Knowing a lot on a subject can be ‘dangerous’ but not when you can think fast on your feet….
Occasionally if you are working for a boss and you have a little bit more knowledge on a subject and the boss is not aware of it, you may be troubled by your conscience when the product you are pushing is not what it seems to be.
But you are working hard for the money and all the boss wants is sales, sales and nothing but sales. So what if he asks you to peddle a fake product of which he thinks you have no knowledge of it. And he mimics the Nike slogan with a slight change, “Just Sell It”.
Now I am not going to argue about the morality of it. Morality is a function of circumstances, maybe, depends on how you interpret it. You might just have to do it when you are earning some small dollar change per hour especially when you are just an order taker and the boss say so.
My daughter was 17 when I packed her off to New York City to do her Graduate Gemologist at GIA. Let us called her MoneyLena. Now ML is not your usual girl next door, thinking of proms, of boyfriends and of Saturday parties. She had a tight fist for money and a real hardworking girl. She had traveled to many countries before and was wise to the ways when strangers accosted her.
On a cold January morning in 2001 she landed at JFK Airport in NYC and was picked up by my long time friend. On the second week she was knocking on doors in Chinatown at Tribeca looking for part time jobs as school had not started yet. Not long after, she was busing tables at a Japanese restaurant, shoving envelopes at a mail order company and taking down orders at a Chinese take-away restaurant. She spoke Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Malay fluently. Then she found a week-end job at a small Jewelry company owned by an ABC whose family originally was from Hong Kong.
There were already some part time sales girls. Over at the Big Apple they were called Sales Associates, big honorific titles but paying some peanuts. After acquainting herself with the shop’s jewelry products she was the star sales lady as she had the gift of the gap and could talk the hind legs of a donkey. Walk-in customers were naturally attracted towards her because of her fluency in languages. Now the boss was not aware of her background. She would not have gotten half her foot through the Jewelry Shop if she told the boss that her old man was in the jade trade. She had been sorting jade when she was 8 years and she could tell you a fake from a genuine one when she just held onto the jade piece.
She wore a beautiful green bangle, of course a genuine one. It was one of the quirks of customers that they wanted the same type of jewelry that the boss wore or the sales associates wore as they related it that they knew best.
Before long customers were asking for Jade bangles….
Her shrewd boss was quick to see the demand and immediately FedEx-ed a consignment of 30 jade bangles from Hong Kong.
On a fine Saturday morning, a quite well-to-do Japanese tourist lady came in, saw the jade bangle that ML was wearing and immediately wanted one for herself. On display at the retail counter were 3 of the most beautiful vivid colored bangles – 2 apple green and 1 lavender. Now the boss only displayed 3 pieces as putting up more on the retail counters were a sure put-away when customers had too much choices. There was also an acrylic sign that announced loudly that there were Genuine Burmese Jade Bangles.
ML was serving the customer then. The Japanese lady picked up the green one and it fit her small waist snugly. The price tag was $1,200.00 and she quickly got a real bargain at 50%. It was a matter of closing the sale, taking the money or credit card, issuing receipt and they were done for the transaction.
She enquired from ML: “Is this a real genuine jade bangle?”
Now ML was caught in between a hard place and a rock. She knew these bangles were ‘faked’, polymer-impregnated jade worth about $20 a piece in Hong Kong or China. Her old man had admonished her before that if you sold a fake jewelry it might come back to haunt you even after many years. Though she was just a low hourly paid sales staff far down the food-chain, she had to make the call.
Her quick thinking saved the day.
“Hi Boss, this lady customer enquire whether the jade bangle is real?” she called to the Boss sitting at the cashier’s counter counting the day’s take.
Her Boss answered confidently: “Of course, the jade bangle is real. 100% guaranteed.”
“Yes Ma’am, boss said the bangle is real”
Transaction done, sales closed at $600, cash paid, receipt written as ‘Jade Bangle’ and the lady was happy with the jade.
The boss got 6 Ben Franklin greenbacks while ML received $30 as her commission. Another bangle was replaced and the Boss looked forward to another mark.
All in a day’s work as a sales associate……