I’d have done almost anything to get out of driving a tractor, especially after the fiasco of the Hydro pole. My parents-in-law had signed on as Amway representatives and figured it was a great opportunity for us, too. Their up-line directors were a pair of persuasive, strikingly attractive optimists who assured us Amway was the answer to our prayers and would see us through the next several years of university not only hunger-free but set for life. They showed us the program and how to go about signing up the rest of the planet so all could enjoy the financial freedom to determine their own paths.
Of course, all of this was before I really knew what made me tick. That I basically craved alone time more than my daily bread. That I couldn’t sell my way out of a paper bag. That I’d rather slide naked down a thirty-foot razor blade than convince somebody else they could succeed at something few others had.
I loaded my green Dodge Dart with product and set out to conquer the world one box of laundry detergent at a time. I started with Amaranth residents I’d known since childhood and made my presentations from the handy carrying case containing a variety of household and personal products. Most folks were kind-hearted enough to order a bottle of dish soap or a can of mosquito repellent or some vitamins. But we all knew the big money was made in signing new recruits who could then sell the product while I continued to sign more new recruits. Some listened politely, giving me a chance to rehearse my spiel.
My one memorable moment of those days has little to do with Amway. I called on Mrs. Cooper, my Grade One teacher from 13 years earlier. She seemed thrilled to see me and we sipped tea while she sorted through her cookie recipes.
“Do you know a good recipe for gingersnaps?” she asked. “I like the soft kind.”
Of all the crazy things to be carrying in one’s purse, for some strange reason mine held a recipe card that day. Only one. It was for gingersnaps—the soft kind. She copied my recipe in her beautiful penmanship as we laughed about the crazy odds.
(I figured Mrs. Cooper was about ninety-nine years old at the time. I couldn’t have guessed that over thirty years later I’d enjoy the privilege of preparing a letter to her from the Mayor of Portage la Prairie on the occasion of her one hundredth birthday.)
Somehow, I sold enough product to convince Hubby and his parents I was a natural at Amway. At least it kept me off the tractor.
We returned to Texas for the next school year and began spending evenings and weekends trying to convince our fellow students that they, too, could take advantage of this amazing opportunity. We began attending regular pep rallies with other Amway people in a neighbouring town and I began to wonder whether the cost of gas was worth the weekly shot in the arm. More money was going out than in. Rent came due and our cupboards stood bare. Weeks went by and we hadn’t signed up a single person. I was almost hungry enough to swallow the sample products in my handy carrying case.
One day I decided I’d had enough of selling and it was time to put my waitressing experience to use. I would apply at every restaurant and not stop until somebody hired me. By the end of the day, I’d landed a front-counter job at McDonalds where I figured I’d never again have to convince anyone to buy something they didn’t want.
But that’s a story for another day. Here's the cookie recipe: