I spent my first year out of the army working as a mechanic for a landscaping company. It wasn’t a bad job…I just had a bad boss. I should’ve figured something was amiss when every financial issue had to be signed off by someone other than him. He was the supposed boss, but his name was missing from everything. I suspected he was some kind of crook and just after I left, I read about him in the newspaper…he was a crook.
That wasn’t the reason why I quit that job, however, though it would’ve become a reason had I stayed. I quit because the boss endangered one of my sons. I had taken my oldest son to work with me one day and he had the time of his life. He loved anything to do with engines. Just as we were leaving for the day, the boss asked me to take one of the Jeeps home because he thought something wasn’t quite right with it. I had done this with other vehicles before so it wasn’t a big deal, even though he couldn’t really tell me what he thought was wrong. I found that odd, but my son and I jumped into the Jeep and began to drive home. The first stop sign told me what was wrong. There weren’t any brakes. THERE WEREN’T ANY BRAKES!!
I managed to get the Jeep back to the yard and marched into the boss’s office. I held nothing back. He had me take my son for a ride in a vehicle he KNEW didn’t have brakes. He thought it was funny. I thought otherwise. I quit on the spot. It took everything in me not to add an assault to my resignation.
After that experience, I decided to try something completely different. I picked up a job with a military associated organization that sold life insurance. It was a match made in hell but I didn’t realize it at the time. I just knew I needed to work so I could help provide for my family.
The job eventually took me across the country to Washington state and I ended up in a larger office in Tacoma. I was given a mentor and he was larger than life. He was the top producer in the region and I swear he got it by intimidation. He was intimidating. He was a newly retired Command Sergeant Major from the army and still lived and breathed the military. His voice was like Jessie Ventura’s and when he spoke, he boomed. Like I said, I think he intimidated soldiers to buy life insurance. He was a good mentor, however.
I started out well but began to lose heart as the pressure built to sell more. As plenty of people know, you do worse when you’re pressured. I also began to have a problem with believing that what I was doing was right. It came to a head when I went to an appointment with a soldier that my boss had set up. He told me it was a sure sale because he had already prepped the client. That sounded good to me until I got there.
The soldier lived in a rundown apartment with his wife and three kids. He was lower-ranking and you could tell he didn’t make enough money as a soldier to fully support his family. I had no idea how he thought he could afford a life insurance policy. I gave him my spiel and his wife looked very uncomfortable. She even made a comment that they couldn’t afford the policy but he shut her down by saying she would like it fine if he were killed in action. I couldn’t go through with it. I purposely sabotaged my sale and talked him out of it by explaining that the military would pay her and the kids if he were killed in action.
Needless to say, I didn’t get to keep that job, but I left with my soul intact. There are some things you should never compromise on, one of them being honesty. Besides, my boss was just after numbers. I might’ve gotten the sale, but if you know anything about selling life insurance, it’s the residuals that build up and pay you. This poor soldier would’ve had to drop the policy in a month or two and both his family and I would’ve paid for it. I didn’t want any part of hurting his family and I didn’t want to boost my boss’s numbers only to hurt mine.
A couple of weeks later, I was watching COPS on television. They were filming in the Tacoma area so I was interested. The cops in the scene had to serve a warrant in a seedy trailer park when a very large man in a suit came out of the trailer behind them. He was unmistakable. It was my former intimidating mentor. He was just standing there watching the action.
Now whenever I hear that song from COPS, I think of the bad people I had to work with when I almost sold my soul for money. It’s a good reminder that not all people have your interests in mind when they’re trying to line their own pockets.
Years later, I read that the organization separated itself from the life insurance and thus became reputable by doing so. The life insurance company was bought out and they quit targeting military members. Sometimes karma does work.