Before I had the interview I couldn't help but feel guilty about the possibility of letting them down. Given that it was the last week of 'Part-time', I would have to tell them that I could only work the four remaining days and that I would have to leave early on Friday to catch my train to Abergavenny for the Hen Weekend I had been invited to.
This thought preoccupied me from the first interview on Friday 14 July up until the exact moment I discovered what I had been lured into - door-to-door sales. Then I felt no guilt whatsoever.
We sat in the waiting room for a long while, there were at least ten other candidates in there. As we waited Trent FM blared out of a small stereo. Every five minutes the hideous radio adverts kicked in. As we sat there in silence, I was amused that two of these adverts directly addressed 'unemployed people', 'looking for work?', promoting job fairs that were forthcoming in the autumn.
I looked around the room as if to make eye contact and share the coincidence with one of my fellow job seekers, but nobody seemed to notice.
During the day, I tried my best to maintain my Log Book with the start and end times of each activity we undertook. I was desperate to take photographs - it would have been fantastic to have just one action shot of Barry going door-to-door, chatting with people, but I was too full of fear. I could be lynched if they found out what I was really up to.
On several occasions, Barry caught me writing in my Log Book. At first he jokingly commented 'you're not one of those undercover reporters are you?' I assured him that I was not and that I was simply making notes for my interview that evening with Chris. However the fact that Barry had asked this question in the first place, was rather telling.
- Had this happened to them before - an undercover reporter attending one of their training days and writing an expose?
- Or was Barry secretly admitting to the fact that there was a story here - that Endeva Advertising deserved to be exposed?
When Barry was convinced that there was nothing untoward with my note taking, he changed his tact - repeatedly suggesting that in actually fact 'you're writing my autobiography' (sic). He even told the others this over break.
At several points in the day, I expressed my anger at being dragged into this situation without pre-warning. At 'break time' Dave had the cheek to respond with this: 'the reason we do it like this is so that people get a real feel for the job, see exactly what we do, before they start work. Have you ever been to an interview for a job and then started the next day and discovered it was not what you thought it would be?' to which I replied 'yes! Today! I came to an interview on Friday for a job, which to all intent-and-purposes looked like an office job for a marketing company, and now here I am four days later training to be a door-to-door salesperson!'
I don't think me and Dave would ever see eye-to-eye. When he gave me 'the chat' at break time, he talked about training staff with sales skills. He explained that once you learned the skills you could sell anything you wanted: credit cards, electricity supplies, breakdown cover (all products marketed by other Cobra Group offices).
If you say so Dave, but it's one thing to go door-to-door trying to get people to sign up to a charity and quite another to get them to sign up to a credit card. Dave insisted that it was not, that it was exactly the same. He was not able to acknowledge that morally these to acts were wildly different.