this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on May 7, 2002.

I am 27, and out of work. In my most recent job I lasted three days and a half, and I was working on installment. More precisely, I went to work on 3.5 separate days, then quit.

I think I got away with my irregular attendance only because I was in sales, and because among the new sales executives, it was I who had the two most promising prospects. Charm, I believe, did the rest, with regard to my boss.

I quit when I realized that my boss had nothing better in his mind for me than to make a quick buck from my efforts. For one thing, the way he said that sales executives must sell at least two vehicles a month, you would think I had the supernatural ability to make anyone cough up over P1 million just to buy our cars.

Although I am a writer by profession, I took the job, wanting to try out sales, lured by the promise of a five-digit income. The ad said I could earn anywhere between P30,000 and P50,000 a month. After having held jobs that paid just a few hundreds over the four-digit mark, I figured I should go for it.

What the ad did not say was that the P30,000 or more would be the commission, after one met the monthly quota. In the meantime, management expected me to stretch a measly P6,000 allowance, until it snapped or I snapped, whichever came first. I thought that with so little to live on, Mommy and I would soon be stretched out cold, before I could sell even just one car.

Because selling cars-German cars-is no laughing matter, I expected management to train us well before they let us go out hunting for clients. I thought we would have at least a month of training-memorizing specs, knowing the smell of the interior, describing the vroom of the engine-but I was wrong. On my first day, I didn’t see the flow charts, the PowerPoint presentation, the big screen demo I was expecting. Instead I met another fresh recruit waiting to give me a tour of the company’s facilities.

The tour turned out to be a babble of talk about three models of our brand, about V6 engines, twin-turbo intercoolers, and what have you. Apparently, Mr. Senior Sales Executive thought it wise for my fellow neophyte to practice his sales pitch on me. Or maybe, Mr. SSE was just too lazy to teach me the same things all over again. Naturally, I was absent when he himself toured the two other new recruits the day before.

Being neither a driver nor a car enthusiast, it took three re-runs before I figured out what the buttons on the automatic key were for. Before this, I tried to ask for help from the seasoned sales executives, but they all said the same thing: “Don’t worry, you’ll eventually understand the specs, in time.”

Since I was new on the job, my boss said he would go with me to meet my big-shot prospects. I didn’t want that. I wanted to do the presentation myself. Besides I wanted to spare them the experience of hearing my boss’ menacing, overeager sales approach.

Similar unhappy incidents happened until the day I quit. That was on the day my boss failed to understand why I needed a primer on basic auto mechanics. I went to see him that afternoon, asking if he could lend me materials that would help me understand how the damn machines worked. I had seen some illustrations in the Internet defining the functions of each auto part and I found them useful. I was hoping I could borrow the same sort of materials from my boss. Unknown to him, I really wanted to make a difference in my job, and rise above my entry image as another moneymaker for the company.

But when he smiled to comply with my request, it hit me. There, reflected in his eyes, was me the potential moneymaker, and not the employee who could make a difference. As far as I could tell from the reflection, I was doomed to keeping my entry-level image until I sold 100 cars that same month.

The last straw was when he completely missed my point. Instead of giving me the basics I had asked for, he instructed his assistant to have the car specs printed out from our company’s Website.

“Huh?” I muttered to myself. “I already have those.” The next day, I resigned.

I have yet to regret my decision to this day, despite my unemployed state and the financial loss. I feel a great sense of peace, knowing that with in such an unsupportive professional environment, I would have resigned at some other time anyway.

I’m still looking for a job where I will be working with someone I will be proud to call my boss, someone who fits the description John Maxwell gave of a true leader:

“The boss drives his workers; the leader coaches them. The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how. The boss says go, the leader says let’s go!”

I know I will find him very soon. I just know.

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