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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Fear of Failure Week 5: Creep

For those who don't know, mid-February to mid-March is Adelaide Fringe Festival time. It's by far the busiest time of year for many of the people I know, including myself. I've been taking part in a lot of improv stuff during the festival, dedicating a lot of my time there. I've also been rehearsing for a new run of kids' theater shows starting later this month, and the hours I've been getting at work has been picking up. Add to that my weekly pub quiz and some other quizzes I've been guest-hosting, and the fact that practically every spare night I've had has been spent supporting friends who have their own Fringe shows, and it's meant my little rejection-therapy project has taken a backseat for now. But rest assured, I don't come tonight empty-handed. There was one thing that tested my resolve this week.

One of my many jobs involves handing out food samples in grocery stores. It's an alright job, but only in certain situations. The company's biggest client is Lindt chocolate, which is naturally a very popular product. I just have to walk around a store for four hours at a time, dressed in a chef outfit and saying "Would you like some Lindt chocolate?" over 500 times. It's when I do any other product that it gets tough. I don't know if it's just Adelaide, but people tend to be very closed-off here. I'll be standing behind a table with a tray full of small cups of yoghurt in front of me. I'll try and smile at passers-by and they'll avoid eye-contact with me. I'll say hi to someone and they'll reply with "No thanks." I've literally seen people take turns down different aisles to avoid passing me. It makes it hard for me because I don't want people seeing me get rejected by scores of people for no reason and feel pity or embarrassment for me. So I only actually offer people a sample if they look directly at me or my table and slow down.

I did a shift sampling yoghurt on Wednesday. It was a quiet store to begin with, but add to that the fact I'd been put in a place where customers could see me a mile off, it meant that for four hours I was just standing there half asleep. I handed out 12 samples in those four hours. So the next day I decided I needed to be more proactive. I went to a new shift, sampling the same yoghurt again, and decided to just catch people's attention as much as I could. That old trope of "You'll never see them again" came in handy this time. I figured anyone who sees me and feels embarrassed for me will only do so for about a minute. Then the stuff they actually care about will seep back in and I won't even be a distant memory. So I grabbed the attention of anyone I could, offering them a sample. Naturally most of them said no, but a surprising amount said yes. I didn't end up feeling embarrassed at all and we actually sold out of the yoghurt before my shift even finished. Doing another shift that afternoon, the same thing happened. All stock sold out, a-million-and-one samples served... I was full of confidence. The next day I went into a new store to sample the product again... Not so successful. nobody wanted to try it and we didn't end up selling much at all. But I kept on catching people's attention, even if I could tell by their face that they weren't interested. And I didn't feel embarrassed at all.

You may have noticed that the title of this post has nothing to do with food sampling. There was one more thing that happened this week... But I just don't feel right talking about it. It brings me back to the whole girl situation and it paints me in a light that isn't very flattering. I hope it's enough to say that while two weeks ago I mentioned that I'd be more careful about asking out friends, I've now realised that propositioning strangers probably isn't an option either. I think this is all you need to know.


58 comments:

  1. Glad work stuff is picking up.
    Handing out samples is tough. It's like people are afraid they will be sucked into buying a vacuum cleaner or something.

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    1. I'm certainly not trying to trick or coerce anyone, but it's possible I'm a minority. I once tried a free sample of nuts the a guy was handing out at a carnival stall. When I thanked him and walked off, he looked at me like I'd just insulted his family.

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  2. Replies
    1. That they'll be sucked into buying a vacuum?

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  3. People always seem to steer clear of the sample tables, unless they forgot lunch haha they think they are obligated to buy. So no friends or strangers, what's left? Frenimies?

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  4. Oooh, the Adelaide Fringe. A friend of mine is down your way to go to as much as she can.
    And another friend is organising a Newcastle Fringe. For the first time. Very, very busy, very, very excited.
    I am wincing about the rejection you hinted at - and admiring your persistence at work.

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    1. Oh wow, that's incredible that your friend's just decided to START HER OWN FRINGE. What a visionary ;)

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    2. He took a play of his to the Edinborough Fringe, loved it, and came home and set about creating his own. So far the early signs are very, very promising.

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  5. Hi Michael.
    I have a different perspective here. My Dad was diabetic and loved chocolate. Any time we went shopping at this one store, I'd cringe seeing them hand out samples. He couldn't say no, knowing it would have such terrible consequences. So think of it this way. Maybe someone has to change direction, or shield their eyes because they know the sample will make them sick or uncomfortable. I do not see this as rejection toward you.

    Now about that 'white slip.' (smdh). I was at a karaoke bar and made two mistakes. 1 - I wrote my name on the slip. 2- I sang a song everybody liked. So six people wrote my name on a slip of paper, and listed that same requested song. I sang it six times! What an idiot... I never went back :) I guess what I'm saying - you never know how many slips the chick has gotten for the night. "Let's meet up," might be one of the most played songs. Oh do I have any advice? Yeah, ask RockingRobyn!! She helped me last week (smile).

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    1. Usually people are just good enough to tell me if they have diabetes, gluten intolerance etc. That's perfectly understandable. I didn't know Robyn was an expert in karaoke ;)

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  6. People are pretty closed off here too. Around here, I think it's because a lot of the people offering samples can be pretty aggressive. They offer a sample, and then try to guilt trip you into buying things. So people will take huge detours just to avoid that.

    Also, bad pickup experience aside, I just have to say that I love karaoke. Turns out I can do a spot on high pitched, kicked-in-the-balls Barry Gibb, so whenever I go I have to do The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." Always brings the house down... whether that's good or bad, I have yet to find out.

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    1. Hahaha I THINK that's a good thing. I don't have a go-to song yet, but I did once get a fantastic response with Blink 182's All the Small Things :)

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  7. You left us hanging on the story!!! That's okay though, some things should remain private. ;)

    Dealing with people does get easier and easier the more you do it. You seem to be a pro at getting yourself out there and that's more than most folks do. :)

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    1. Thanks Rosey :) It's helped me get this far at least :P

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  8. How do people say no to chocolates? I love chocolate! My kids go nuts over samples. I have to admit I love them to.

    The Adelaide Fringe Festival sounds fun. It's good you are helping out.

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    1. Yeah it confuses me because I used to love them as a kid...

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  9. Alissa Apel is a genius...she realizes how insane it is to say no to chocolate.

    As for the paper...well, that was just another day of offering samples. Their loss, buddy.

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  10. There used to be a food court at a shopping center near my mom's house. It had a pretzel shop, a Chinese restaurant, and other small fast food type restaurants. My mom would fill up on the free samples at all of these places, so she would never want to buy anything to eat. I told her it was wrong, and it got to the point where they would
    hide the free samples when they saw my mom coming. Michael, my mom would eat
    any sample you offered her, as long as it was free. Maybe you need to work in older communities, because many old people feel the same way. You were smart to try different strategies to encourage people to try the products. I admire how you give your
    all to everything you do!

    Julie

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    1. Haha well while I do hand out samples without trying to push people into a sale, and while I do give them more if they ask for it, I'd probably feel the same way about a person who was just eating as much as she could because it was free.

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    2. >>... it got to the point where they would hide the free samples when they saw my mom coming.

      Funniest thing I encountered all day!

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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  11. My kids love samples. They would have ram-sacked you. My sister-in-law did alcohol during Christmas season + had to have a guy dragged off who kept swiping the entire bottle when she wasn't looking. But I wouldn't be embarrassed if I were you. Smiles and super friendly - it's amazing how that throws folks for a loop ;)

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    1. The only time I've had to give out alcohol was during Christmas season and I was payed a mint for it. I wish I could do it again :P

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  12. I think that's normal for anywhere. We all try to avoid eye contact with strangers in public places. I know I do and that's because I'm shy and an introvert. I'm uncomfortable with eye contact. But I often glance at the samples offered. If it's something I want, I'll walk up, take one and thank the person. If I don't (because I don't eat meat), I look away. If the person says something to me, though, I'll smile politely and decline.

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    1. That seems like what everyone else is doing. We all seem to feel uncomfortable telling people no :P

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  13. Intriguing. There's nothing wrong with propositioning strangers, Michael - unless that stranger is a real loser, but you'd never know until you try (in some cases).

    You know, we're so self-conscious about our own self-consciousness that we forget that others are self-conscious. I get self-conscious whenever I walk by a sample table. I think they're thinking "She just comes in here for the food," (which is true, I dart for that food but then try to look as if I accidentally landed there) or "Her again" (I often wish I could go back for seconds or thirds, but don't want them to think I'm a pig or pathetic...

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    1. Well I don;t know about others, but I certainly don't think those things :) I heard a great saying once which said "We feel inadequate because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel.

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    2. "We feel inadequate because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel."

      That's a quote! Thanks for sharing that one, Michael.

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  14. What the hell world do you live in where nobody wants free samples? Every time the stores here do samples, people get in long lines for a few peanuts or a spoonful of yogurt. Must be why us Americans are so tubby, eh? Last week we were at Costco, and weekends they set up a ton of stations for passing out samples. Saturday is my daughter's favorite day to go because they love trying all the different offerings. Frankly, I didn't feel like waiting in line for an inch of bread, but my daughter insisted. After a few minutes we were finally up front and some jerk decided to walk right up and take our samples. My husband was across the store and saw this happen, so he decided to play bigger jerk and stalk the guy through the store, cutting him off or walking really slow in front of him. You don't mess with other people's samples here!

    Oh, and on topic now. Good job pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Sounds like you did a good job getting people to try the yogurt!

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    1. That's the way people should be around free samples! Although you're right, that guy was a jerk. What made him think it would be okay to do that?

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  15. There's no way I'd say "no" to chocolates! Seems like you did a good job with the samples. People have their reasons for trying/not trying samples. Don't take it personally if they choose not to try.

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    1. Yeah I know it's not that they don't like me. I mean, it's me. What's not to like? ;)

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  16. There's no way I'd say "no" to chocolates! Seems like you did a good job with the samples. People have their reasons for trying/not trying samples. Don't take it personally if they choose not to try.

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  17. I think you were a wise sample giver. I am guilty of avoiding the sample table if I am in a hurry.

    I have always felt bad for guys. My poor husband was so awkward, I asked him out first. And then I told him he was marrying me. as the mother of four boys, I see your pain. We girls think we have it rough. Walk a day in a guy's stinky sneakers.

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    1. I'm glad to hear that - I've grown up around feminists who think men don't have real problems :P

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  18. That's fascinating. Obviously there are quite a few people who are wavering about whether to try the yoghurt or not, and you being confident tips them over the edge. I'm sure you'll soon find a girl who's wavering to go out with you!

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    1. Hopefully it's one I want to go out with too :P

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  19. I've been thinking of sending my daughter to Australia.... ;-)

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    1. Wellll, I certainly wouldn't object. Wouldn't it be SO MUCH fun to have me for a mother in law!!!

      I'd have fun anyway.

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  20. I went to a Lindt chocolate store when I was in Germany in December and I took a lot of advantage of the free samples :)

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    1. People often regail me with stories of visiting Lindt factories. It sounds like so much fun :)

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  21. haha, you have such a cool way of living your life- for real! I love that you decided to be bold like that. The funny thing is that I think we are always so internally embarassed about things but really no one really minds. I admire how you try to step up like that and challenge yourself!

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    1. Yes, that's one thing I've noticed so far - everyone seems to have insecurities that no one else notices :P

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  22. I worked as a mystery shopper in my 20s...and that naturally led to jobs that involved handing out samples. I never did that but I did accept a job once that required me to stand at the drive-thru at Krystal's and log what everyone ordered for an hour. Then I had to go inside and write down what everyone ordered at the register...then go around the restaurant asking questions of people eating. I have NO idea what they were accomplishing with that. From what I remember, I had to write down some descriptive things about the customers, so maybe they were researching which customers ate which things.

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    1. Wow, that sounds like a pretty yuck job :P

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  23. Wow, I probably try to avoid food sampler people in grocery stores. Am I pissing them off by doing this?

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    1. Probably. But if they're the kind of people who get offended if you don't buy anything, then let them be offended. If they just want to hand people food because it makes them happy, go for it :)

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  24. You'll find somebody Michael. You're outgoing. Did you ever ask one of your friends to set you up? That's how my parents met. It was awkward for both of them equally. Then they ended up together.

    As far as the unemployment goes...we'll see. He talked to them. They were understanding. I'm not sure what he has to do exactly.

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    1. Setups do seem pretty awkward :P

      That's good that they were understanding, you wouldn't normally expect that from a government agency :P

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  25. I'd definitely try the chocolate samples and probably would try the yogurt too. If it was some spicy sauce or something, I'd pass it by. I don't think I'd like having that job very much, but sounds like you've figured out the best way to go about it.

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    1. Yeah it's not for everybody. I've been told it suits me though :)

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