The value of an idea lies in the using of it.
- Thomas Edison
Back in April 2011, I had just graduated Teacher's College from University of Western Ontario. I couldn't apply for any jobs until the summer and the odds of me getting something were slim-to-none. All of you teachers out there know that it's near impossible to snag a teaching job right out of school so I began my search for a summer job.
My sisters, Linzi and Rayelle, had a spare room for me in their downtown Toronto apartment in the Queen and Broadview area; a street over from Degrassi.
Shout-out to the east end as I don't think that it gets enough love! It's less hustle and bustle with a pace and vibe that's just cool and easy-going. Also, it's close enough to the downtown core that you don't feel too far from the rest of the city. To this day, I still get the heart-warming feelings of nostalgia welling up in me when I visit the area.
My living quarters were awesome but my job search sucked. There was nothing out there that got me excited to work for the summer and possibly beyond since I had a better chance at making the NBA than getting a teaching job in September.
So I did what any other broke kid with no job does. I called Mom (Pia). I asked her if she knew of anyone looking to hire a poor student out of school.
In between her entrepreneurial ventures, Pia has been a contractual accountant, mainly specializing in bankruptcies. At the time, she had just been hired on to dissolve a company in Markham that designed and distributed home decor across North America. With bankruptcies, comes collections. She figured I could help in this area so I started the following week!
I did my part calling, emailing, and following up with businesses that had past-due invoices that needed to be paid ASAP. As you may have guessed, calling a complete stranger and asking for them to pay an outstanding bill is not exactly fun. People cussed at me, hung up on me, or just straight-up lied to me with some of the lamest excuses you've ever heard. Again, wasn't the most fun, but beggars can't be choosers - I had a job and it was helping out my mom with hers.
Later into the summer, I was assigned to do odd jobs other than collections. This company had sample sales twice a year that were absolutely bananas. Their mailing list would get a notice of a weekend sale and they would be lined up around the block to shop. They were having one last sample sale and I was asked to help with set-up and restock as items got low.
One of the best-selling products at these sales were the decorative pillows. When I say best-selling, I'm saying people went absolutely crazy for these things. I'm sure the main attraction was that they we were going for $10 and $15 but they were really good-quality covers that would sell for $45 to $65 at retail and we had a big selection to choose from.
On the final day, I was there with my mom for four-straight hours filling pillow covers for customers that were pushing and shoving each other in order to get the discounted pillows they wanted so badly. You would have thought that we were hocking $100 bills for a buck.
Unfortunately, we didn't even have a table or barrier when we were filling the pillows for customers so our personal space was non-existent. I had people so close to me, I knew what they had for lunch. I would constantly be reminding people to back up so I could breathe: "I am going to have to ask you to back up a little but and be patient, you will get your pillows!" It was like a Black Friday sale at an American Wal-Mart. Well, maybe not that bad...but close.
This was my introduction to the world of energetic shoppers looking for a really good deal. As well, this was the first time Pia and I saw how much people loved decorative pillows. Maybe there was something to it...