The winner is the year I spent working for Color Tile in 1985. For those who don't know or don't remember, Color Tile was (is?) a retail chain that sold all types of flooring, ceramic tiles and carpet to both contractors and the general public. Employees were also trained in helping customers install the items they purchased. It was a large chain that was flourishing at the time, with three stores in Greensboro, NC. When I was first hired I was very excited. I would be a salesman, making both a hourly wage and commissions. Given my communication skills and sunny personality I was certain to be successful in sales. Right?
Circumstances never really game me chance to find out if that personal assessment was accurate. The Color Tile that hired me was located just outside the Carolina Circle Mall. That mall was known for 3 defining characteristics in those days. It was the new mall in the area with some trendy stores. It had an indoor ice skating rink, which was a big deal in Greensboro in the early 80s. And it was situated in a rough part of town that had a constant, powerful and distinct sewer smell lingering over the surrounding area. It was awful. As soon as you stepped out of your car it became difficult to breathe. Needless to say, the mall struggled to attract shoppers. And as the mall struggled, Color Tile was often deserted. The best salespeople in the world cannot make sales if they have no customers. To make matters worse, even though this was a shirt and tie kind of position, several days a week were spent unloading the trucks that arrived with new product. I remember well the joy of awaiting our rare customers while wandering a store - in a tie- soaking wet with sweat. Because business was so bad, the manager would often schedule only one person to close the store each night. In that part of town, being alone in any building with a cash register made anyone nervous. The only redeeming characteristic of the job was the paycheck- and even it was kind of pitiful. It was a long. miserable year.
One of the great moments of my life was being offered a position to serve New England Yearly Meeting of Friends as their Youth & Education Director in late 1985. Moving to Massachusetts to escape Color Tile didn't seem unreasonable. And to complete my end of the year renaissance, I proposed to Marilyn in December just before heading north. None of that changes the fact that my worst job was the year I pent selling DIY home improvement products to invisible customers. I'd love to hear about yours. Have a great weekend!