I started working for Simon-Levi Liquor Distributors in late
1986, the year I turned 30. I became aware of this job because
they had supplied my dad when he was in the restaurant
business all those years ago. I had filled out an application, and
had been hoping to hear from them for some time.
I was a liquor salesman\merchandiser. It wasn't hard sell at all,
I serviced existing accounts at bars, restaurants, liquor stores,
and even in supermarkets (in Southern California, most of the
supermarkets sell hard liquor...not just beer and wine).
Restaurants and bars were pretty easy, normally I would arrive
at each account on the same day of the week at about the same
time, and they would be expecting me, and have the order all
ready to take.
At the markets and liquor stores, it was a little more work, as
I had to try to promote special brands, and try to 'bump' up
their order. But after some of the cold-call, hard-sell
commission-only jobs I had done, it was a relief to be doing
And the best part was, I didn't have to handle the merchandise.
I took the orders, and the liquor was delivered at a later date.
Sometimes at a supermarket if it was a really big order, I would
help them set up a display. You may have seen those big fancy
stacks they build at markets, where they promote the Super Bowl,
or NASCAR, with bottles of beer or liquor all artfully arranged
in boxes. But that was it.
All in all, this was a great job, the pay was fair if not
outstanding, and I was pretty happy doing it. For the first time
in my life, I had a job that did not give me nausea when I thought
about having to go to work! This was the first time I had ever
had a job that made me feel like a real human being...where
when you are meeting someone new, and they ask you what you
do for a living, I did not have to evade the subject.
In fact, I still had this job in early 1988 when I first met
my future bride. Of course, now that I know my bride so well,
I can understand that she is not so shallow that what I did
for a living would affect her feelings for me, but it sure
didn't hurt that I had held the same job for two years!
So in the summer of 1988, we got married, I turned 32 a few
days later, and as we settled down to live in her apartment
in Santa Monica, I began to hear the hellish rumors of a
layoff due to the company going out of business!
Apparently, we were losing lots of our name-brand liquors to
the competition. For example, while we used to handle Bacardi
Rum, Chivas Regal Scotch, and Korbel Champagne, we were
now being relegated to brands like Sheep's Head Scotch...
After the layoff, I was hired briefly with another distributor
outfit called Bohemian, but they dealt only in wine. I was
not as happy there, and just before we moved to the high
desert in Palmdale, California, we learned from my
mother-in-law that the company she worked for was hiring.
Peace be with you.