You: “Well Ev, you’re cheery. I thought you would be having the ol’ travel blues since you got back from Canada. Plus: looking at where you were last year, you probably will be full of nostalgia.”
That is correct You-san. Facebook does punch me in the face with anniversaries of precious moments I lived last year. January 29th it was one year ago I was standing on The Bluff overviewing one of the most amazing views of my life. Yesterday it was the anniversary of the first time I drove on the left.
And I will be confronted with many more precious memories in the weeks to come. But blue? …
I kinda like the color blue.
It also happened to be the color of the car I represented at the Car Expo in Brussels a couple of weeks ago.
As you may know, I returned from Canada on January 9th and the next day I was already attending training sessions to become a car sales(wo)man for MINI.
I applied for the job months ago and around September I found out I was hired. The company even had so much confidence in me they put me responsible for their newest model. The European premiere of the new and improved MINI COUNTRYMAN.
It kinda gave me some cold sweats knowing I would be in charge of one of the most sought after models of the event, but I was honored they confided in me.
Hell, I wouldn’t if I were them!
But there I was. Friday the 13th of January. All dressed up to sell my car to the audience for the next ten days.
Our team would work long days. Getting up early in the morning, walking and talking for at least 9 hours straight, driving home, eating and going to bed at a reasonable hour to repeat everything the next morning.
It’s like living in a bubble with very little to no time at all to do anything else.
It’s kind of like participating in a big cycling race!
You get together every morning for team briefing. By that time you’re already fully dressed and equipped for another day on the super hero front. You will kick ass. You will not shark around. You will get the job done. And by the end of the day there’s the sweet release of food and sleep.
Plus: there is a classification. Every day there is a team winner. Someone who did the upmost. Someone who deserves the 24 hour title of ‘Sales(wo)man of the day’. Presents are handed out. Stats are being showed.
And every time we would be reminded of one thing: to aim higher each day.
It was the first time I was engaging in something this competitive. And I was feeling something inside of me I had never thought I possessed: the beast of competition.
Even though the newspaper business was and is a very competitive business too, I never really played my cards that way. I just did my thing in the hopes it would all turn out well. Sure I was happy whenever I would have a scoop someone else didn’t have, but I easily could have lived without that adrenalin rush. It was just a nice little extra on top of the rest of the work.
But now, the tables had turned. I was eager to do a great job. To kick ass and to make me, MINI and the agency who got me this job, proud.
Battle mode on √
The setting was great. I was in charge of the most adventurous car. I found its identity to be more than meets the eye. Still a MINI, but also spacious, well thought out of the box. I identified with this car. I figured if I would throw in a little wit, a little charm, I could sell this puppy like sweet cherry pie.
But my car was a Diesel. So I started off a little slow too. I was assured I would attain my top speed in no time and from then on be unstoppable. On my third day I was doing so great, I was convinced I would become ‘Saleswoman of the day’.
The next morning I was all ready to receive my prize. I was cheery and confident and ready for another day of ass kicking.
Team leader: “Okay team, let’s look at some statistics from yesterday’s leads. As you can see, you are doing a magnificent job! We are attaining our goals and even going the extra mile. Sales team, I am extremely proud of how you’re doing. And yesterday one person in particular did a great job and deserves to be sales person of the day. That person is…”
Me: “This is it, this is my moment of glory.”
Team Leader: “Mike!”
I didn’t understand. Mike told me he had a bad day yesterday. And here he is, being elected to Salesman of the day…
I was feeling so low. I knew I shouldn’t let this get to me. I’m doing a great job. If the rest won’t acknowledge that, I will just have to keep doing what I’m doing until they do.
After a brief zen meditation in the toilet…
I decided to continue the work I was doing. Soon as the visitors arrived, I was back in the game. Dispensing all the valuable information people wanted from me in Dutch, English and French. Interacting with children and showing them some cool features.
And then there it was. The thing that melted all my sorrows away. The cutest little baby in a pink baby carriage.
Me: “Oh my! Aren’t you the cutest little baby in the world!” I reached out my hand to pet it on the little head, when it suddenly turned around and changed into an absolute…
The little bitch (it’s a dog, I’m allowed to use that word) bit me right in the index finger and kept holding it between her little, but very sharp, teeth for a good 10 seconds.
I screamed. When the dog finally let go she was barking and making a scene as if I had just molested her. I didn’t know what to do or say, and was keeping my hand behind my back, rubbing my thumb over my index finger to find out if it was bleeding or not. I didn’t want to look at it since I already fainted once from a bleeding finger and I didn’t want it to happen again. I had a goal to attain! And Sales(wo)men of the day don’t faint!
Owner: “No, no, no you can’t do that! Not while she’s in her carriage.”
Me: “Well good God woman! You could at least have a sign or some warning attached to her stroller!”
Maybe this was the sign. Maybe, this little calamity, was my warning to not get too caught up in the act. And the chihuahuas muzzle was just a metaphor.
All day I was out of my element because of that dog.
Eventually I generated some leads but I wasn’t at my best. The next morning I wasn’t elected. But that was no surprise.
I decided to lick my wounds and just focus on the job. After all, helping people find the car of their requirements was already pretty rewarding too. And that night we would order pizza for the entire team. So I had something to look forward to.
Our outfits were sent to the dry cleaners and everybody was just wearing jeans and sneakers to the occasion. I was wearing the black bear I scored in Canada. Read: the faux fur I bought at Value Village.
Team leader: “Woah Evelien, thats a pretty big coat.”
Me: “Yep, I’m a pimp in real life.”
I took a slice of pepperoni pizza and considered talking to our team leader. After all, two days had passed since my little bathroom tantrum and I still hadn’t made it to Saleswoman of the day. Almost everyone of our team had already been elected. But I was staying neglected.
Me: “Say…. Team leader. Does the fact that I haven’t been ‘Saleswoman of the day’ yet, a sign that I’m behind in the classification?”
Team leader: “Not at all. You’re doing a really good job. We always try to make everybody Salesperson of the day at least once. The fact that it takes a long time with you is because we think you don’t need that reassurance as much as some other people on the team. We kinda presumed you were pretty confident about what you did.”
Me: “Yeah, totally…”
I wanted to disappear behind a pizza box. I had been such a fool. Getting carried away by my emotions.
I should have known by now to never doubt my work and what I’m capable of.
The day after, this trooper got named Saleswoman of the Day. I got a beautiful pen and an applause from my team mates. By then we were already a strong team and that was the biggest reward to me. To be part of that. And to help each other get over the finish line in one piece.
You: “Talking of cycling, how is your so-called cycling career going?”
Me: “I thought you’d never ask!”
I am glad to announce I will be participating in quite a challenging race in less than 10 weeks to come. I have been training really hard and hope to be ready just in time.
Everybody around me has been really encouraging.
At a recent family outing -where I wasn’t present- my mother was telling her kin about my participation.
Kin: “Err..the chance she will make it till the finish line is pretty…”
My mother: “Small?”
Kin: “Non existent.”
It was only days later I found out about their little conversation.
Well let me tell you all a little something about Evelien Delgouffe:
SHE DOESN’T QUIT.
End of story.
I am a MINI Saleswoman of the Day (Yes, you get to wear the title for the rest of your years, it’s kind of like being Miss Universe). I may appear small on the outside. But I am surprisingly powerful on the inside.
Plus! I have the advantage of a hidden engine.
You: “A hidden engine in your bike frame?!”
Me: My mind.
I have grazed skin on my ass. And my lady parts feels like punched lasagna. Don’t tell me I won’t make it until you suffer from one of these discomforts yourself.
“Wouldn’t you be better off putting more energy in a career than shitting away precious energy for some cycling interlude?” Someone recently asked me.
I need this.
This is a way to re-energize me for my professional life.
Don’t forget I was near burnout by the end of 2015.
I wanna return healthy and fit.
I have been healthy and fit for some months now. From the moment I left for Australia it felt like the weight of the world fell off my shoulders. I was driving in Australia hoping one day I would be like those amateur cyclists I saw riding on the side of the road. In the hot summer sun. Free. One with the outdoors. Fit.
One year later I am training.
My bike makes me feel good about myself. Gives me the energy I need. Makes me strong. Healthy and young. Bikes keep people young, people!
But most importantly: my bike reminds me I have no limits.
I will never take “No you can’t” for an answer.
I am a believer.
It’s my default preset.
Like the ‘Mini’ who kept believing he could be a ‘Maxi’.
That’s what gets me through all my challenges. Whether it is writing stories, going on far away adventures or selling freedom on four wheels.
The day after the Car Expo ended, it was officially Blue Monday. Last year I left for Australia on Blue Monday. I wanted to leave on the most depressing day of the year. This year Blue Monday was -just like my Countryman- an Island Blue Monday. Filled with good vibes and memories. The 1390 liters of maximum trunk space. And that suited me just fine…
Always remember to live in the now. And appreciate what you’re doing now. Even if it’s planning a holiday, prepping yourself for a night out with friends, making your first home made lasagna (sorry if I ruined this for you). It’s precious memory making. SO LIVE NOW. You probably will never get these moments back.
Also: don’t be afraid to be competitive or fight for what’s important to you. Even if it’s unlikely you’ll succeed. You will never know for sure, until you try. People will always try to knock you down. Unfortunately, it’s their default preset. When they do. Just remember to:
1) Not give a fuck