Sunday, April 22, 2012

Igor Sells T-Shirts! Disbelief Ensues!

On Thursday, I got a call from my temp agency. They had me at "motocross." The assignment: sell t-shirts and assorted (exorbitantly expensive) stuff. They warned me in advance that it would be a long day - at least 13 hours. That ended up being very close to the amount of time I spent at Seahawks/Qwest/Century Link Stadium. It was all very straightforward: we organized the merchandise and then awaited the hordes of crazed motocross fans to besiege us. This is what it looked like before the public fell upon us:

Those are my booth-mates, Michael and Emily off to the left. They were good to work with; no drama, no stress, just a deep commitment to selling overpriced junk. Did I mention that we were but one of many, many stands? Well, I believe there were seven others, including one off to our right that was quite a bit bigger than ours. Anyhow, here's a picture of me wearing a hat that we sold out of four times during the day:

The doors opened at 12:30 and the whole event was to go till 10:30, so it took a while for the total onslaught. But I was a little surprised when my first customer rushed up to me and hurriedly purchased $160 worth of gear without even batting an eye. That was just the beginning. As the crowd accumulated, people came forward in masses to pay $25 for t-shirts and hats, $55 for hoodie sweat jackets and any amount in between for other items. At first, they paid with cash, but the same people kept returning. When the cash was gone, they paid with credit cards. And they kept returning. Strangely enough, many of them were buying stuff during the actual races they were supposedly there to see. It was crazy. Now, you might be thinking, "Motocross fans, ugh, they must have been a vast herd of rednecks!" Nothing of the sort. Almost everybody was extremely well-behaved (especially the Canadians, of whom there were many) and even polite. Rednecks with terrible manners couldn't afford such an event.

Just when I thought things would settle down, we were assailed by something very much like a human tsunami. I spent the next three hours in a retail trance. We ran out of items, were resupplied and ran out again. It was absolutely insane. People bought everything in great quantities and spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars each. My biggest sale was just south of $400. They spent a ton and kept coming back. When it finally tapered off, I had so much money in my cash-apron, it was practically falling out. Once I got it all sorted, I handed Emily a stack of twenties at least two inches thick. And then there were the fifties and hundreds - many of them, as well. So much money. It was incredible.

I did actually get a chance to have a look at one of the qualifying races. It's weird; once the thing starts, you really can't tell who's winning or what. I mean, does this make sense?

How about now?

Or now?

So there followed several more hours of furious crap-hawking. I totally began to feel like a carny, except that people came to us waving their money (instead of us trying to entice them onto a rickety ride or into a rigged game) and credit cards, expecting nothing in return but gaudy t-shirts and assorted shoddy gear. Well, they got a lot of it. But I want to stress once again that the crowd was surprisingly pleasant and alarmingly willing to spend their hard-earned dough on inessential things. And so it continued until the final race. Some guy won. And then those whose credit wasn't yet in shambles bought us out of much of our remaining inventory. We sold out of numerous sizes of hoodies many, many times during the day, were restocked and sold out again. If we had had a thousand more, we would have sold out of those, too. Like I said, it was insane.

Here's how it was. Each charge produced a receipt. At the end of things, the stack looked like this:

I'm thinking that the average charge purchase was around $75 or so dollars. And this stack contains probably around 400 sales. We had two machines. There were seven others, each with two machines apiece, doing the same brisk business. You do the math. On top of that, I took in armloads of cash. I have to tell you something: we're all in the wrong business if it's not selling t-shirts at a motocross event.

The day was exhausting, but it was truly a trip to the surreal, which made it worth it. I toiled for 13 and a half hours and then walked home. And that was the day.

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