Q: How did you begin selling knives?
A: I was in my senior year of high school and I was looking for a summer job. This one ad said you could make twenty-five to thirty-five bucks an hour. I didn’t know it was selling knives. I just saw the ad and went to the seminar. I was one of the younger people there. I was excited to find out how you make the money! And Jerry was really good.
Q: Who was Jerry?
A: He was my supervisor; let’s call him Jerry. I want to call him Jerry but his name might’ve been Steve. He looked a little like Steve Guttenberg. Anyway he always wanted to go to Jitterbugs, some eighteen-and-older dance club or something. He was always like, “We’ll all have a great sales month and then go party at Jitterbugs!”
Q: So Jerry/Steve did a presentation.
A: Yeah. When he did his presentation, I was like, “Wow, he’s realllly good.” I can’t remember how he did it. He was so enthusiastic, this little guy. I was like, I CAN DO THIS. I CAN BE THE BEST. Little did I know I was going to quit a week and a half later.
Anyway he was quite young—fresh out of college, maybe mid-twenties. He was the supervisor of recruiting and training.
Q: So you learned the pitch and then went out to sell to people?
A: Yes. First I did a practice demo of my sales pitch for my Spanish teacher. She was pretty wealthy. I wanted to angle it like it was a practice run-through and then unload a bunch of knives on her. She wasn’t my favorite teacher but I got the impression she was living well. Both of her kids went to the private school where I went for high school. She thought she was the shit. She was annoying, giving me pointers, taking it seriously like it was a friggin’ class. She had me come over to her fat house and then she didn’t buy any knives. She said, “If I were you, I’d take the can and slice it down the middle halfway through the presentation cause you don’t want to give it all away.”
Q: She didn’t buy any of your Ginsu knives?
A: It’s not Ginsu. They’re CUTCO knives. Not all of them are for cutting cans either.
Q: Ok, so you sign up at the seminar and then just go give presentations to people?
A: I think you sign up and say you want to do it and then put down a deposit for the set you want to use. It’s a set of knives that comes in a suitcase. I brought the case of knives home. It had maybe four or five knives in it.
My mom was horrified because she didn’t want me to sell to her friends. I mean do you go to stranger’s houses? Carrying knives? Come in for a forty-five minute presentation?
First I sold to a school-friend’s mom. She’s Taiwanese-American so I don’t think she knew what I was talking about. She knew that I was coming over to sell something and she would end up buying. The knives are not cheap—they come in sets of multiples. She was so sweet—it was so nice of her to buy some.
Then I went home to my mom and she wasn’t happy. She was like, “What are you going to do when you run out of family friends!?” She was not happy.
Q: So you stopped?
A: A week or so later I didn’t make any more calls. I decided I’d rather sit around and watch soap operas. I ended up just canceling the orders and never telling anyone. These people never got their knives! I never had big sales and never ended up celebrating with Jerry and the gang at Jitterbugs.
Q: Do you still have the demo knives?
A: Those simple knives are the heartiest knives my mom has ever had. She still has them to this day. I want to go back and take them from her. There’s one with a plastic handle for cutting meat. That’s MY knife. I love it. It was like fourteen years ago that I had that job and I don’t think those knives even need to be sharpened. The only thing I remember about the pitch is that the knife cuts through an aluminum can, but who needs that? Who? Not even for arts and crafts. Never. I was such a sucker.
Q: Are you ever going to buy CUTCO knives for yourself?
A: The kicker is that my fiancé’s mother bought us a set of CUTCO knives, not knowing I had been one of their best and brightest spokespeople. I told my mom and she said, “How did she get them?” I’m gonna check it out online.