Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Las Mujeres

When we lived in the duplex, back in the day, before son1 was born, life seemed to be a constant adventure. It was during this period that I shot a car. This was the era that I ruined the little bride on camping. And, I guess, the last of the era when we just didn’t give a shit what happened to us.

It was also when I learned to speak Spanish (sort of.)

The company I was working for had opened a branch in Dallas. Something of a fantasy of the owner to have a plant down there, so he tried it. Basically it was run by his nephew, Steve, some weird chick that later got fired for drug dealing, and a sales person named Margaret.

Margaret was a real go getter. She went after the Sear’s and the Neimans of the world.

Apparently Neiman Marcus showed her a project that got her salivating. It was 42 pieces of paper inserted into a number eleven envelope, labeled and mailed bulk rate. One million times.

This information I have only second hand as I was in Little Rock at the time. She brought the sample back to the plant, showed it to Manuel who had worked for LEE, the mailhouse of record for Neiman, and asked him how much Ruthie had been charging to do that.

Well, that’s tantamount to asking the janitor how much you should charge to mail a magazine. Manuel said, “I theeenk maybe about sixtee dollors a thousand.”

Margaret went back and bid the job at $60 thinking LEE would surely go up a little since last year. Of course Neimans jumped on that, hands and feet.

Some weeks later, I was summoned to the carpeted office.

“We need you to go to Dallas and help Steve,” she said. “He’s got his hands full with the Neiman’s job.”

I drove down Saturday morning and got there about one o’clock. A quick tour of the plant revealed about 150 Mexicans (five of which could speak English) inserting “las mujeres” into the envelopes. All of the inserts had pictures of pretty ladies modeling the latest fashions.

Margaret came in about that time with her arms full of papers and file folders and announced we needed to meet in the conference room.

She spread out fantastic reams of yellow legal pad sheets with scribbling all over them and proceeded to tell us the plan. Margaret had been up until three that morning going over all the facts and figures and she had arrived at a plan: “if every person inserts 250 pieces per hour, we’ll make money.”

I looked at her for a moment, not sure if I had actually heard that or not. I carefully chose my words, “Margaret, we’ll be lucky if each person inserts 25 pieces per hour.”

Margaret’s eyes welled up, watery, as she stuttered out her reply, “you mean you’re not going to follow my plan?”

“You ain’t got no fucking plan,” blurted Steve, at which point Margaret burst into tears and ran from the room.

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