy, downtown area of San Francisco. The BART train dropped me off just 2 blocks away and when I exited the train I followed the directions that I hand wrote on a sticky note when they offered me the job over the phone. The letters were so scrunched together I couldn’t read my own writing and I didn’t think I would ever find the building. What an idiot! Why didn’t I just write that shit down on a yellow pad? Ughh.
After wandering in a panic, comparing what I could read to the words on every building I passed, I found the building and sprinted through the lobby to the elevator (after checking in with Security) and made it to the office reception area 2 minutes before the class began. If you are reading this and haven’t made the connection about why I didn’t just check “Google Maps” to find my way, this was before everyone carried a cell phone and that was really far out of my budget. When I got on BART, I had just over an hour to spare beyond the recommended ETA. Good thing I knew myself well enough to know that I might get lost and gave myself plenty of time. I was self sufficient and comfortable navigating strange places but anyone can get lost in San Francisco at least once.
The office was magnificent compared to anywhere I’d ever worked. the walls were the brightest shade of white I had ever seen which stood out because most of the office was filled with bright orange furniture and clear glass walls to divide meeting spaces so you could see multiple rooms from one place. It looked bright, modern and to me, it was kinda fancy. It was a skin care/cosmetics company so there was a large area just outside the reception desk where the perfumes and eyes shadows and blushes were displayed on crystal clear glass, hanging on walls backed with mirrors. The lighting was bright and appealing to the eye. I felt wow’d by the presentation of the product line. I had never heard of it before but I was a makeup junkie at the time and excited to try it.
The corporation was based in Lima, Peru and they were expanding into the United States. They get an A+ for presentation, product line, salary, benefits package and bonus structure. They get a big fat F when it came to understanding the American consumer and culture which is really too bad because there was so much potential there. They hired a team of really great people. We all had different backgrounds and outgoing personalities but I think we shared a common feeling of insecurity about what they expected of us. We were all young people who accepted this position with the hope of expanding our sales career and we soon learned we were being paid to recruit people to sell rather than selling the product ourselves. Sounds easy, right? Not exactly
If you have followed my story you know that I did not back down from challenges and took pride in my work which had advanced my previous career. When I was a teenager I sold perfume door to door in San Francisco. I was not afraid of cold calls but this was the first time I accepted a job and realized afterwards that the circumstances were bittersweet.
Pros: Salary, medical and dental benefits with a low out of pocket expense, company cell phone, company laptop, and free or deeply discounted skincare and cosmetics. Most of all, the job provided brand new 2005 VW Jetta which I drove off the lot with 6 miles on it. It was fully loaded, dark gun metal grey. It was the nicest car I had ever driven. It came with a fuel card for business miles and authorization to use it for personal use within a reasonable mileage limitation for the year. Maintenance, fuel and insurance were covered! This meant I could park my personal vehicle and save myself the expense of driving my personal car as long as I paid for my personal fuel in the Jetta which had much lower mileage and was WAY nicer than my little used Kia Sportage, base model. I think it was a 2001. When I left Nestle I pulled the money out of my 401K and paid off the loan on my Kia so I would not be in a bind if my new job didn’t work. This job saved me a huge expense and paid me well at the same time. I parked my car!
Cons: Sales goals were based on recruiting other people to sell the product. They expected us to walk into public businesses in the middle of the day and talk to women about our product line. They wanted us to schedule a time to meet with them outside of work to discuss this income opportunity to sell the product. They did not understand that small business owners and corporations do not typically appreciate solicitors, especially solicitors who intend to recruit their employees. These employees were on the clock on someone else’s payroll and they wanted me to walk in and sell this person on giving me 5-7 minutes of their time to talk about an opportunity to sell skincare. I knew I was doomed.
It had to work, though. I was going to be good at this job and earn this great salary with benefits. I had a grown man to feed and support. I forgot to mention him in my previous blog but it’s easy to overlook someone who was an emotional and financial sponge for nearly 5 years of my life.
I met him about 2 years before this job transition. I consider this the time of my life when I was the “dumb girl.” I think most of us have been there at least once, right ladies? I was really far from dumb when it came to the important things in life like growing my career and paying bills but I was dumb when it came to men. I know I’m comfortable in my own skin today because I can say with a smile, “I was such a dumb girl at that time” and feel good about not being that girl anymore.
I was 27 when I met him and had only been in one relationship prior with my first mistake who was a 47 year old man. I was 21. I was a REALLY dumb girl then. That 1st guy cheated on me and hit me all in the same day. I was smart enough to leave immediately, though. I left and remained single and self sufficient until I met the 2nd guy at age 27.
I mentioned in my previous post, Red Beer and Ice Cream that I chatted on the internet before chatting was something people admitted to. I didn’t give a shit what anyone thought and I chatted with people all over the US. My friends were all in relationships, getting married and having babies. I was single and my life was different. When I met him we lived about 40 minutes apart. We met closer to his house for pizza and bonded over our mutual love of music, especially 80’s rock which we both grew up listening to. He grew up in the Philippines so it was fascinating to learn about his life and realize we had common interests for such different people. When I met him I had been a part of “FA” for about 4 months prior which is “Food Addicts Anonymous.” My diet was so strict and it was impossible to feel like a normal human being and enjoy my date so I threw my FA commitment out the window for a salad and a bread stick which turned into 2 slices of pepperoni pizza. I don’t think I ever got back on track after that. I had lost 80lbs on the program and gained 120lbs the year I quit. I had officially failed every commercial and non commercial diet in the world (from my perspective) and I felt powerless.
Mr. Wonderful came into my life and gave me attention and made me laugh. He played guitar and drums and we liked the same music. For me at the time, it was magic. He started coming to my apartment 5-6 nights a week and staying over. He never went home. That would have been fine except I had a long time room mate and the situation was not fair to her. We had a few difficult discussions and decided to end our lease when my relationship got more serious. Her and I are still friends today and we handled everything the best way we could but I do regret allowing him to invade our arrangement. She was the best room mate I ever had and he was not worth losing her.
When her and I gave up our condo I moved into my moms for a few months to save money for a deposit on my own apartment. The dude followed me from my apartment to my moms house. The trend was the same, he stayed every night and didn’t contribute. He had his own apartment which he never went to and he lived in my bedroom. He didn’t talk to anyone unless he had to. It was uncomfortable for everyone and if you go back to my beginning you’ll understand why living at my moms was a personal hell for me. I won’t re-hash it here. I just needed it to be a temporary situation and it was. I saved all my pennies that didn’t go to his fast food habit.
I rented my apartment in San Leandro, CA and the boy followed me there too. He commuted to a job every day that was about 20 minutes away where he re-furbished wireless equipment for guitars. His customers were famous guitar players and the one perk of our relationship is the long list of bands I’ve seen live, backstage and the wealth of musicians I’ve had an opportunity to meet. He refurbished their equipment then made arrangements to deliver it to their shows at Shoreline Ampitheater, Concord Pavilion, Arco Arena, Bill Graham Convention Center and the Oakland Coliseum. There were many small venues too. I have no idea if the stadiums have the same names today but I’ve seen some pretty amazing concerts throughout Northern California from the stage or front row and I’m grateful for that. Music is my medicine.
He drove a 1992 Geo Metro that his mom gave him. I never met his mom and he claimed they were estranged but apparently she gave him her car and she lived not too far away in Richmond. Not sure what the real story is because after many years I’ve realized he was a fraud and everything he told me about his life was a lie. It’s not worth my energy to decipher the truth. He lived at my house and never offered one cent for rent, utilities or food. I was going to have those expenses with or without him so being successful at my job was important. I always paid my way and kept a roof over my head so that wasn’t going to change because he slept in my bed at night. What the hell was wrong with me that I didn’t have enough self worth to ask him what his plans were or ask for his contribution? I allowed him to use me.
I purchased a cell phone and gave it to him. He wrecked his clunky Geo Metro on southbound 880 the way home from seeing a girl. I found this out later when I learned he was cheating (Now, I’m 2 for 2 on cheaters) with a girl that lived in San Francisco. Of course he called me on the cell phone I paid for to come rescue him. I rescued him and saw his car in pieces on the freeway as I passed on the opposite side of the accident. His car was totaled and he never made an effort to replace it because I had a perfectly good running Kia Sportage sitting in my carport that was paid for. I paid the insurance too so he took it as a free pass to use it as his daily driver. No, he never paid the insurance premiums. I continued to allow it and the tension within me built. I was being used and I knew it. I alienated myself from most of my friends because my new apartment was 25 minutes away from where I lived before and he was anti social and didn’t like anyone. I felt stuck in the middle because they didn’t like him very much either. I had done this to myself and I felt stuck. I put on a happy face but the truth is I was stuck in my own self inflicted hell. Stuck in a hell I created for myself but compromising for a man who wasn’t man enough to pitch in for rent or groceries. I was too embarrassed to admit the truth to anyone because that would be admitting to another person how stupid I was. What the fuck, Kelly? What the fuck?
I got up every day and followed the business model the corporation set for me. I made cold calls to businesses and got cussed out and thrown out. No one wanted to talk to me or get in trouble with their boss for smelling perfume or trying on lotion at their desk. It didn’t matter how professional or kind or accommodating I was, I could not recruit enough people to make this crazy goal and quite frankly I didn’t want to. I decided to bring in the revenue in a different way. I knew I wasn’t going to drive revenue when the people I approached were annoyed by my presence.
I decided I was going to sell the product and show them what DOES work. After all, my career experience taught me that when something isn’t working it is impossible to get it done a different way if you consider multiple approaches.
I had a makeup party with my friends. We tried on all the makeup and rated the eye shadow pigments and chose our favorite lipstick shades. We tried the face scrubs and anti aging creams. I got a feel for what everyone liked and disliked and at that party alone I sold about $600 worth of product. There were a few ladies that liked it enough to help me out and sign up so they could get the discount on the makeup they personally liked. This is how I recruited for the most part and I was always able to grow my team by a few people every month but not anyone who was going to sell enough to meet my revenue goals. So, I sold the shit out of the makeup. I was coming within 90% of my goal consistently and sometimes actually met it. This was the way! I was bringing in the revenue expected of me, managing the few people I had recruited and putting the pieces together to meet my goals. Awesome, right? No, not so awesome.
I was in fact generating revenue and meeting goals but since the money was not coming in through the exact business model they planned, they started withholding my bonus pay for not meeting the recruiting portion of the goal even though the revenue was there. I put my “solution hat” on and scheduled meetings with the Regional Sales Manager and gave specific incidents of being threatened and thrown out of places. I explained my approach to bringing in actual revenue and proved it was working with tangible evidence. She did not want to hear it. She wanted me to convince total strangers to invite me into their home so I could do a presentation to ask them to sell my skincare line for me.
I wasn’t going to win. Everyone I was hired with was getting terminated on a monthly basis. There were 10 of us to start and within a year they let everyone go. On my last day they terminated me and the other person left standing from our original team. They recruited a few rounds of people after that and they all failed too. They did not listen to us when we explained how they could be successful. They fired us. As far as I know, they closed that gorgeous office and no longer do business in the US. Actually, you can buy their makeup on Amazon. Imagine, that, they are now selling their products directly to the American Consumer. What a concept. I wish I would have thought of that, lol.
This is the part of my life where being a dumb girl kicked my ass. This is the part of my life where I learned that money rules the world, sometimes even in friendships you thought were unbreakable. This is year where adulthood started to become unmanageable to me. This is when I learned that you can be completely alone and still be with somebody else. If you ask me to use one word to describe where I was in 2006, I would say, “Desperate.” What’s the saying, desperate people do desperate things? That was me. I blurred the lines between taking on a challenge and setting myself up for failure for the next few years.
About 4 months before I was terminated I found out the guy sleeping in my bed was also sleeping, or not sleeping in someone else’s bed. The douche bag used my computer, my dial up internet and the cell phone I paid for to chat up chicks online and cheat. He drove my car on a daily basis which meant that’s how he was meeting these girls! He missed work and disappeared at times so my suspicions were high. One night I noticed the letters of his email password as he typed it in secretly on MY computer. I logged in the following day to see what he was hiding and it revealed what I suspected, he was lying and cheating. I confronted him. He convinced me he was sorry. He begged me to forgive him and I did. But… what the hell was wrong with me that I did not insist on financial contribution and a change in our relationship after he cheated? Dumb, dumb girl.
I blamed myself and beat myself up. I went back to feeling like that little girl in my dad’s house who wasn’t enough. I reverted to being punished as a kid for opening mail that was sent to “his” house because even though it was for me it had his name on it so it didn’t belong to me without his permission. I remember him drilling into to my head that I was not allowed to ask about other peoples private matters or check other peoples mail. Those lessons burned into my head and I turned myself into a loser for invading his privacy and checking his email. This made forgiveness easy because I was wrong. See how that works? When you don’t feel confident about yourself or when someone beats down you down during the developmental years of your life, even a strong person can be torn down by a harmful narcissist. I blamed myself and found a way to trust him again. Well, I convinced myself anyway. We continued to date and had a short honeymoon phase after the cheating blowout.
The honeymoon ended when he informed me that he no longer liked his job so he quit. His plan was to be an on call guitar tech for a local band which paid less than one trip to the grocery store. He already was not contributing at all so I was unsure how he thought he was going to pay for his own deodorant and fuel. He was driving my car for free but I could not afford to support him and put gas in the car for him. This guitar tech gig also meant traveling all over the bay area which meant wear and tear on my Kia. Guess who was paying for oil changes and tires? Yes, it was this girl.
He quit and did this guitar tech gig and did not listen to my concerns. I think he thought I would always have a company car and a steady income. Then, I got fired. I had to turn in the new car and that meant he had to give my car back. He was angry. I was angry too when I got in it and saw the way he treated it for the 7 months he drove it. My seats were stained, there were drips from drinks in the cup holder running down the face of my stereo, the dust was so thick it was like mud when I went to clean it. It had trash in it and worst of all, it smelled like stinky fucking socks. So, I have been dating this charmer for about 3 years and the only thing he’s contributed to our relationship was the free backstage passes he could score at work and a laptop that I wasn’t allowed to touch (not kidding.) I provided for him entirely and this is how he repaid me.
I was angry. I was sad. I felt worthless and I realized deep down inside that the reason I had allowed him to treat me this way was because of the way I felt about myself. I was 380lbs and the painful truth is that I think I believed he was the best I could do. I was confident in my professional and social circles but as a woman and in my relationships with men I felt inferior and allowed myself to be used. I could only order clothes on the internet for the most part and I could barely tie my own shoes. I woke up one morning in February 2006 and found it difficult to get out of bed. I remember opening my eyes, stretching my arms and having the overwhelming feeling that I have every morning… like I had to pee. The thing is, this day, I could not physically rollover without extra effort. It was like there was dead weight at the center of my body making it impossible to turn to my side. It felt hard to breathe or swallow when I laid flat on my back. I slept with a CPAP machine for severe sleep apnea and my supportive partner affectionately referred to me as “Maverick” because the mask reminded him of the fighter pilot mask from “Top Gun.” I have a super awesome sense of humor so I could belly laugh at his jokes but wearing that mask made me self conscious and made it difficult to participate in social events that involved overnight stays and sharing hotels. I was obese my whole life which means I learned to laugh at fat jokes people made about me. It’s a survival skill and I’ve adapted well.
Cabbage soup diet, steak diet, South Beach Diet, Atkins diet, Eat this Not That, Food Addicts Anonymous, Nutri Systems, Curves, Jazzercize, Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, the “Stop the insanity” infomercial diet, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers. I tried them all. I went from chubby to gigantic. With every successful 30-40 pound loss, I would get off track and gain 50-60 back. I walked by a donut shop and my ass got bigger. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I went from feeling proud of myself for extreme weight loss to being ashamed of myself for gaining it back. I told myself people didn’t notice either way. They did. I had relatives pushing me to have weight loss surgery and relatives begging me not to. I had people telling me to eat salad or take a walk. I am going to tell all you people something who’ve lost 25lbs and think you’ve got the weight loss thing dialed… your advice and protein shakes don’t work for everyone. If you have a few vanity pounds because you ate too much rum cake at Christmas, don’t talk to an obese person about your struggle. That’s like telling a homeless person you are hungry. I’ve lost 80 pounds, twice, 60 pounds once, 120 pounds twice and lots of tries in the 20-40 pound range. I am a professional at losing weight and could teach you a thing or two. The battle isn’t about how many cupcakes I eat or how many calories I burn. Obesity runs very, very deep and far beyond the surface that you see which is only the result of my inner torment. To treat obesity, you have to understand it. If a few too many bites of rum cake during the last 3 months of the year is your demon, please know you are fortunate in your weight loss woes.
At that time, I was defeated and tired of everyone’s advice and concerns about my health. I was concerned enough about myself. I don’t think anyone to this day knows how terrified I was for my own life. I decided to open my options to having a full roux-en-y gastric bypass which I had adamantly refused until then. When you wake up at 29 years old and you can’t move, breathe or sleep without assistance, it is time to make a decision. I was scared but fear never stopped me before. I knew I was going to be terminated from my job in the coming months so I consulted with my doctor ahead of time to make plans for this major decision in my life. After psychiatric evaluations, nutrition counseling, several consultations, losing an acceptable amount of weight beforehand to be approved and getting over the fear of my surgeon who had the most stern bedside manner I’d ever experienced, I had gastric bypass surgery in September of 2006. My weight topped out at 387lbs. The surgery dropped my weight to 170lbs within a year. That’s right, I lost 217 pounds in just over a year and I was the model patient with no side effects for nearly 10 years (now, I have side effects 12 years later). I’ve had my share of ups and downs since then (literally) but today I am 155 pounds and wear a size 8. That means I am 232 pounds lighter today than I was in 2006. What hasn’t changed is the person I was at my core before I laid on the operating table. I’m just not that dumb girl anymore. I’m 232 pounds lighter because I’ve found the strength to face the truth behind the emotional baggage that was attached to it. I had surgery in 2006 and that gave me a boost but it took me 11 years to figure out that every excess pound was attached to a deep seeded pain within myself. Every bite of a cupcake brought me comfort when I was hurting too badly to find comfort anywhere else. Facing all that pain changed my attitude about food and actually diminished my need for the comfort I found with cupcakes. My appetite has changed drastically to craving food out of hunger and not sadness. Except when I’m high. Bong hits make me hungry. The moment I realized this is the moment my weight loss struggle changed but that wasn’t until last year. What took me so long?
In 2006, The physical transition was just the beginning. I had the surgery just after I lost my job and had the recovery time to collect disability but after that I had to rely on unemployment and wasn’t a fan of living that way for long so I started making plans for the next big change which took me back to Washington to run a night club and Italian restaurant. That turned to catastrophe so instead, I ended up putting on a “Great White” (You know, “My my my, I’m once bitten twice shy, babe.”) concert in the middle of nowhere at an off road raceway. Life… it’s such an unpredictable ride.
Just now joining me? You can read my story from the beginning: When a Ginger Snaps