The summer after high school I sold Fuller Brushes. They gave me the
worst n'hoods, a n'hood which had had an unreliable salesman, who took
orders but didn't deliver (He didn't steal any money. He wasn't to
get paid for the stuff until he delivered, and to a lot of people he
just didn't deliver) and a n'hood that was just built and had no
experience with Fuller Brush unless they had it somewhere else.
A guy stopped me on the street and after finding out I sold Fuller
Brushes, he offered me a job canvassing for leads for aluminum siding.
If they didn't want siding, he also sold this siding stuff that looks
something like asphalt shingles, but comes in a big sheet and is made
to look like bricks. I'm sure you've all seen it.
He offered me 50 or 100 dollars for every aluminum siding job I got.
I sort of liked Fuller Brush, so we traded phone numbers.
While I was at work, he called and got my mother, and she negotiated
for me to 150 dolllars for every alumininum siding job, some
percentage I don't remember (2%, 5% ?) for anything else, and 40
dollars a week (unspoken, but I assumed that was for a 40 hour week,
which was the most common work week in 1964.)
I didn't have to make the sale, only give him a lead, and I was to get
paid the above if he made the sale, (except for the base 40 dollars
that was for the 40 hours I put in.)
SO MY QUESTION IS, WHAT WOULD A TYPICAL SALARY/COMMISSION PLAN BE FOR
SOMEONE WITH A JOB LIKE MINE, in 1964?
Would it have been all commission, and was the dollar an hour base
uncommon? Or would most people have insisted on some base pay, like
I'm sure the guys at Lowes get?
I really wasn't interested in the job based on what he offerred me
when he met me, but after my mother negotiated for me, I took a break
from Fuller Brush.
As it turned out, I got no leads the first day. Worked 10 hours the
second day in a different part of town, and got one weak lead. I
think it was the third day in a third part of town that I had been
going door to door for 3 or 4 hours before a homeowner told me that
the xway was coming through the n'hood and everything was going to be
torn down. No one else had mentioned that. The guy picked the
location every day. I had my own car. I finished the 8-hour day
The fourth day, the guy said, Well, you've worked the south side, the
east side, and the north side. Let's try the west side. I don't
really think it was the direction from the center of town that made
the difference, but I did what he said.
It was disheartening to work all day and get no real leads. Maybe
someone else would have been better at it. We both got tired of this
after the fourth or fifth day. I had given him one or two more weak
but he didn't want to pay me my 32 or 40 dollars, I forget how
I told him I wanted to see his boss, and he readily agreed. He told
the boss the truth except he said that the 40 dollars was for a 6-day
week. I told the boss I had never heard of a 6Úy week for an hourly
employee, or something like that. (I guess my mother had really been
the one who discussed this, but I know for a fact she would never have
signed me up for a 6-day week. And I'm sure I discussed this with her
afterwards.) The boss told him to pay me the base pay. (32 or 40, for
32 or 40 hours whichever I had worked) and he did. I had no idea who
the boss was before I got there, but I recognized the name and I think
the boss knew my grandfather, or my uncle, or my uncle's friend, or
maybe even my mother a little bit. But I don't think it was
believable that I had agreed to a six-day week**
*, for a job like
this, so, I don't think that made any difference.
*Especially when the base pay was 40 dollars. That's not even
evenly divisible by 6.
which I later went back to make sure if they bought sometighing or
not, because I didn't trust him anymore. None of them had bought
Then I went back to Fuller Brush until the end of the summer.