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Chris Jepson

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Chris Jepson

Columnist Chris Jepson

I've been working on a novel (isn't everyone?) and was recently asked some particulars about the plot and characters. I offered that one character was going to represent my viewpoint entirely and I summed-up his predicament (in the book) as one of compromise, of being a cheap whore.

Ah, what one does for money. I'm reminded of the joke about the gentlemen crying at the bar and being asked what grieved him so? He went on and on and with tears streaming down his cheeks and in between sobs exclaimed, "They met my price." Oh, lordy, I hate it when that happens.

I remember once, decades ago, I was reduced to selling road service for a gasoline credit card. I worked in a large room with perhaps 100 other telemarketers. You were to be on the phone at the stroke of the clock and you worked off a canned speech that the "bosses" wanted you to recite verbatim. They'd listen in on your presentation and then pimp you on your performance. I quickly tossed the presentation, actually listened to the person on the other end of the phone and was within hours surpassing established sales "goals."

I chap at supervision and I do not like cookie-cutter approaches to problems or objectives. I have to give credit to the phone room managers though; they left me alone. They had to, I was making book times seven.

I'd walk in minutes late (to the glare of ze bosses) and yell across the packed phone room, "Push Approvals! Push Approvals!" All my colleagues would knowingly laugh because that was absolutely verboten! In telemarketing, you want the sale then and there, with no time later to think about it and cancel the order. I'd chat with my fellow workers between calls, again to the frown of ze bosses! Pick up the phone, make the next call. Sometimes I simply wouldn't. I did this work for a month, maybe six weeks. It's hard. It's grueling. It's what you do when you "really" need money. It's one of those life experiences that opens your eyes to how hard some people work for so little.

I left just as I was being offered a "big" promotion. I was going to fundraise for a church outreach program. It was a new test marketing promotion for this particular telemarketing company. And management particularly liked my "chat 'em up" abilities. In hindsight, I wish I had been on the phones for a few days hawking this form of salvation. It would be fodder for my book. I've a feeling it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

I've had subsequent work that wasn't nearly so "rewarding" as my telemarketing experience. And that is where the concept of being "a cheap whore" enters in.

"Some" of us have at sometime in their lives performed work that, regardless of how remunerative the financial incentive, has, after time, reduced us to being little more than cheap whores for money.

Yet, a cheap whore in this economy is infinitely better than not being a working whore at all.

And that is exactly where my character finds himself. Ah, life.

A glass of lemonade, perhaps?