When I arrived at work the other morning, the shop superintendent, Shoemaker, was standing next to the punch clock, stroking his footlong goatee.
“What’s going on?” I asked, as I clocked in.
Shoemaker handed me a card. “Here you go.”
I frowned. “What’s this?”
“Your referral card,” Shoemaker said. “It’s a new program that the company owner, Benito, set up. Each employee is expected to sign up five new customers each month.”
“What?” I stared at the card. “You can’t be serious. What happens if we don’t sign up five new customers each month?”
Shoemaker shrugged. “Then your ass gets fired. So I suggest you hit the trail and start knocking on doors.”
“This is crap!” I said. “I’m not a salesman, and I’ve never claimed to be! I didn’t accept this job with the understanding that it was going to involve client outreach!”
“Well, things change,” Shoemaker said. “Chock it up to the ‘other duties as assigned’ clause.”
“But I’m not a salesman!” I said. “I couldn’t sell you a glass of water if you were stranded in the Sahara! How am I supposed to sign up so many new clients?”
“You get out there and meet people,” Shoemaker said. “You know, like a normal person.”
“But I’m not a normal person!” I said. “I’m an introvert! I don’t just go around meeting new people all the time. Once I sign up my parents and my girlfriend, that’s it. That’s all the referrals I’m going to get.”
Shoemaker rolled his eyes, clenching his goatee. “Give me a break, man. You’re young. I’m sure you’ve got lots of friends.”
“I used to have friends in college,” I said.
“So what happened to them?”
I shrugged. “After graduation, they all went away to get high-paying, white-collar jobs, and I came to work here.”
“Don’t you see people on the weekends?”
I shook my head. “No. My girlfriend and I don’t even go out on the weekends anymore. I’m too tired, physically. I don’t know how people work outdoors in hundred-degree heat all day, and then go out and have a social life. It’s too exhausting. How do you do it?”
“I don’t,” Shoemaker said. “I work in the air-conditioned shop all day, so I’m not so tired when I go home.”
“That’s comforting,” I said. “Good for you. Meanwhile, I have little family here, and no friends. I might as well start looking for a different job right now.”
“Why don’t you?” Shoemaker said. “You complain about this one all the time.”
“Because I have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism!” I said. “I’m not qualified to do anything else!”
“I’m sure you can find some way to promote the company and get referrals,” Shoemaker said. “What do you do in your spare time, when you’re not asleep?”
“I don’t know,” I said, shrugging. “I like to blog, I guess.”
“OK, that’s perfect,” Shoemaker said. “So use your blog to promote the company. Write an article about how great our service is, or how qualified our employees are. I’ll bet your readers would eat that up in a heartbeat. Right?”
I stood there, grimacing.
Shoemaker’s eyes narrowed. “What? I don’t get it. What’s the problem?”
“Eh.” I tilted my head. “I’m not sure my blog is the best place to talk about how great the company is. Just saying.”