You would think that, with my experience with the brand, I wouldn’t be such an avid fan of the Cutco kitchen knives. This isn’t a paid sponsorship or promotion or anything, I’m just weirdly attached to these high quality knives.
Cutco knives aren’t sold in stores; you have to subject yourself to a physical salesman coming to your home. They’re also extremely expensive. It’s annoying, but it’s worth it. They’re “forever” guaranteed, meaning you can pass the knives down as family heirlooms and the company will continue to keep them sharpened and polished, replacing them if anything should happen to the blade or handle. The knives have a patented “D-blade” designed so that you can cut efficiently forwards, backwards, and straight down. They’re incredibly sharp, something I learned the painful way.
My mother bought a single Cutco knife through one of the members of our church. I was still a preteen at the time, and didn’t pay much attention to the new knife. One afternoon, I was making a sandwich, and I didn’t notice the knife sitting un-sheathed on the counter beside the peanut butter. I put all the ingredients away and tossed my dirtied butter knife into the sink, carrying my sandwich out to the living room for lunch.
Before I stepped off the linoleum onto the carpet, my mother yelped, “Debi, your toe!”
I looked down. My right big toe was bleeding so badly, I could see my knuckle bone. I hadn’t even felt my toe being cut, but now that I could see the cut, I could feel the pain. I began screaming, and my mom quickly swathed my toe and took me back to the kitchen to wash the wound. That’s when we saw the bloodied knife on the floor. I must have accidentally knocked it off the counter onto my toe when I was making my sandwich. I had to go to the hospital to get my toe bandaged, and I don’t remember ever eating that sandwich.
After I graduated college, I began looking for a job that would support me until I could get my career in writing launched. I applied for several, then found an opening at a business called “Vector.” I got an interview, and, even though I got lost and arrived fifteen minutes late, I got the job. I learned that Vector is the name of the company that creates Cutco, and that it was now my job to sell them.
During training, I was shown how the Cutco blades are made, and how they compare price-wise to blades bought at Wal-Mart. I was fascinated by what I was learning, even before we started the product testing. We used the knives to cut thick hemp ropes, to slice grapes so thin they looked like contact lenses, and to cut through leather. Then my boss pulled out the scissors. They were all-purpose scissors, cutting through pizza, raw broccoli, paper, and fabric, and like all the knives, its patented handle fitted comfortably in both your left AND right hands. But the most impressive thing about the scissors was that they could cut a penny in two. It wasn’t easy, you had to use a little leverage, but it could do it. My manager showed us how to make “penny art” by cutting nicks and notches into the coin, transforming it into a swan, a flower, or a snake. It was really cool, and the scissors quickly became my favorite thing to demonstrate.
Once my training was complete, I was instructed to go through my contacts and call them all to set up an in-home demonstration. I was assured that my paycheck wasn’t dependent on sales–I only had to go through the appointment to get paid–but my paycheck would increase significantly if I made good sales. As an added bonus, for my first two weeks of selling I would get a new knife of my own for every sales level I reached. It was quite possible for a salesman to acquire the entire catalog through this two-week incentive, but I fell short of the goal. The scissors and standard knives automatically came in my standard set, but I did gain the petite chef, the meat cleaver, the spreading knife (another really cool item), the cake knife, and a few other utensils. I bought my selling kit for a steal, and I was very happy with the product I was pitching. The only downside was that I hated my job.
As you can see, I believe in the product 250%, and I liked my manager, but I’m an introvert. It would take a lot for me to call a friend or a relative up to schedule an appointment. I felt like I was a nuisance, and I couldn’t stand bothering my loved ones even though I really loved these knives. I was really good at selling them, too, climbing to the top of the salesman bracket easily, but I couldn’t last with the gut-wrenching self-loathing I was subjecting myself to. After a month of selling, I quit.
My manager begged me to stay, but when I refused, settled for transferring me from sales to the phones. My official title was “receptionist,” but a more accurate description would honestly be “telemarketer.” My manager insisted that we weren’t telemarketers because we weren’t selling anything, we were offering people jobs. It didn’t feel any different to me. When you are accepted by Vector, you write down the names and phone numbers of people you think would be interested in the job as well, getting a little bonus if you “recommend” at least five people. I recommended a church friend who did ultimately get hired by Vector, but I knew the majority of the people on the list would just consider the phone calls a nuisance. They didn’t apply for a job, they didn’t ask for a job, and they didn’t want to be called by random people soliciting jobs. Naturally I hated this job, too, and after a few nasty phone calls, I stopped calling.
I’m usually proud of my work ethic. I’m usually a good, hard worker. I show up early, I do the best work I can at my job, and I try to be responsible. I’m a little ashamed to say I didn’t do my best as Vector’s “receptionist.” Vector had a file of old phone numbers that we were supposed to consistently go through. These numbers were frequently five years old, and they belonged to the people smart enough to not answer unknown numbers and telemarketers. I decided to work through this list, but instead of calling the numbers listed, I would call my own number, let the call go to voicemail, then labeled the number “uninterested” so they wouldn’t be bothered again.
Around the same time, I picked up a second job that I actually enjoyed. I started working with a Before and After School Care program with great people and greater kids. The morning shift started insanely early and didn’t cut into my receptionist job with Vector, but the afternoon shift did. I was supposed to work 10-4 with Vector, but schools let out at 3, so I had to leave Vector around 2 0’clock in order to arrive at the school in time to take attendance.
My Vector manager felt a little betrayed when he found out I had picked up a second job that cut into my shift on the phones. I found another job at a childcare center and put in my two weeks notice at Vector. My manager told me to go ahead and not come back, telling me that he didn’t appreciate how I hadn’t told him I was looking for other jobs and how I hadn’t given him time to find a replacement when I couldn’t fulfill my duties on the phones. I hadn’t realized I needed to tell my manager I was looking for jobs; I thought the two-week notice was the only thing I needed. I understood how cutting work early to go my second job would upset him, even though I had reported and cleared my schedule change with him before doing so.
When I walked out of the Vector office for the last time, I wasn’t sure if I had technically been fired, but I wasn’t upset. I had a set of awesome knives I got cheap because I worked for the company, and I had gotten a friend a job he was excited to have. I already had another job for myself lined up, and a two week break between jobs sounded great! I walked to my borrowed car and drove home for a rest between shifts.