I hope there isn’t a mandatory orientation test we have to take, because I didn’t retain a thing from that video. It’s hard to concentrate when you’re trying to not think about the woman next to you treating your body like an ice cream cone. It’s even worse when you accidentally whack yourself in the balls when moving in your seat. I’ll never give birth to a child or have menstrual cramps and I am very much thankful for that. But there’s something about getting hit in the balls that gives you a gas bubble that somehow fills your entire torso. It’s like Pennywise the Clown shoved a balloon up my ass and I’m clenching my teeth anticipating for it to pop. I never know if I’m going to shit myself, vomit or a combination of both. I couldn’t help but to think of April sticking her hand down my pants just to take my mind off the pain. It was probably the longest and most painful boner I have ever had.
Once the video ended, everyone left the conference room with a cigarette in his or her mouth. Scarlett and I are the only one’s still here. We are alone and I know I have maybe fifteen minutes to talk to her.
“Guess I didn’t get the memo, huh?” I say glancing over at the empty seats. Scarlett laughs and makes her way over to the coffee and donut spread. I join her at the table and treat myself to a powdered donut. It’s like nuzzling my nose into a handful of baby powder when I take a bite. Scarlett looks over at me, giggles to herself and hands me a couple napkins.
“Those donuts should come with instructions,” she says and lightly brushes some of the powder off of my collar. “You wear it well though.” She pours herself a cup of coffee and makes her way to the door.
I toss the rest of the donut in the trash and follow her. “Is the break over?” From the window I could see men and women loitering the lot and lighting up their second cigarette. “Are we moving to another room?”
“You aren’t but the women are.”
“So you’re leaving me? I was kind of hoping we could talk more.”
“Don’t worry Eric, April will be back before you know it.” She opens the door and before it fully closes behind her, Joe pushes it back open. There is a stench of cigarettes that wafts wherever Joe walks. The other guys file back into the room and it’s like a parade for Marlboros. I want to step out of the room for a moment just to catch my breath and to hopefully bump into Scarlett again, but Joe has already started passing out another booklet.
“I recommend each of you read this packet at least once before Monday, and at least a thousand more times while you are here at Benz & Beamers. This,” he says holding up a copy, “is your Bible, Torah, Qur’an, whatever the fuck you believe in, add this to your list.” He paces the front of the room with the book high above his head. I used to go to church every Sunday as a kid. That soon stopped after I confessed to my sister’s drug addiction at Sunday school. After some of the things I’ve seen or been through, I can’t really pin point what I believe anymore. Scarlett is the only thing that’s keeping me going and to be honest, I’m still in denial she’s real. She’s the Sistine Chapel in my eyes.
“Shoppers don’t come to Benz & Beamers for the low prices or the once in a lifetime deals,” Joe continues, “they come here for the overall experience. They love the perks. They love the customer service. Remember someone’s name and they’ll forever be grateful. John,” he points to the guy sitting behind me. He makes his way around the room, greeting each man by his first name and ends the exercise with me. He makes direct eye contact when he says my name and I feel sweat build in my hairline. “Who is willing to give it a shot?” The room stays silent. “Practice makes perfect, gentlemen. Add it to your routine. Take your wife or girlfriend out to dinner this weekend and when the server comes by, introduce yourself, and greet them by their first name. ‘Nice to meet you John,’” he extends his hand to the man behind me. I get a whiff of cigarettes and Big Red gum; his anchor tattoos remind me of Popeye but he looks more like a meat and potato guy. “‘I am Joe and this is my wife Cheryl. We would love to start the evening with a bottle of your finest Chianti. Thank you John.’ If someone has a unique name, always confirm you are pronouncing it correctly. If you can, start a sentence and end the sentence with their name. Think about sex gentlemen.” The room suddenly got so much more quiet. “When you’re fucking a woman what’s one of your favorite things you like to hear? Your name.”
At this moment I really wish I had gone to the bathroom when I had the chance. I am so hot and ready to explode. I can’t be the only guy in here not thinking about sex. I just want to cream all over someone’s face like it’s a donut.
“Benz & Beamers has a business strategy that was developed by me and Scarlett’s great uncle Bruce. It’s simple; it’s different, and it sells. Men sell BMW’s and women sell Mercedes.” He opens his booklet to a picture of a graph. “This is on page twelve gentlemen,” he shows us the graph and continues to pace the room like he’s a flight attendant. “Ninety percent of our female clientele prefer BMW’s over Mercedes, they also prefer finalizing the car deal with a gentleman. We like to call them Hot Mom Hot Rods. Usually a mother of two – one kid is in high school, the other is in college – she’ll either be looking for a SUV around the Fall or a convertible come April. This isn’t always accurate, occasionally a woman is in the market for a Mercedes or a man comes to the dark side as Scarlett puts it. But I can tell you last month we sold 150 BMW’s; 125 of those units were sold to Hot Mom Hot Rods.”
“Can you recall each hot mom by name?” I hear some of the guys behind me chuckle to themselves and mumble something to the effect of, “oh shit, he’s going to regret asking that.” I do regret asking this. Joe retrieves his iPad and hands it over to me. There is a list of names, accompanied with the car make and model as well as the “sold” status that is typed in green font.
“Don’t worry Eric, I didn’t peek,” Joe smirks at me which makes his jawline look so defined. It’s like every time he moves, an illustrator outlines his figure. “It’s set to alphabetical order by last name, which I’d be happy to recite for you.”
I fucking hate this guy. I know he thinks he’s better than me. He reminds me of guys like Luke, except he’s not stupid enough to still be driving a shit box Saab and would have probably fucked a girl like Kelly a month after meeting her. “Joe I believe you. I was kidding.” I hand over the iPad and all I want to do is chuck it against the wall and watch it boomerang back into his face.
The session wraps up and all the men get their smokes out before reaching the door. Joe approaches me after everyone has left; he has a cigarette tucked behind his ear. “Eric,” he grabs my hand for a shake and his grip feels extra tight. “I really look forward to working with you; Scarlett has told me great things.” He taps my booklet’s cover. “Say hello to your new best friend.”
“Too bad I’ll never know his name.”