Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Call Centres and Sao Paulo Fashion Week!

As I flew into Sao Paulo 10 months ago, I arrived here safe in the knowledge that I had a job lined up. I was going to be working in an office, selling financial services on the phones for an investment company. My job would be to speak to (well...to speak to/harass!) Brazilian business men and women, and ask them if they were interested in investing their money in things like retirement plans, portfolio bonds or saving for their kid’s education. Looking back, I have absolutely no idea why I genuinely thought a career in personal finance would be a good move (for a former drama student like myself!) But nevertheless, it got me over to Brazil, and I really threw myself into the job....and lasted almost a full 3 months!!!


This would be my daily routine; I would arrive at work and call someone, to ask (using a script) if they wanted to invest their money into a company they had never heard of. After they had told me where to go, I would then call the next person on my list. Then, when they told me ‘thanks, but no thanks’, I would call the next person. Maybe a few times a day someone would say ‘yes’ to a meeting later in the week.


Often when the ‘wealth manager’ got there, it would become clear the person who had agreed to the meeting hadn’t really understood what it was about! (I did send a ‘wealth manager’ to a meeting once, in a recording studio. Turns out the singer was confused. There was someone offering him life insurance, and was expecting some funding for his latest reggae CD!) I would do this all day, from 8.30am-6pm. The job was commission based, and I was told if I worked hard, booked a lot of meetings for the company’s ‘wealth managers’ to attend, and put the hours in...I could be earning a decent amount of money.


Well....to cut a long story short, this wasn’t how it worked at all!


I was often topping the office leader board for the amount of meetings booked each week, and still, I was earning.....very little. My salary was dependant on how well these ‘wealth managers’ were able to sell these plans. And in about 3 months, I earned just over £400. That’s right...whilst I was doing this job, at the same time there were probably kids in sweat shops all over Asia out-earning me! After almost 3 months of repeating the same script, being told ‘no’, and earning very little money....one day it hit me....this really was not the job for me! I was working as an English teacher on an evening, so I took this up full time...and have been a teacher here ever since.


Whilst the telesales job might have sucked big, donkey balls....I can’t deny that maybe the best thing I’ve done in Brazil so far came off the back of it. Blagging my way into Sao Paulo Fashion Week!


Working in a call centre and attending fashion events don’t link so well together, so let me explain! I was at work, having called a few people...I was bored, sat poking people on Facebook and checking out the news pages online, then I saw the fashion week was in town. This event is the 4th biggest fashion week in the world, and I was looking at pictures from the day before, and saw Paris Hilton modelling some slutty dress! At work, my boss always told us we should go to corporate events, to try and network and get peoples numbers (then piss them off by calling, and trying to sell them retirement plans!) So I asked my boss if me and my mate Joe could take the afternoon off work and go, and he reluctantly agreed.


First my mate Joe called up, and they said to him it was invitation only...and not open to the public. I wasn’t having that though; I was well up for the afternoon off! So I called back and told them I worked for Style magazine in London, and that me and my colleague had just flown into the country, and were disappointed to find out our passes hadn’t arrived at the hotel. Our bloody editor hadn’t organised them had she!!!

“No problem Andrew, just come down and I’ll meet you both outside and sort you out with media passes!” I was shitting it when we met this woman at the door, and when she started asking questions about the ‘piece’ we were writing about. I managed to keep my cool, and secure our passes! I thought we might be able to go around, have a look, and then be done in a few hours....but this woman had other ideas! She escorted us past the lines of people outside the runway show, and got us seats to one of the designer’s summer collections. So me and my mate were sat there, watching these anorexic looking models strutting round in hideous clothes nobody would ever wear, wondering how the hell we managed to get in!

After this, this woman dragged us over to a guy, told this guy about our ‘article’...and then informed us we could interview him for a few minutes (“You what luv! Interview him!?!”). He was from GQ magazine, so I got my pad of paper out and started asking him loads of questions about his take on fashion in Brazil.


He just looked at me, and said “I’m so sorry, can we do this tomorrow....I’m so drunk right now, I can barely see straight! Why don’t we all head to the Vogue lounge and have some drinks instead!” So we went, and had pleasant chats about the summer collections we had just seen....whilst downing free champagne! Then out of nowhere, this woman dragged us off again, but this time got us front row seats for the next runway show. After this show, we were in the Elle lounge, drinking champagne, chatting to a writer from Glamour magazine....when she said “Andrew, I’m really interested in what you thought about the summer collection on the last runway!”


I looked at her, then at my mate Joe, and then back at her.....I had absolutely no clue what to say! “Erm....I’ll be totally honest with you, I thought those designs were...ugly!!!”



“Oh my God, I’m so glad someone said that! The clothes did nothing to flatter a women’s physique....I just don’t think the designer gets women at all!” Of course, I agreed with her, and me and Joe then went to the next magazine lounge for some more drinks...before she had chance to ask us anymore questions!


The woman in charge once again appeared from nowhere, and got us seats at the front of the next show. Me and Joe were a little drunk at this point, sat there through a Halloween inspired collection! All very different to the clothes I see in H&M and Top Man!


As a journalist for the afternoon, the highlight of my career was having a fashion blogger tell me that, not only had she read Style magazine, but that she was familiar with my work! Amazing!!!


I’d never considered attending a fashion show before this...they are basically just an excuse for a big piss up!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Now then!

So this year, I decided to start up my own blog. I figured it would be a good way for me to keep track of what I get up to, and it also gives me the opportunity to share with you guys what life is like, over here in the land of the samba. After my McDonalds Big Mac this week, and letting watching an episode of Jersey Shore win over going for a run in the park...I figured it’s time to finally get my ass into gear, and fulfil my last remaining new year’s resolution. This blog!


Just to fill you in on what I’ve been up to in the past year, last April I returned to the UK after a four year teaching stint in Japan. After almost 3 weeks at home, it was time to pack up, and head over to Brazil! I have been here since, where I currently work as an English teacher...so onto my job, I teach early in the morning (it is not unusual for me to be sat in an office, starting class at 7.30am), during lunch breaks, or when the business day has finished. I guess I work on average between 3-4.5 hours a day, and, well, I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m not too keen on the thought of heading back home to work full time hours just yet!


I live in an apartment that is on the same floor as an opticians, and at least once a month someone will try to follow me into my apartment, thinking I too, am going in for an eye inspection!!! “No love, the opticians is that one over there, the one with the big sign in front of it!”



Under the block of flats I live in, is a butchers shop. I’m not sure why, but there is always music pumping out of a knackered old sound system from there, to entice people in. The music is always turned up just that little bit too loud, so the bass drowns out the music. Like a 17 year old boy racers car stereo! It serves its purpose though, as it seems to help attract a steady stream of elderly Brazilian’s. They love the bass over here!


I also live opposite a church, and there is a small square in front of this building. This is where, during the day, the tramps come to chill out. You can’t walk too far around Sao Paulo without seeing homeless people, but during the day, a lot more of them than usual like to gather opposite my place.


About a month ago, I was on my way out to work, when the butchers had Katy Perry blaring out into the square. I looked over at the tramps, and saw them all up on their feet, dancing...like they were on an amazing night out.


They may well have been covered in their own shite, off their tits on drugs, and in need of a good feed (not too unlike the Amadeus on a Saturday night!)...but they looked like they were having the time of their lives! And thats when it hit me, as I was walking to class in my freshly ironed shirt, with material ready to talk about prepositions....I had tramp envy! As I pass them on my way to work, I often wonder what they talk about every day....they just seem to either be sitting around, playing cards, drinking beer or just relaxing....but still, each time I pass them, they are engrossed in conversation. They even have a big red, flea ridden sofa, parked outside the church, to chill on. It is big enough for about 4.


Like the opening credits of a poor man’s Friends.



Anyway, my blog is now up and running....so you can expect some regular updates!