It’s hot and raining now in New York, about an hour before I’m going to work. Last night was the first of many on the fire escape this season. Monday’s are the best fore getting all of this stuff out. The fact that it’s raining outside and I can hear the car go by on that wet concrete makes this all the more enjoyable. As I said, these are the good times. Now, when I think about going to work and selling what I now sell, to think about the interview I went on that day just blows my mind. I’ll have to keep that thought to stay sane through this week.
The man’s office was down in the Marina district, a place where thoughts of vampires and other such rock n’ roll type of behavior for some reason just didn’t exist. The Marina is where the normal people lived. I was happy to go down there and thought that by working around some sense of stability that it might rub off on me. The office was on the second floor of a bulding that looked like that last dollhouse left of the shelf.
The man who interviewed me was a tall, sporting a heavy mustache and a regular haircut. I could see in the room in back of him a few people o the phone. They looked happy enough. I guess that’s the key for interviews – to take a look at the people working there and see how they’re feeling.
“So, you’re probably wondering what it is I want you to sell,” he said to me, smiling and looking at me but a little more over my head than anything else. “Can you guess?”
“I really have no idea,” I told him, not in the mood for games, only for a job.
“Well, this is me,” he said, handing me a 8 x 10 glossy photo. “You think you can sell this?”
The picture was him dressed up like a hobo carrying a broom and wearing a semi ripped jacked and a faded top hat.
“Um, what is it exactly,” I asked.
“I’m a chimney sweep. I put on this outfit, drive out to people’s houses, and clean out their chimneys. It’s an old art – I’m pretty good at it. The folks they all get a kick out of it – seeing me drive up and come out of the van in the outfit. The kids, they get a real hoot out of it. The woman like a man in uniform as well. What I need are people to reach out to this least of people with Chimneys in the area and ask if they are in need of my services. Pretty simple actually. I give you 5 dollars an hour for sitting here making the call and 20 dollars for each appointment you book. No reason why you can’t be making at least 100 dollars a day here. Well, a night actually. What da ya say?”
I looked at him, then back at the picture, then at him again – I thought about the money and how that could really help in planning my escape from the vampires and prostitutes. The combination of all of that mixed up right and my brain got convinced that this was a great way to make money. After all, how many people did this anymore? Yes, this would be my normal job: I’d book appointments for a man to go clean people’s chimneys.
So, I started that night. Looking back now, I don’t think I filled out any paper work. The man promised me he’d pay me in cash. He did hand me a folder with some press clippings of himself and a few articles that had been written about him.
“I pay at the end of the month. Just an envelope of cash,” he said. “If that works for you, then you should get on that phone and start working for me.”
There was 3 other people there that he gave the same speech to but they all left. I guess they weren’t in the middle of planning an escape or didn’t buy what this guy was doing. I got on the phone right away and started selling Chimney sweeps.
The first thing you need to know if you are going to sell Chimney Sweeps is creosote. Creosote are flammable wood chips that build up in your chimney that can catch fire and burn your house down. Well, that’s he told me anyway, and that’s the fear I sold. It was not that hard of a sell actually – if you had a fireplace, and you were home and someone called you telling you that if you didn’t clean it out before the next time you snuggled up to your fire the whole house could go up in flames, you’d at least listen.
I started out great – selling 3 appoints a night – which if you added to my 5 bucks an hour, would be getting me 80 dollars in cash a day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month. That’s two grand in a month in cash, which at that time was still tons of money to me. I’d be able to escape in a month. Until then, I’d lay as low as I could at the house, stay out until the late nights with my friends getting into madness around the city, and work for this man in the normal place in town selling Chimney sweeps.
It was a grand plan, and one that, when I left work that evening, keep the coolness of the fog from spoiling my mood.
Things were good.