My son, Ben Goodman, asked me to write a letter for him, explaining how I felt and my reactions when he first told me that he would not be coming home for the summer and instead would be selling books – DOOR TO DOOR – in a different part of the country. So, here goes… Ben came home at spring break and said he had an internship with Southwestern. YaY!!! I was excited for him because he was very enthusiastic, but then he started telling us the details. Southwestern would be providing training and products ONLY. No pay (commissions only), no company car, no insurance, and NO place to live. What the heck!!! What kind of company is this?! I was like, Oh, no, no, Noooo! My husband and I agreed, this was NOT a good idea.
First of all, I wanted him to come home, live and work here in Longview, Tx, where he grew up. I missed him and wanted him home with his family. But if he did not want to do not that, at least take summer courses and work at College Station where he was attending A&M University. Ben was messing up my plans for him for summer. And we, neither I nor my husband, Alan, thought he could make any money selling books – maybe at BOOKS A MILLION, but definitely not door to door. And driving his car all over the US – wear and tear and depreciation on his vehicle, no good. And I adamantly objected to his going off with no plan for lodging, living with perfect strangers!?! Why would anyone think that was a good idea? Who are these people? How did they fill my son’s head with this nonsense? No, no, no!!! Three strikes, they – Southwestern – were OUT!!! He said he was impressed with the company and the people that worked for Southwestern and rattled off a bunch of statistics about them. I did not care about any of that! He told me that he had already given his word, signed, and was going to do it, for at least that summer – only three months – he could do anything for three months. …Oh, no!!!
And I thought, where is my good, obedient son, and what have they done with him? He was not listening to his father’s or my objections – which were valid and legitimate. We thought that he was brainwashed, sold a bunch of baloney, Southwestern is a CULT!!! My husband said something like – Fine! Go learn your lesson. Whatever you make this summer is your spending money for the school year. I think you are going to be broke and not be able to have any fun while attending college because you won’t have any spending money. You will probably have to get a job and work during school. And when you do get tired of that door to door business and come home for the rest of the summer, all the good jobs will be gone. Other college kids will have them. I think you are going to regret this decision. And I told him to pray about it (I prayed too) and cried and begged him not to do it. I thought something bad would happen to him – far, far away with strangers, out in the cold or hot or rain or tornadoes and no money with a broken down car, hungry on the side of the road and nowhere to stay, like a homeless person! We tried and could not convince Ben to change his mind. Needless to say, my husband and I struggled with his decision.
Before the kids left for the summer there was a parent meeting/luncheon that I attended in Austin (my husband refused to go), where questions were answered and objections were validated. I did come away from that encouraged and a little more hopeful. (None of them were wearing long flowing robes or dancing in circles and chanting.) Other parents were there that had gone through the same things as me and my husband, doubts and fears, etc., and had been pleasantly surprised when their children successfully completed their summer with more than a little money in their bank accounts. There were also parents who were “book kids” themselves and actively encouraged their children to become “book kids”. They told their own stories and were proud of their achievements with Southwestern. I too was impressed with the people that worked for Southwestern. Hard working, intelligent, witty, well-dressed, encouraging, enthusiastic, funny, charming, self-motivated individuals was the impression I got. No wonder Ben likes this company, he fits right in, I thought.
I am not going to say it was easy that first summer, not for me or my family, missing Ben all summer, but especially not for Ben either. It is a hard job, with homesickness, long hours and many discouragements. And when he would call and be down because he’d had a particularly bad day or week and I wanted to baby him and tell him he could come on home if he wanted, that would upset him even more. He wanted me to encourage him, tell him to hang in there, and that HE COULD DO IT! (Even if I did want him to come on home!) So I did, my husband did, and Ben did!
Ben came home after that first summer with Southwestern more self-motivated than before – he felt successful and proud, made some good money (much more than his dad and I ever thought he would), and won a paid Mexico trip that he has gone on for the last three years. Yes, he has sold books for three summers now. I still would rather he come home, but I know he is doing what he wants. I believe and so does he, that he has a great future with a good company. Southwestern Advantage has been good for my son, Ben The Bookman Goodman!