So, after several years and much thinking, I decided to break my engagement with Gordon and move out of my farmhouse in Effort, Pennsylvania. It was yet another change I had to make to have a healthy life style. Even though I had many happy years, there were too many warning signs for a stressful future. I wanted peace; not struggles. I swore to myself that I would never put myself into an abusive relationship like my mother did. I believe I made the right decision.
According to tradition, the sleepy community of Effort was named for the considerable “effort” it took townspeople to agree on a name for the place. I should have known I wouldn’t fit in from the start. When I lived there, the population was 1,500 and there was a small “shed size” post office for which we had to pick up or mail. I hated going there; the post master called me a “Yankee”; it was clear he didn’t approve any NJ or NY people moving into his small hamlet.
The farmhouse was set on a twenty, two, acre farmstead, and it was surrounded by two hundred acres of Christmas tree farms. The land had rolling hills, lots of trails, hundreds of wild ferns flanking the dirt road, mushrooms, wildlife (wild turkeys, pheasants, deer, owls, birds, foxes, coyotes, and geese), 1 very large empty field, a horse barn, riding ring and so many other treats of mother nature. I loved the solitude; yet hated not being about to drive to a store, coffee shop or restaurant to see people, it was too rural for me. The town had a diner called The Effort Diner, it had a counter and booths, the walls were decorated/covered with John Wayne, Elvis pictures; as well as taxidermy heads. Every waitress looked like she was stuck in a time warp from the 1950’s. If you wanted comfort food, a cup of joe or pie, this was the place to go!
Several weeks before I moved out of the farmhouse, I mentioned my dilemma to my friend Kim at work. She let me know she was looking for a roommate! It was perfect timing!!! We found a modest (very modest) apartment in the Delaware Water Gap, PA. We got along so well; we became very close friends. We both sold time shares for the same Real Estate Broker in Bushkill, PA and were both doing very well financially.
Kim and I found a rental. The apartment Kim and I rented was nothing to write home about, yet the outdoor surroundings were very pretty. It was located in the beautiful Delaware Water Gap area. The Delaware Water Gap is a water gap on the border of the US states of NJ, PA where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Gap encompasses approximately 70,000 acres of stunning scenery along 44 miles of the Delaware River. The park features waterfalls, beaches, and trails. I felt blessed to drive through this breathe taking stretch at least twice a day. Kim and I frequented a small, famous jazz club called the Deer Head Inn right down the road from our apartment; the music was awesome. The Inn is the oldest continuously running jazz club in the country; it was originally built in the 1840’s. Well known musicians would frequent for an impromptu concert; a great place! The drive to work every morning was so scenic; especially in the Fall. Every Fall the park had a huge hot air balloon fest which was spectacular! Our downstairs neighbors were friendly pot smokers…the smoke would come through our bathroom floor vent! I took many baths.
As I recall, Kim and I had what they call today a sweet, little “farm table” in our very small kitchen. Every room was painted in stark white. I believe there was a two-burner stove with a small oven; a cute original cast iron sink. I remember us buying a juicer and going on juice diets; LOL!!! The living room was dressed with floor to ceiling windows along one whole side of four walls. We didn’t have a TV; however, we did have stereo because we both loved music so much! Our bedrooms had ample space; although we could have used more closet space; what women couldn’t!!! Kim had more shoes than Bloomingdales. I’m not kidding.
As I said in the previous post, Kim and I worked for the same broker. For the
most part we worked the same hours; Saturdays and Sunday from 8:00 until 9:00pm and maybe 1 or 2 other weekdays half days. The broker had about 60 + real estate agents working for him. I still keep in touch with many of the agents.
It was a crazy business; I never had so much fun and learned so much about sales.
Each morning, agents had to gather in what they called “The Pit”. This was where we had our morning meetings; as well as closed all our “deals”. The Pit was located in the club house to the Ski Lodge at the Tree Tops Resort. Because the management wanted to pump up the staff, they would blast music like the Rocky theme or “Don’t worry be happy”; the music was turned off when the last agent was seated. They also provided unlimited coffee, pastries, bagels, and soft drinks all day. In the mornings, the management team always gave pep talks or training sessions; they were always beneficial. It really pumped me up! Team leaders had to report on the previous days sales and they distributed “spiffs” for certain achievements. The broker always had competitions to motivate us; usually all-inclusive paid trips. Once the meeting was over, the music was blasted again, and the hounds were released! Working here reminding me of the movies Glengarry Glen Ross from 1992 and Tin Men in 1987. All agents would drive over to the “front end” building and the “ups” would be waiting for their “free gifts”.
I was trained in person or in classes by the best: Tom Peters; Zig Ziglar; Brian Tracy; Dale Carnegie; and Tom Hopkins. I was trained to read body language, doing business with other cultures, qualifying, time management, setting goals, and closing anyone. The training was for either the phone or face-to-face sales. What I learned in these training sessions, has been beneficial through-out my entire career.
The front end consisted of several areas: The wheel room; the floor, the break room; waiting room; the tour of the resort and grounds, or the back end/or pit.
The waiting room is where each up registered for their free gift; they were then put into the queue by Lisa (not me) in the wheel room. It always amazed me how many people would waste one of their days off for a timeshare tour and free gift. The waiting room was always super crowded; several hundred people every Saturday and Sunday. There was a daily list of agent ranks based on yesterday’s performance. The more you sold, the higher up on the list you became, the more ups you receive in a day. The most you could have was 3. When it was your turn to tour an up, Lisa called your name by speaker in the break room. If you didn’t answer by 5 minutes, you were passed over.
All agents waited in the break room to hear their name called. This break room was filled with cigarette smoke, pot, other drugs; I remember seeing some flasks as well. There were always tired or hung-over agents. Thank God I was sober when I worked here!!! If I made it through all the parties and trips with this group, I knew I would stay sober for life. As the day became busier the less agents sat in the break room; however, there was always so much energy in the air! Certain agents always stayed behind to play poker. There were thousands of dollars on the table! Serious gambling! Agents would pay for different spots on the wheel. We worked very long and hard hours together! Our team was very close. It really wasn’t competitive if you were selling, we supported each other. We had many after work get-togethers; we worked hard and played hard! I loved this job and the people I worked with. The sale managers were wonderful. The only bad thing about this business was it was seasonal; I was able to stockpile funds to help me survive during the winter months.
I was very involved in AA on my days off; attending many meetings and doing lots of service work in the local rehabilitation centers. In fact, my second sponsor Jenny worked with me at the resort for a short time. Another friend of mine from the program was witness to how well I was doing financially at the resort, so he started working at the resort as well; I lost touch with both friends.
Funny things happened in the break room as well as on the floor.
Many characters worked here. I’m going to change names to prevent any hard feelings of the guilty; plus, I might not remember names.
- There was a woman named Betsy Boop, she was my favorite person to observe; She was about 80 years old. Betsy always wore a beautiful suit, a sweet little hat and a pretty brooch. She reminded me of my Aunt June; that’s part of why I cared so much for her. Betsy was a real spit fire and a great sales person; ups believed her. She could sell bacon to a vegan. Poker was her game too!
- Sweet Cheeks Pucci (aka Ralph) was super high on life or on steroids, he was a great salesman! He raced around flirting with all the ladies and had a wonderful laugh. He was very comical. Pucci reminded me of Ricky Riccardo (Lucy’s husband).
- Rocco the Charmer was slick! He was always dressed to the nines, greased back black hair, big blue eyes, long eyelashes, he always wore suspenders and was also a great salesman. Rocco the Charmer, The Quiet Man, and Sweet Cheeks Pucci were always together; partners in crime. I remember them telling an up to back up their car so they could load the free gift in their trunk; They told the person they were getting a big screen projection TV. So, the up stayed in the car, as Pucci and Rocco put all their weight on the back of the car and put a small, hand held TV with a magnification glass on it in the trunk! We all had a good laugh about it. You had to be there to enjoy the moment. Rocco died at a very young age; I believe it was from steroids. He was a sweet guy. I often wonder what ever happened to Pucci. I stay in touch with Joe.
- Jose Cuervo was always drinking Tequila, always high on something and sold to every person he toured! He started renting buses and bringing people to tour the property by the bus loads; Jose sold them by the bus loads! Jose’s idea caught on to others; it was fair game. Jose was always running around the resort as if he owned it. He currently lives in Florida with his mother.
- Dian Fossey and Boris Johnson, Dian from New Zealand, Boris from England; Dian was always overzealous and was an amazing saleswoman. Ian not so much. She was well traveled herself, so when she talked about traveling, I even got excited about buying from her. Boris and Dian married and had children; they moved back to New Zealand. They divorced. Dian remarried and lives in Mount Martha, Victoria, Australia. I stay in touch with Dian through Facebook. She is selling high-end real estate in Australia and is very involved with animal rights.
- Harry the Pockets (Pockets for short) the was a lonely guy, always wondering around aimlessly; he liked to drink, play poker and he would take his ups on the fastest tours imaginable! Several times a day, I would see Pockets pull meat and other odd foods out of his suit pockets during the day. He always looked sad.
- There was an older couple who played poker most days; this is how they made their living. Another couple who met at our office and married; there were many romances. Two mother and daughters on the team; one of the young daughter’s died from Aids at age 20.
- On the very back-end, Miss Boss Lady in her sun filled office to help with credit checks and finances to close contracts; Miss Boss Lady was everyone’s mom away from home! She knew her stuff and wasn’t to be messed with; it was known not to get on her bad side.
- Then there was Kim and I; after we left, we found out that others thought we were lesbians because we were always together (so far from the truth) LOL. I was in a heterosexual relationship. Kim went on to work in the publishing industry, she is currently the Director of Conferences and Meetings nationwide and lives with her husband in Savannah, Georgia. I retired after 30 years of recruiting, human resources and workforce management in technical/executive/engineering industries. I live in Lawrence, Kansas with my husband; our 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren live 20 minutes to 45 minutes away. We are still the closed of friends.
Getting back to the pit, it was the goal of every agent to go through the tour as fast as possible, trial closing your ups as much as possible along the way; then final closing your up in the pit. If you felt any bit of anticipation of not being able to close the deal, you would have to call in a “TO Manager” to close your ups. If your TO closed the deal for you, you would split the commission. So, your goal was always to close the deal on your own for 100% commission. Once the contract was completed and finances were complete; and depending on the time, you would go back to the wheel room to announce your back for rotation on the wheel. The most ups I could manage in a day was 3, maybe 4. We made at least 4,000. per sale, 1099.
When winter came, the sales line would be cut to approximately 10 agents. Most agents would transfer to warmer climates to sell. My last winter, I was able to stockpile funds to get me the winter months and plus some.
Ups: You’re Up. It’s your turn. Either pre-qualified or not couples or person convinced to attend a sales presentation for a free gift.
Tour & Pitch: Showing the resort and land and/or villa; all amenities to the ups, describing the pros of time shares, describing the international exchange program, overcoming any (ALL) objections …several hours of intense pressure. Closing all along the tour.
Frontend: Encompassed the waiting room, the break room, the floor, and the wheel room.
Pit: Where morning meetings were held and ups are brought to close.
Wheel: Where Lisa controlled the master list of order and had had a huge wheel. Ups were registered and assigned to an agent based on the agent/wheel.
The Floor: An agent brings Up to small table in a huge room, with hundreds of others a discuss the timeshare plan “pre-qualify” them and ”pitch” them. large conference room, filled with the other salespeople
Pitch: A sales script filled with trial closes.
Pre-Qualify: Feeling out the up, getting an idea if your up can purchase the deal.
Deals: A contract
Trial Closes: Getting to up to say “yes” to purchasing many times before the “yes” at the very end of your pitch.
Spiff: Spiffs were either cash or changed your spot on the “wheel”.
TO Manager: Take Over Manager; They try to close for you.
To close this post, I will say the only reason I left the time share business was my pregnancy with my daughter Jillian. I wanted stability for my baby and seasonal work wouldn’t give me that. What if I went through a slump? I needed something different, something I could count on. I started searching different careers in technology. So, I worked up until my 2 weeks after my due date.
When interviewing, I had to defend myself for selling time shares. People associate time share salespeople to used car sales people. Although, the interviewers always made the comment, “Well if you can sell time shares, you can sell anything”, which is true. My training was intense. Honestly, I believed what I was selling was a great option for people who wanted to travel every year and stay at resorts like Tree Tops. I never lied to sell anyone our program, we had a great international exchange program.
In my next blog I talk about the beginning of my career in the technical; recruiting industry.