I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Door to Door Solar

After goofing off for weeks and months and (groan) years, my bank account and I decided that it was high time I get a job. Plus, unlike many parts of the world where "work" is an abstract idea, in our corner of the first world people tend to look down on those who do not commit themselves to making money for 40+ hours a week. Not that this notion was my main motivation for getting a job, but I also  realized/remembered that in order to participate and function in our society one needs money. And lots of it. 

So, where does one begin the arduous journey of searching for and landing oneself a job? Why, Craigslist, of course. Along with finding great deals on surfboards, housing, roommates, and potential life-long (or one night) partners, Craigslist is the place to go. 

Within a few weeks of answering ads and attending fewer interviews, I landed myself a job with a cool San Francisco start-up that recently opened offices in San Diego. The company, Gen110, is on a mission to provide inexpensive solar energy to every home in the greater San Diego area. While I was away I hadn't realized that the solar industry has absolutely exploded in California, and inadvertently found myself surfing the wave of an energy revolution. (Cliche? Yes. Kidding? No.)

While my job with Gen110 is a "real" job, it is not a traditional job in the 9-to-5, desk and office sense. When I first realized it was a canvassing job -- going door to door with the intention of getting money out of people -- I groaned. But then I thought, "if I can do this I can do anything, so I might as well go for it." Technically, we Outreach Specialists with Gen110 are not selling anything when we go door to door, merely "qualifying homes for a government financed on-site electricity program" but I certainly have salesman blood in me, and it is high time I embraced it.

I have always pitied people going door to door, selling me things I don't want -- be it religion, double pained windows or magazine subscriptions. I could never fathom how somebody could withstand so much rejection, so much standing and so much boredom. But now I can safely say, speaking from experience, that going door to door is never, ever boring.

You can imagine all the weirdos we run into, the little glimpses into peoples' lives we see. On my very first day out in the field, on my very first door, a man answered who was obviously drunk. I went through my opening script and stuck out my hand to shake his. He looked at my hand, smiled, licked his hand and then proceeded to shake mine. I was so shocked and so nervous (being my first door ever) that the only thing I could do was shake hands. I have since bought a bottle of hand sanitizer that I take with me.

The different responses we get are interesting. Most people are "not interested" even though they have no idea what we are there for. Of the people who are interested most are skeptical, not believing that they can actually be upgraded to solar energy at no cost to them. But every once in while you get that gem, that person who is so nice and excited about solar that if you told them they had to give you their first born child in order to qualify, they would seriously consider it. For the record, we don't accept children as payment, just a small, fully refundable Gen110 application fee.

Like any job, some days are tough -- it is hard not to take rejection or aggression personally. Some days are great -- people are stoked on our program and sign up en mass. On those days it is easy to laugh at people who get mad at us for trying to hook them up with cheap, clean energy. We get lots of your typical middle-America, older couples asking if this is the "so-lar" and yelling us because we interrupted them while they were watching Bill O'Reilly. However, I have been impressed with the positive response we have gotten in predominantly conservative, military and NRA lovin' neighborhoods. It helps that we have a solid team with good leaders who look out for all of us.

Like I said before, I never understood how people -- particularly people selling religion -- could stand to go door to door, being rejected over and over. Since I started working this job I have come to realize that when somebody believes in what they do, when they genuinely believe that they are improving the state of the world by sharing their religion/beliefs/program, the rejection doesn't matter. Those few that they connect with in a week, a month or a year makes it all worth it. 

And the same goes for going door to door selling solar energy. I strongly believe that what we at Gen110 are doing is good for the individual, the community and the world at large. The way we live now is not sustainable, the status quo is not okay, and this is a step in the right direction. Granted, solar energy might not be the best clean energy option in the future, but for now it is a great alternative to traditional power sources. 

Yes, it feels good to work again, particularly to work toward a good cause. It is nice to be a part of a team and to have structure in my life again. Weekends are more meaningful and, although I don't have much free time, I can afford to do fun things again. If everything goes to plan, my first "real job" purchase will be a bitchin' 9'7 Robert August classic noserider longboard that I will be sure to tell you ALL about.