**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
I once worked at a place where family portraits were taken. It was a seasonal job that I was able to secure for the holiday season.
This was my first time working in a place like this and all I really understood about it was that families would come in, get their pictures taken, and then they would be sent over to me to go over the package prices and finalize the transaction.
Easy enough, right?
Turns out, not so much.
At 20 years old I was still a bit of an introvert. Soft-spoken and non-aggressive. Nervous talking out loud to strangers and easy to get embarrassed by confrontation.
It turns out, the job of finishing up portrait packaging prices was not the type of role a shy person should take. I learned this the hard way during my first week. The manager threw me into the fire during a busy rush and I wish I could say that I thrived.
The first family that came my way was a harassed-looking mom with three boys. They were all dressed up in their fancy attire and the kids were suitably miserable being forced to stay in one place and pose. I could tell on the mother's face that I was the last person she wanted to see.
The frazzled four plopped down at my station and I brought up their pictures on the screen, as I had been instructed to do and I nervously began to go over the package options for their family photos.
The mom cut me off almost instantly.
"We're not paying for anything extra. I already know what I want, and it's right here on the coupon so don't try and sell me anything else." She snapped.
I could feel the hot blush of my embarrassment. The mom was staring at me with the intensity of a hungry tiger who had not eaten in quite some time. Her children were getting rambunctious and she was obviously ready to get out of there. Now, many years later and being a parent myself, I can look back and understand this woman's desperation. Whatever sliver of patience she had when she entered was long gone.
"Okay. Sure, let's get you checked out then," I said, terrified to challenge this mom further with any sort of sales pitch.
I checked them out awkwardly, messing up the transaction at the cash register, of course. I was mortified and I could feel the eyes of my manager glaring through me.
After the family left, my manager came over to me. I cringed.
"So, when you get the customer at your station, your job is to try and sell them on an upgraded package," She said.
"I know, but she absolutely did not want to buy anything more than she had planned to pay," I said, growing frustrated.
"Well, you're going to get a lot of people who don't want to pay more, but your role is to convince them to get a more expensive package," my manager replied.
I felt sick and defeated. How do you force someone to buy more things when they're deadset on only spending a certain amount of money? On top of that, how do you overcome the dilemma of a frazzled and fed-up mom who just wants to get her holiday photos done and get out of there?
Ultimately, I was not the person for that kind of job. The same scenarios kept happening throughout the rest of the week. More families came in with coupons and there were many more moms who were not interested in entertaining my sales pitch about upgrading their photo package. I tried to be a bit more aggressive but was rarely successful. My heart wasn't in it. I couldn't try and make people spend more money that they probably didn't have.
Two painful weeks later, I was told that I was not a good fit for the job. I felt like a failure but I was also relieved to be done with it. If being a good salesperson meant trying to force people to make decisions they didn't want to make, I was okay with never doing that kind of job again.
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