London, United Kingdom
I was approached one day (I like to think of it as being head hunted ;)) whilst chugging about a job going as a promotions person, good money, cash in hand, so after I handed in my notice so to speak, I thought, why not. Something different. This is all about the experiences after all.
On arriving at the public house, at about nine pm I was introduced to Sonya*, a twenty something year old from northern Ireland, living in east London and working a 9-5 job in an employment agency. Unfortunately a few years of spending beyond her means meant that she had managed to rack up a considerable credit card debt, so working with pamphlets on weekends was a good way to earn a bit of extra cash to decrease it ever so slightly.
It was rather a miserable London evening, rain aplenty, and Sonya and I made our way to the tube station, armed with brolleys, postcard sized pamphlets in hand. So, the work started.
“Free entry with this card.”
“Two for one entry with this card.”
“Would you like a look at this.”
“Hi there, are you looking for somewhere to go tonight? Free entry?”
Some take it out of politeness or pity, some stop and think that the pamphlet is a free ticket to hit on you, some smile and say no thanks, most ignore you. So you try to think of more creative ways to pull their interest. Or learn to pick your target audience. Old lady with cardigan and Waitrose bag, no, middle aged man in suit, no, twenty something boys in skinny legs “bingo!”
The camaraderie amongst the other pamphlet handerouterers is interesting. Within a few hours, I had met about half a dozen of them, experiencing the life story of one of them, a 31 year old Somali girl who had made promotions a full time job and was in the middle of a painful breakup. Around midnight, Sonya thought it best to start wandering the streets, in order to find the people who are leaving the places closing at midnight and potentially seeking other places to go, so I said a sad farewell to my new friends and called out to Miss Somali “Say strong, don’t go back there, he’s not worth it, remember, it’s called a break up because it’s broken!”
Wandered the now waterlogged streets, looking and feeling little damp ourselves. The rain appeared to be a bit of a deterrent, the streets were mostly quiet. A call from the boss sounded a bit on the urgent side, “It’s dead guys, we need you two to drum up some custom!!” Kept wandering, found a few more people, mostly dead though and soon enough, it was 3am, time for shift over and to get into the dry, woo hoo!
Wandering those wet streets, feebly handing out the odd soggy postcard to mostly disinterested fellow waterlogged meanderers, polluted london rain seeping through the holes in my volleys to my socks, I kinda had the revelation that this job wasn’t so much for me because of two main reasons – bit of cognitive dissonance if you will. (A) I never say yes to pamphlets because I do rather passionately believe that they’re a waste of paper and therefore trees and (b) I’m not really a huge fan of nightclubs to be fair; something rather surreal I suppose about trying to convince people to go into a place that I feel can be at times unhelpful and unhealthy.
The night did go fairly quickly to be fair, so it wasn’t too long before it was time to go back to the bar; I recognised several people, which was nice, had forty quid subtly slipped into my pocket by the boss and with that, I was more than happy to make my way to my bed, and said goodbye to my new friend Sonya, whose night of promotions had only just begun.
*Name changed to ensure confidentiality