Back in the very first edition of “Editor’s Note”, I made mention of a past job I had of being a telemarketer. I mean, when you think of entry level jobs for a young dude, you can narrow it down to a core triumvirate: fast food, retail and telemarketing. The money was fast, the sales pitches as shady as they come. I knew I had a problem when I realized that drawing inspiration from the movie Boiler Room was my main motivation on the job. But drawing inspo from movie quotes, taking on different personas and faking accents like you were some secret agent on the run can only get you so far. Aw man, the fake accents. Such was the quickest way to get your card pulled and your bluff called. The tactic was cheezy at best and at worst, a one way ticket to losing a sale and your dignity in one fell swoop. Trust me, I learned first-hand.
Most days, when time felt slower than Fred Sanford rockin’ ankle weights, my boredom spurned me to develop different personas and adopt fake accents to enhance the buffoonery on the job and also to make a game out of whether or not I could make a sale using one. I was really particular to copping a country accent because really, my English accent sounds like Ozzy Osbourne drowning, thus leading to pathetic levels of believability. On one of these particularly slow days, I took on a call with an older lady, which at the time I pictured on the other line was the sweetest grandma that baked the illest batch of cookies while knitting the comfiest sweater that only the coziest of boys could appreciate. Her accent was a rich, Southern one, the kind that easily sang grandchildren to sleep and yet still shrill enough to get the attention of the whole bingo hall every time she declared her win. This was going to be a slam dunk, I thought. And for the most part, it initially was. Two minutes in and I knew that my faux Southern drawl was keeping her on the line, buttering her up for another sale under my belt.
But sure enough, I got caught up, gassed on my own hot air that was boomeranging through the phone line.
“Well I really think you have such a familiar accent. You obviously must be from the South huh? I can just hear the hospitality in your voice, son.”
I bit. “Well of course ma’am. Now if i do say so myself, I’m actually from around your parts.” Her home address flashing across the computer beckoned me to take it there. I didn’t think I was crazy enough to say that, but at the time I really thought that upping the comfort and familiarity factor would lead me to the land of sure-fire sales and commission. Self-confidence is one helluva drug, man.
“Ooooh, really now? Whereabouts? I bet you’re right near the lake huh? All the young folks live near there.”
“Ma’am, you sure are sharper than my grandad’s old hunting knife. Of course I’m from by the lake!”
“HA. Well funny you say that, son. Because we don’t got no lake within miles of this city!”
Besides losing that potential sale that day, realization hit me with a Tyson-like uppercut to my conscience – fake it and you’ll wind up just playing yourself. Easily. Keep faking it and you’ll wind up losing yourself as a whole. Because sooner or later, someone will call you out and have you caught up faster than Usher in ’04. Now all of that is particularly important to know in an industry such as streetwear fashion and even hip-hop music in general. Both for the most part are of the business of self-tooting their proverbial horns and forged braggadocio.
So take it from a reformed telemarketer and long-recovered faker of jacks, save yourself the obvious L you’re going to take sooner or later and keep it one hundred from the get-go. You never know when the sweetest old lady will come out of nowhere to expose you of your bootlegged tactics and manufactured sincerity.