By George Rose
October 7, 2009
Death of a Salesman (1985 – TV)
There are many incarnations of Death of a Salesman. My personal favorite is video of a theater production that I watched back in college during a Theater and Society class I took. However, for the sake of this article, I will recommend an easier version for you to find at the rental store (or Netflix, or for download). I feel compelled to suggest this title because I spent most of today (Monday, October 5th) going on two different job interviews. Both jobs were found on Monster.com and seemed like great jobs. That was until I went to the interview and found out the positions were for door-to-door "lead generators." Are you kidding me? People that aren't Jehovah's Witnesses still go door to door? The sad thing is their online application stressed "no telemarketing, no cold calls!" As a college marketing major, I must say that was probably the worst misleading advertising I had ever seen. It's only okay to promote the absence of an unattractive job attribute when there isn't one present that's drastically less appealing! I guess this recession is allowing any shady business model to succeed.
In any case, after spending the entire day driving between these two interviews (both were an hour away from my house, but in opposite directions), I couldn't help but feel like Death of a Salesman's Willie Lohman (Emmy winner Dustin Hoffman). No, I wasn't actually a traveling salesman but I sure did travel a lot for one day and the jobs I accidentally interviewed for were bogus sales pitch positions. Either way, Willie Lohman hated his life and wanted to kill himself. I understood why before but now I truly feel his pain. Granted, I don't have a wife (played by Kate Reid) or two sons (Emmy winner John Malkovich and Stephen Lang) adding to my stress, but my family is no walk in the park. Everyone is stressed and everyone feels the weight of this disappointing economy and job market. However, watching Willie's family deal with the realization that he wants to kill himself is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.
No matter what incarnation of the story you watch (movie, TV or play) you are bound to enjoy the story. Death of a Salesman is a classic! Even I'm willing to admit that and you should know how much I hate the idea of the term "classic." During my first interview today, one of the hiring managers asked me if I would mind doing the door-to-door lead generation. I had no intention of taking the job but to avoid confrontation I told him, "It's not like I'll be doing this forever. I'm no Willie Lohman!" He actually got the joke and laughed! Then I said I would see them for the second round of interviews on Wednesday and proceeded to throw out his business card as soon as I got to the parking lot. The point is, this story truly is a classic in all senses of the word: people of multiple generations understand the story, share common interest in it, and each have their own modern, updated incarnation of it to enjoy. This recommendation is for all you Willie Lohmans in the world. May you rest in peace. I hate to say it but I'd rather be jobless than be you.