BINGO

That warm day in May the boulevard was not very crowded as I drove up and down looking for my next target. Being in outside sales is tough, and being new is even tougher. You don’t have a list of monthly regulars to draw on and you hope to land a new business before some one else does. It’s the game and that’s how it’s played.

The only advantage to being a girl in sales is sometimes when your shirt is cut a little lower or that extra button is undone, at least the manager will talk to you. This of course, doesn’t mean he will buy from you either but at least he’s listening, or pretending to. On this day I chose a cute white sweater with a keyhole neckline and some navy pinstriped pants. I’m telling you, it matters.

As I passed the Nissan Place a bright red, white and blue sign caught my eye on the left hand side. BINGO was spelled out across the old building but being I’d lived here my whole life, I knew it was something recent. Passing it up, I made a quick UTurn by Jade Palace  and headed back to the BINGO sign.

Looking in the mirror and making sure my make up was right, I fought back some tears. Going through a divorce is hard, my kids were scared and so was I. This job meant a lot and making some sales meant even more. The last thirteen years of my life were gone and now I was starting over, into a world where I had never lived without either my parents or my husband. I was 30 years old but I may as well have been 17, figuring out how to navigate through life.

I pushed back those tears and adjusted my mirror back. I got out of the car and put on a smile, there were sales to be made and bingo halls made lots of money, right? They needed our demographic of listeners, the country music lovers of the world played bingo, didn’t they?

As I walked through the door, there sat the person we sales people rarely see, the illusive owner. For a salesperson, that’s money. You don’t have to hope the manager shows him your special of the month and you may get to interview him and really get a good feel for the business. I rubbed my hands on my pinstriped navy blue pants to make sure they weren’t clammy and walked on up to the table.

Jade Palace chicken fried rice wafted over and although I hated Chinese I just smiled and introduced myself and he asked me to sit. We talked about Bingo Halls and radio and demographics and how I didn’t look old enough to have an 11 year old. He made me laugh and was very open to me making a spec spot for his business.

I wanted it to be just right, the spec spot; I put in all the highlights we had discussed. I made sure the music was just right and that in that 30 seconds, the listener would know they had to visit his bingo hall versus the others that decorated that side of town. I watched his face as he listened to the spot and I could tell he was impressed. So much so, he would fill out an application for credit and think about running it on our new station that would debut the following month.

Being the keen salesperson I was, I went through the application with him and noticed we had the same email carrier. This was mentioned in small talk and I closed out the visit by letting him know I would submit the application and be in touch. I felt pretty good about it because I felt that if this drew response, this would be one of my first regular accounts I had scored on my own. This would prove I could make it on my own, I could do this thing.

Weeks went by and I continued to visit the client, it always seemed to be bad timing financially or not a good fit for what they were looking to do but it was always a good time. There was always laughter and jokes and I never left there feeling like I was defeated because there wasn’t a purchase. I was patient, and knew I would land the client at some point.

The client, on the other hand, had other ideas. He wasn’t interested in radio, he was interested in spec spots or commercials. He would just ooh and ahh over whatever I brought in and pretend that in the next week he would have the money, all the while he was trying to land something entirely different.  The subject of our email came up again one day and he asked if he could email me. Somehow, this ended up in us talking on the phone for hours on end and going to dinner at O’Charlies.

From that day, he had my heart.  The Shelly who was going to be wild and free after my divorce just faded away and all I wanted was this life with him. It wasn’t the life I was used to, one filled with teenage band, color guard kids sleeping on your living room floor and sleeping on gym floors on air mattresses was not what I had envisioned for my newly single self.

It’s been almost eight years since that day in May where I held back the tears and smiled to try and sale a radio ad to some stranger. I smile at my desk as I listen to Cooper cooing in her crib, waking up from this afternoon nap. Where the years have gone, I don’t know. There have been good times and bad times for sure but I’ve never been more thankful for the BINGO sign on Fort Campbell Blvd. than I am today, surrounded by love and life and the magic of who we are and where we’ve came from.

So one day, Cooper can read these words and know that her Dad and Mom fell in love because of BINGO, the radio and of course, that white sweater.

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