At the beginning of 1985, I answered an ad in the newspaper
for a position in 'direct sales of steak and seafood products
to the general public'. It sounded intriguing, so I decided
to take a look at it.
We were to load up a van with steak, bacon, and seafood, and
take to the road and try to find random people to buy it from
us. The meat was stored in a large freezer that was inside
This was to be one of most stressful, challenging, and interesting
jobs I have ever done. There was the potential to make quite
a bit of money, but to do so you had to be 'on' all the time,
much like other sales jobs.
You may have been 'pitched' a sale like this yourself. We took
the van out to residential neighborhoods, and basically just
asked everyone we saw if they wanted to buy some steak. Now,
like most sales jobs, there was a gimmick...you had to make up
some kind of story that explains why you are selling it this way,
and convince them that normally you sell from a regular store.
Sometimes I went out on my own, and sometimes we went out in
pairs. We would cruise slowly up and down residential streets,
and every person we saw, whether they were walking the dog,
going out to the mailbox, or watering the lawn...we were required
to yell out to them..."Hey, you want some steak? Do you like
Mostly they would say No, not interested, or ignore you, flip you
off, or politely decline. Once in a while they would allow you to
stop, open up the freezer, and show them the wares.
Now, our stuff WAS quality stuff, it came from a reputable packing
house, and although it was not really very cheap, it was good
quality. The biggest problem was how to go about this without
appearing to be a stalker\burglar\shady character\ etc.
I am very surprised that as long as I did this...almost a whole
year...I never had the cops called on me.
How much did we make? I remember I worked every single day
during the summer of 1985, seven days a week, and I had to in
order to play the odds. Some days I made almost nothing, some
days I made a hundred bucks, in very rare good luck days, I would
make a lot more. Over-all, though, it turned out that I made a
wage good enough to pay my rent, eat pretty well, and buy gasoline.
Between about May-August 1985, I didn't take a single day off...
not Saturday, not Sunday, nothing.
Now, the problem with this was, we quickly ran out of 'fresh'
territory. There were a small fleet of vans operating out of
the main office, and we initially all tried to work close to home...
Orange County, California. This stopped working once all our
potential customers had already seen all of us before. I was one
of the first ones to break out and expand my horizons.
During that long summer, I drove all over Southern California,
and when I was by myself, I always had my camera with me.
Here I am at age 29, in front of my van, and inside the freezer:
And HERE are some of the areas I worked, chasing a dollar:
A street in Beverly Hills, and a very nice home in Burbank:
Interesting trees in Culver City (West LA):
By the Santa Monica airport...how can one 'fly quietly'?
This is Lakewood. I know the picture is very blurry, but
I like it because it shows the massive trees lining the street,
forming a soft cool tunnel. Lakewood was one of my very
favorite areas to work, because there were line after line of
long parallel streets with this inviting greenery. You could
easily spend a whole day here, driving up one street, and then
down the next one. The people that lived here were very nice.
If I was having a good day and sold out, I would knock off early,
and then just drive around taking pictures. This is Dana Point:
Mission Viejo was not conducive to selling meat, but I still
took some photos:
This is Redondo Beach:
As you can imagine, after doing this all summer, and exhausting
all the areas I was willing to drive to, I began to burn out.
Finally, towards the end of summer, when they sent me out with
another individual, if we had a bad morning, we would both end
up at bars and billiard halls drinking and shooting pool.
I had a good run, a very hard but interesting summer, but it was
time to end it. As I sit here today thinking about all this, I
can't believe I went through that. No way could I imagine doing
that kind of work today, but, you know, that was 25 years ago...
Peace be with you.