God this Girl’s a B*tch, we will be Best Friends.
Sales training for a medical device company is the cross between mini medical school and spring break, sans the wet t-shirt contest. Wet scrub contest just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And working over a cadaver, hung over, is never, and I mean, never recommended.
I have a definitive learning threshold for any given day. It’s good to realize your weaknesses and move on. Once that mind numbing threshold is met during sales training, I find that I become distracted, like those kittens that follow around laser pointers. Only I’m far less entertaining. I either become catatonic, get uncontrollable ‘church laughter,’ or design jewelry.
At Stryker Leibinger, where I sold craniofacial titanium plates and screws for trauma and neurosurgery, that day came when I decided to take $2,300 (and there is absolutely no mark-up) titanium mandible reconstruction plate and make a bracelet.
The next day I made matching earrings (with smaller plates of course, anything else would have been just tacky.) These plates were specific for training so please don’t chastise me for taking a plate from a ‘good law’ abiding drunk driver fleeing from the cops from his earlier prison break.
I later lost my set to one of my surgeons who thought his wife would like it. He was an amazing surgeon who taught me a lot, so it was small price to pay. And with that, my career as a jewelry designer ended.
I had a field marketing manager come ride with me, to finish out his training. He was fresh out of college but had told me he was in about twenty or so cases already. When you ‘dress out,’ for the Operating Room, scrubs are the attire of choice. Occasionally, if you have to run into an area that is sterile and don’t want to ‘dress out,’ a sheer-like/paper bunny-suit can be thrown over street clothing.
I worked trauma and didn’t have time to explain all the subtle details of the bunny suit, but figured since the guy had been through training, and in at least 20 cases, he knew what to do. I told him to toss on a bunny suit and meet me in the hallway on the sterile side.
I was running a surgical tray into a coordinator to get ready for an emergency surgery, with the marketing manager trailing behind. I kept noticing strange looks but didn’t really have time to process it. I handed the tray to the coordinator and turned around and saw the ‘full frontal’ of the marketing manager. Apparently, it was laundry day at his house, because all he was wearing under his fairly sheer bunny suit were black socks. Note to self, always explain the importance of leaving street clothing on under the bunny suit.
I have met some of the most amazing people at training; and, when you spend 20 hours a day for two solid weeks with these people, you had better come out with at least one friend. Device sales are different than pharmaceuticals in many ways but for this story, the main difference is that the class is usually 99 % male. And the few females I have encountered were all Type A, over achievers, and most of us are attractive since we’ve had the humps on our backs relocated up front.
One device training in particular was different from the start. I have a tendency to dance through the ring of red flags, and this time there were three of us dove through a flaming ring of red flags. There were more women in this training than I had in my last 3 training classes combined, which was the wrong ratio for device. This was their first sales training class hired, ever, and the executive secretary made more than the sales force (um yeah-that’s a bit of a design flaw), and let us know at every opportunity that she made more than sales.
Dana, the bubbly girl from Charlotte in my class, told me and another girl (Ambien Excuses) that she wasn’t there to make friends, and that she had a full life at home and she was just there to learn. Wow. Chill out bitch. (It’s day two, pace yourself) I had figured, like the rest of us that everything was not exactly what it seemed. Ambien Excuses, as Dana and I later dubbed her, would drink wine after class, pop an Ambien (or six) and stumble through the hotel hallways, mumbling in coherently, in various states of dress. Inexplicably, she told us that nightly, she ended up naked in her room with someone, but she couldn’t remember who, because he was gone in the morning. We also could not figure out how she got her scrubs to show enough cleavage to breastfeed the table at breakfast either. Scrubs are about as asexual an article of clothing one could wear outside of a nun’s habit. Ambien Excuses was magic.
*(We had names for everyone so we could talk about them, in front of, without detection. I never said I was nice. Helmet head is the only other name I remember from that class. This lady’s hair (which put the hardness of a tortoise sell to shame) was trying to walk through a door, and her helmet hair didn’t clear and she stumbled and almost fell over. I still cannot think about that and not laugh-yes, I am mean-established-let’s move on please.)
Red Flag: Most Companies know enough to separate sales people from the rest of the Company. We are obnoxious, care very little about anything that doesn’t pertain to us making money, and are pretty vocal about it. They put the device engineers in our training for a few days. Big mistake. This was the first time this Company ever had a sales force and we were pretty sure after our class there may not be a second class. One of the engineers was a really sweet, soft spoken, middle aged African American man. He was the only one that was nice to the three of us.
They decided to give us all a tour of the facility (think small kids on a field trip but they have better listening skills and self-control). When a Company makes sterile products that are used in the OR, there is a highly controlled process in which they have to be made and sealed. People who work in that room have to wear bunny suits. Oh yes, it’s a second bunny suit story. At least these people knew to leave their clothes on under the bunny suit, so there’s that.
Dana, Ambien Excuses and I were pulling up the rear of this tour. I had reached my learning threshold four days earlier, so all bets were off. Everyone else was about an average hallway length away from us. We stop at the window where workers from the factory were packaging product and Dana screams and points: “Oh look, it’s the nice engineer from our training, and he looks so cute in his bunny suit. He’s the only one who’s nice to us.” She’s banging on the window, waving like a maniac. I look at Dana and without thinking (shocking), I say, “Christ Dana, take off your hood already, there is more than on African American guy that works for the Company, and the guy from our class is right up there (pointing to the rest of our class up ahead).
The three of us were laughing so hard coupled with lack of sleep and brain fry, I literally fell to the ground (which I have been known to do if I can’t control my laughter). It was the best/worst case of church laughter I have ever had. We later told the guy from our class that story and he laughed and said, “Well, Dana wasn’t far off, there are only two of us in the Company, and we both work in engineering with white bunny suits, I think it’s part of the company conversion program.” And with that, the inner bitchs in both of us bonded over a bunny suit; and, eventually became the best of friends.
*The top picture is of the two of us in Vegas. We were the first to arrive for our annual girl’s weekend, two days ahead of the other girls (yes, two full days ahead, was in hindsight, a tragic mistake). We made a new rule after that mistake, no more than 48 hours in Vegas. The two of us ended up in the Hard Rock bowling alley suite with about 30 of our new best friends. Did you know there was an actual hotel guest room below the bowling alley? We found out when the room valet (I mean who goes to Vegas and doesn’t have a room valet? This clearly was not our room) asked, “How long is the little one going to keep bowling? The people below want to go to sleep.” I was the ‘little one,’ only in the sense I’m shorter than Dana, who is taller and thinner. I had been trying to get a turkey (three strikes-please don’t ask how I know that), but relented when I found out 1. that people actually sleep in Vegas 2. there were people below the bowling alley 3. if you get a ‘free room’ at the Hard Rock make sure it’s not the one below the bowling alley.