” Hey Greg, this is Steve, we have a new girl, name of Alia, that I need you to train. Bring her to the doctors offices this week.” I pick up Alia on Monday morning. She is astonishingly tiny, and very pretty with dark brown Pakistani skin. I soon find out she was also a Muslim, the first Muslim woman I have ever met. We spend the week visiting dozens of doctors offices as pharmaceutical sales reps. Alia asks a million questions, and on day three wants to do a presentation to one of the doctors. I agree to it.She does. She gets it all wrong, but in a wonderful, delightful way. I try to help, but I can’t stop laughing. We get back to the car. Alia stares at me with her her huge black eyes. “What did I do wrong, Mr. Greg?” I gently explained what went wrong. Alia listens and asks a dozen questions. For Alia, it’s ALWAYS questions.
Alia eventually turns full time, and becomes my territory partner. We are on the phone constantly, talking about business, but also about personal stuff, too. We do lunch often. I learned much about her life as a Muslim. Since I knew nothing, it was my turn to ask a million questions. I was very curious. We talked about arranged marriages. I, of course, could not understand how any woman could want an arranged marriage. Alia, in her little pit bull way, vigorously defended the practice.
Now, when Alia had it in her little head that something should be done a certain way, she was relentless! “Mr. Greg, we should…” “No, Alia, against HIPAA rules.” “But Mr. Greg…” ” Alia, if you keep this up I will have to sit on you and squish you, would you like that?” Tiny giggle.
Now in the field of pharmaceutical sales, I had great success and miserable failure. Nothing in between. It was during this time that I started experiencing a period of failure. I received a warning. My sales had to go up or else. I doubled my work effort, but my sales numbers did not increase. I was eventually let go.
I called Alia, no answer. Later, I called her again. Still no answer. I emailed her. Nothing. It became brutally clear. Alia had fired me, too, on the very day the company let me go . It was tougher to take then losing the job. Have not heard from her since.
She lives 20 minutes away, might as well be 20 hours. Is this like a sad love story? No, not really. I’ve written some of those. But occasionally, I still think of her. And I feel sad.