You are going to die. There’s no getting around that one. When I was a kid working in the meat plant one of the owners told me that if I simply remembered that everyone eats and everyone shits, I would never have to worry about looking for work. He could have also thrown in “everyone dies.”
I remained in the meat business for a large number of years before eventually becoming self employed as a graphic designer/sign painter/whatever the hell I do from time to time kind of person. Things have been good, things have been lousy and they switch back and forth like that every so often. Things have been interesting lately with current economic trends. Lots of tire kickers for sure. I enjoy discussing possibilities with people when they come in but I also tend to get a little tired of sharing enough information with people so that they can go out and shop for similar work with a better understanding of what to look for and ask for. Seems wrong, right? I do the same thing once in a while. Hell, with the internet it is very simple to gather most all of the info you need on something, compare prices and make a decision. When someone like that comes in here for the same thing it actually does consume an amount of my time which is time I should probably be doing something else. It takes my focus away from whatever else I was or should have been doing and makes less efficient use of my time. It also could be the stepping stone to some paid work.
Over time I have seen a lot of people in this industry start out doing one thing and then wind up doing some variation of that thing. An example would be someone who might have had a specialty – like glass gilding – and then went on to travel the industry trade show circuit giving seminars while promoting a supplier. There have been a number of these people that I have known. Some take their know-how and market it themselves in some way. I’m sure this is the case with just about anything.
I’ve never been a real hard sell kind of person. I have relied mostly on the idea that when someone comes in, needs something- I can produce a good design and a good product at a fair price and let that work sell other work. Of course, I am able to talk intelligently and responsibly with people about specific sign/graphics needs and I will try to sway them into more bells and whistles if I can do it or if the job can stand it. Making a “no parking” sign would not require many more bells and no whistles at all, so swaying may not be suitable for every situation.
All of this brings me to today’s obser-rant-vation.
A guy walked into the shop today. Lots of people do, lots are customers or people I know. Lots are people I do not know that will become a customer. Some are sales people. This guy turned out to be a sales person. He was a middle aged gray haired average looking guy, a little over weight. He had a pleasant easy going manner of speech and seemed unrushed. He came in, I said hello and asked him what I could do for him today. He told me that he had been sent here by the embroidery shop up the street and they told him that I could help him with what he needed. Hmm, sounds like a potential customer, so I am interested in continuing the conversation. He asked if I could design graphics. I said I could. He said “great, I have something in my car that I’d like to show you… it’ll take about 10 minutes.”
When he said “it’ll take about 10 minutes” I should have seen the red flag. Lot’s of real customers cart shit around in their car for me to see but have no time frame involved. So, he goes to his car. He fumbles around in there for a minute or so and then comes back in with a very large framed print of some kind. My immediate thought now is “oh fuck, one of these ‘I printed some images of Farve’ guys… would you like to buy it?” But no, even better – or worse.
The frame was probably 3′ x 4′, very ornate. Inside was a print of some dead guy with a lot of smaller images of that dead guy surrounding the main image. On the bottom in very annoying lettering was the name of the dead guy with his birth/death dates. Now we get into the meat of this meeting. Why not… he’s bullshitted his intent for being there so far. He had another framed image and a poster to bring in. These were graduation and sports related.
He’s selling a get rich quick scheme. Maybe not quick but the numbers (of course) looked good. In the end, for doing almost little or nothing I could add about 85,000 dollars per year to my income. Wow. This brings us back to the dead guy and the thought from the beginning that we all die. This framed poster of this dead guy is a collage of images of the guy and some things in his life. The idea here is to sell these through the local funeral home. We have two in town. The funeral home places this example in with their caskets and urns and other funeral related items. This could be part of your death package for only an additional $475.00. The funeral home gets 20%.
Now I have been to one or two or more funerals in my lifetime. I have seen all sorts of collages, stuffed animals, memorable items of that dear departed dead person sprinkled around the funeral parlour or stuffed into a casket. I never thought I could make money off of it, I never even considered it. These guys did. Another super new popular item is their printed panel that they stick right over the dead guy IN the casket. This is stuck to the inside of the open casket, right over the body.
Besides the funeral stuff they had a package for other things like graduation, school sports and such. The school sports item also had a tricky sales gimmick where you get the kid to sell the printed item and then give them 3 bucks for every sale to go to some charity. Sell it to mom, dad, grandparents – shit everyone has relatives you can sucker into buying this stuff. Then, you write the kid a check to the charity – have the paper print a story and picture telling of this kid’s great charitable effort (and you) and it costs you absolutely nothing other than the fuel to run to the bank to make that deposit.
So, what is he selling? Well first, he wants to know if “I am going to be his guy in the area” as if I was working for him or with him or something. What he is selling is a package deal that includes a $1700.00 printer which I can purchase from them at the reasonable (to them) cost of only $3200.00. This will print these cool death pictures for pennies. They include templates designed by barely literate and barely creative graphic designers (this guy, evidently) and cool tips for how to generate income from printing shit for people and telling them why they need more shit – especially in their time of depression when someone bites it. Taking advantage of that one is fucking beautiful. This $12,803.00 value can all be mine for only $7,694.00… with 100% financing.
As I ask more about a few things I discover that this guy was like me, a sign guy. Well, not exactly like me. This is, or was before he started selling dead guy stuff, the kind of sign guy you would see in the mall at holiday time pushing real shitty name plaques. You might see him at a flea market or county fair. They have a plotter and some crappy templates with no creativity, some supplies – all crammed into some tent or vehicle so they can hit the next place. Sure, you can make money selling shit to people, people buy shit all of the time when they don’t need it. And what they sell is shit. It is fly by night – scheming for the next buck for next to nothing in materials or time – shit. And now he’s taken this to a whole new level where I can be part of it.
No thanks and get the fuck out.