Monday, June 22, 2009


Well in the past week I've read Pearl by Mary Gordon, Harvest and The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen (internist turned mystery writer) and The Tempest Tales by Walter Mosely.

The Tempest Tales
wasn't the best but the premise of the story was interesting. A black man is killed by the police in a case of mistaken identity. When he gets to St. Peter he is told he has to go to hell because of some of the things he's done. He refuses which upsets everyone because up until now no-one has questioned a sentence. As a result an accounting Angel is sent down to earth to live as a mortal and Tempest is returned to earth in another body to convince the Angel that he should not go to hell. Everything is progressing in an interesting manner until Basel Bob shows up to add another threat to Tempest and the Angel named Joshua.

Tess Gerritsen is a former MD who writes mystery novels set in the medical community. I found her by wandering around in the fiction section looking for a mystery writer with a long line of books.(I've read all of Sara Paretsky's books including the essays and Bloody Kansas; all the Sherri S. Tepper's and Lia Matera's Roger L. Simon's and almost all the Walter Mosely's so I am desperate.) I read Harvest first because it was her first book and planned to continue in chronological order but at a Flea Market over the weekend I found The Surgeon. This is her sixth book and moved a lot faster than the first one. I am going back to the library for more today. I don't even want to tell you the plots because even a few sentences could spoil them for you.

Pearl is the story of a young woman who goes on a hunger strike and chains herself to the American Embassy in Ireland after a friend dies. The other main characters are Pearls single forceful mother and the son of Pearl's father's former housekeeper who is also the executor of his will since Maria (Pearl's mother) and her father were not speaking at the time of his death. I thought Maria was going to get the short end of the stick since she comes across as a force of nature and people are normally put off by that but I was happy with the ending. It really made me cry though. I hope I never have to see my kids in the hospital with tubes all over them near death. I'm not all that familiar with the problems in Northern Ireland but the ethnic, political and religious backgrounds of the main characters meshing in that setting make an interesting story.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I got a phone call last week from a financial services company asking me if I was interested in coming in for an interview. Since I am currently unemployed I said yes so on Thursday morning I drove down to a strip office center about 15 minutes away not sure what to expect.

The hallway was long and dark. I found the suite number and entered a small room with a receptionist where I was asked to sign in and have a seat in another room. I entered a large room with several small offices around it. There were about 20 folding chairs set up in front of a desk and a a large pad on an easel. I took a seat and a man who turned out to be the owner of the company handed me some literature to look over. Eventually 4 other people also came in -all men. The job turned out to be sales for an insurance agency. We heard a spiel about how successful you can be selling supplemental health insurance to people over 65 since 1 person turned 65 every 15 seconds. If you make 15-20 appointments per week and get 2 sales per week you can make between $40-$60,000 the first year. Commissions range from $400 for senior life insurance policies to $9000 for annuities. You can do all this by calling 200 people a week.

We heard about the inadequacy of Medicare, the shame attached to having to go on Medicaid after having worked all your life, the uncertainty of the current stock market and how that is playing havoc with everyone's life savings. Basically you are preying on people's fear.

This is not something I care to do but it was worth going to check it out. After outlining the products we heard about the 12 agents currently working for the company who come from all walks of life; how the only limit on your earning power is you...very inspirational... then a parting remark, "Who else is calling you? How many calls did you get this week?" and a laugh. It was almost cult-like or like buying a car. We were asked to fill out a questionnaire listing 3 questions we would ask at our interview and to make an appointment for a one-on-one interview with the receptionist on the way out. She asked if I would like to come back the following day but I said, "I don't think so." "You'll call?" she asked.

You would also have to use your own laptop, buy your own business cards, calculator, map, planner, direct mail leads, stamps and envelopes and dress in suits.

It was an interesting experience.