Tabby

I jumped on in June of 1997. We saw a "Fun in the sun" ad and I had just been evicted from my apartment. I had nothing better to do, so 2 friends and I went to a hotel room to meet w/ the ad runner. It was like a whirlwind and suddenly I was on a greyhound to Detroit. I realized later that I had been "slapped".

The first night was wonderful! We went to a bowling alley and got tore down drunk. Someone was always coming up to say Hi or share a bowl. I thought I had found my calling.

My first day on territory was OK. I had a girl walk me around and show me the ropes. It seemed simple enough. The whole philosophy of the company I worked for was, "I'm just a kid in a contest!" I can't say who I worked for because of a stupid confidentiality thing they made me sign.

My first day on my own I had a working car handler get me my first sale and after that I just kinda took off and sold 9 subscriptions. Everyone was real psyched and I felt incredible. They kept saying I was gonna be a "power agent".

When I got back to the hotel, I got a tidy draw and listened to the manager belittle everyone in the crew for being outwritten by a new girl. That was my first hint something was not right. As time went on, I didn't get as many sales, but I always high-termed everyone, so I still made plenty of money for the company. Sales were everything on mag crew. Even down to where you sat in the van! The front seat was coveted, it meant you controlled the radio AND got to smoke. The 2nd row was the comfort zone you got to smoke there too, but the 3rd and 4th rows were the disgraceful ones. Some of the agents wrote "dirty" business. Which encompassed everything from performing sexual acts to lying and saying U were from the local college and/or high school.

Every morning would start with a "motivational" meeting. Which consisted of chanting different sales slogans like "Start the day off right" We were told it was to pump us up. But in hindsight it seems to more closely resemble brainwashing. You were to shun those not making enough and retire to your bed at 10 pm if you didn't get 7 sales. There were also "games" they played to keep us "sharp." There was this thing that if you said can't, the nearest crew member would give you a geeb, which hurt like hell.

There were a lot of drugs on crew. The all time drug of choice was weed, which was OK w/ the bosses. But a few of the members got into crystal meth and one 15 year old kid was actually hospitalized from use. There were people who got hammered every night, spent their entire draw on beer.

Women were very sought after on crew. The ratio was about 8 guys for every girl. Relationships were not forbidden on my crew. God forbid you get pregnant though. I remember a girl getting an abortion through managerial coercion and selling mags the very next day.

My heart stopped when I heard about the crash. I myself have driver switched on several occasions and I did not have a license either. I see now it could have been me.

There was a wreck on our crew in WA state. This girl I knew was driving people to their drop site and right after she dropped me she got in a pretty nasty wreck. She sent someone who was standing by to find me. So I spent the rest of the evening contacting the crew boss, and getting everyone to the hospital. And could you believe when the boss's husband got to the hospital (4 hours later) I was yelled at for only having 5 sales! He actually asked me why I didn't try to sell while I was in the hospital waiting to see if my friends were OK!

The 12 hour workdays and 6 day workweeks were rough but everything was OK until Utah, where everything began to fall apart. The car handler that started my first day and I got together. We were in love instantly and inseperable. The managers were happy about it at first. Until I started asking too many questions. I started to realize how little money we were making for the amount of work we did. Little bits were also disappearing from my books here and there. I was also tiring of having my self worth based on the number of magazines I sold. I began to share my concerns with my boyfriend. Turns out he agreed with me. We began making plans to save all the money we could and jump off together. As with all secrets on mag crew, the word eventually got out about our plans. That's when my manager turned on me completely. I was dropped off in the most hopeless, stomped neighboorhoods they could come up with. From San Fran they formed a jump crew which seperated my boyfriend and I. I was driven to quit in Fresno, just 3 days before I was to reunite with my man. He was supposed to follow me, but never came. A friend I had who was on crew with me said he was blackmailed into staying, and he never was the same after that. So I boarded a greyhound bus with 10 bucks in my pocket, nowhere to go and a broken heart, which still isn't healed.

I spoke to my manager on the phone about a month later about getting a check for my books, which were around $800. As of today I still haven't seen a penny, though it was promised.

To this day I am haunted by my experience. I still see those ads in the paper a few times a year, and my heart breaks for those who are going to go and go through all I did. I DID get to see the country which I would have not gotten to do otherwise, and fall in love, probably the only time I ever truly will. But it just seems to me the price was way to high, my spirit died on that greyhound bus, and I'm not sure if I will ever regain it.

You have my permission to print this on your "True Stories" page. I want others to know the truth!