Gathering at the Vatican: the Big Show

Skip the line! Skip the line! Hey you sir, why are you waiting in line? You can cut to the front on our VIP tour

This is the call that is heralded by Gatherers, as tourists attempt to make it through the Vatican sales gauntlet. Is it true? Kind of – but that doesn’t matter – the truth that is. What matters is the sale.

Working the Vatican as a Gatherer is kind of the modern day equivalent of being a gladiator sent to fight in the Colosseum; it is not for the faint of heart. You can expect to live in glory (and a full wallet), or to die swiftly and penniless in this dog eat dog sales arena. There is rejection, sales vultures waiting to steal your sale, barrages of Bangladeshis harassing your potentials leads into an unreceptive, bitter mood, and the police cracking down on undocumented workers when not striking, sipping espresso, smoking, yelling obscenities, cat calling women, or other official police business  – it is fantastic. Ancient Rome may have fallen but the games live on.

While the competition is a lot fiercer in this arena than on my first day, the reward is also a lot higher. At the Pantheon, I scored 5 euro per tourist I got on a tour, however, at the Vatican, that number can be anywhere from 8-12 euros per person. And just like womanizing late into the night at your local watering hole (not that I know anything about that), success has more to do with proper venue and target selection and numbers than your overall technical execution (sales ramble). Even the most polished of salesman will struggle if they choose the venue or targets poorly and do not approach enough.

The Venue

Do I work my sales hustle at the end of long ass Vatican queue so the tourists see how long the line is but risk having other Gatherers get to them first? Do I fight the undocumented sales horde who harass my leads into unresponsiveness and combativeness? Or should I post up near the entrance to the Vatican so as to have a fresh plain to attack the fresh meat? These are important questions. Every sales person has their own special formula. Mine apparently is how to make meager sales.

Gatherers line up the main promenade like whales waiting to scoop up as much plankton as possible

 

End of line – where dog eat dog is a way of life.

 

Sidewalk intersections make great choke points where tourists converge like schools of fish.

 

Captive audiences who wait at the cross walk can’t escape.

 

A Gatherer posts up after the cross walk free of competition

 

Eager for first crack at lunch? Posting up by the metro to get tourists before they start the gauntlet.

 

Not afraid of competition? Or just lazy and don’t give a shit? Try your luck with the rest of the Gatherers on the tourist trail to the Vatican.

The Targets

No offensive, but God I hate you motherfucking Americans. You – with your chinos and Rick Steves books – fuckers never let me get a word in.

This seasoned player knows all too well his ramble doesn’t go over well on the Rick Steves crowd. Does it stop him? No, he just acts more aggressively and assholish to get their attention. Does it work? Sometimes. Knowing your audience and who you appeal to is vital when deciding how to approach. All four of my sales were your average Americans – clad in NFL shirts and college football apparel – I merely just yelled out the name of the team, nodded my head along and waddled them over to my liaison   The 6-8 that I got away were also American or Australian, but I ran out of football trivia knowledge.  The Scandinavians wanted nothing to do with me – they didn’t like my look.

the Gatherer makes his move, attempting the walk and chat.

 

Despite fierce resistance, our hero hangs tough as his prey deny his advances

 

the happy newly weds get the info. on how to “skip the line”

This gather drops his ramble on some newly weds taking photos. No one is out of bounds in a sales hustle. You want to eat today? Then close the sale. But that is not even on top of the mind of a true salesman, that is a given, the true salesman actually thinks –

I will be improving their life so much by giving them the opportunity to go on our tour today. The wedding photos are not nearly as important as them enjoying one of our tours. They must understand how they too can skip the line and enjoy the Vatican in their wedding dress and tuxedo.

True salesmen never let small things like weddings or customs or social norms get in their way. There is only one way:  the Way of the Sale.

The Numbers Game

See these guys [points to other Gatherers], fucking amateurs won’t make a dime today. Too busy chatting away and not approaching enough

Sales truism – it is a numbers game. Even if you are amazing at selecting targets more receptive to your game, you never know until you throw yourself in and find out. Ergo, the paradox unfolds: to be successful, you need to approach like a horny schoolboy and risk annoying potential sales, yet the more people who employ this strategy, the more potential sales (tourists) will become disenfranchised at said sales people and your game will have to be drastically better to close sales in the future.

To demonstrate this, my mentor who was showing me the ropes, proceeded to hound people mercilessly at close range. I was amazed at the brazen and awkwardness of the confrontation.

HEY! HEY! HEY! We got an English tour leaving right now by an archeologist of the most important site in all of Rome…

My first gut reaction was that of a cringe, not unlike watching your buddy put his foot in his mouth when chatting up a girl at a bar,  as he had no tact whatsoever and appeared to just verbally throw up all over the place like a spastic autistic. He spat out the words in rapid-fire succession and didn’t stop until the party had completely walked away and shunned all those in his company. He didn’t stop from a “no thank you”, he didn’t stop for a non-response, he didn’t stop if they veered direction. No – like a German Panzer – he just rolled on, plowing through resistance and was unstoppable on his mission to either win the sale or become a social pariah. Curse words, evil looks and aggressive blowback didn’t deter his resolve.  Apparently, the guy who doesn’t give a shit and has nothing to lose, is a dangerous man. He can do amazing things.

So in the end, was it pretty? No. Did parties leave feeling annoyed and bitter at being accosted? Probably. Was it molestation without the pleasantry of foreplay? Sure – but so are the romance skills of your average male. The important question is:  was it effective and did he make sales?

This guy sent more people on unnecessary tours than a US army recruitment officer.

So – could this job turnout to be my muse?  Am I destined to rise to the top of the Gatherer ranks? To be a Gladiator among salesmen and wage battle like a true Roman centurion?  Well –  as much as I love living in Rome – the job has its challenges.  Those being rejection, after rejection after more rejection mixed with a lot of “no”s and a lot more hateful stares and even more hateful “leave me the fuck alone”s – in other words, it was like being in high school all over again.

I think I will keep looking.

Turner barr
turnerbarr@gmail.com

Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.

2 Comments
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