Icons of our time

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 May, 1996, 12:00am

NAME: The Insurance Salesperson.

AGE: 22 - 42 JOB DESCRIPTION: Heaven. He or she is one of those rare, and blessed Hong Kongers who get paid for doing what comes naturally - badgering others into parting with money for something they don't really want.

PARALLEL CAREERS: Sales in an electrical goods shop, real estate, cosmetics counter girl.

UNIFORM: It has to be a 'suit', but with a difference. His usually features a dazzling, TV sports presenter-style jacket with black pants. There is always a right Jackson Pollock of a tie. She goes for the figure-hugging, even if she possesses the sort of figure even Bill Clinton wouldn't want to hug. Much of her success is based on sex appeal. And if it isn't she likes showing it off anyway.

HANG-OUTS: Anywhere that victims can be found. He/she loves coffee shops (somehow the two are made for each other - flashy, impersonal and over-priced) and is always willing to come and badger you in your home.

EDUCATION: About the same as all great Hong Kongers. Well. Li Ka-shing anyway. Who needs education when you have got the school of life (South China branch) to learn you? In this world it is all about thinking on your feet. It's about who you know not what you know. And, essentially, it is about loving money so much you will do virtually anything to earn it.

FURTHER EDUCATION: Two mornings a a month, he and his fellow mobile-phone toting, hair-gelled smoothies assemble in a lecture hall where senior suits with winning smiles and plenty of buzz-words teach them the tricks of the trade, have them sing songs of unity, and enter even further into the Faustian deal that is their chosen career.

LANGUAGE SKILLS: They speak that hybrid Cantonese which is peppered with English words and important phrases like Ikea 'bedroom', 'ladies night at Westworld', and 'Joyce at Galleria'.

FAMILY: Doting parents sigh wistfully when Junior goes proudly off to work on that momentous first day: mobile phone bravely clenched in sweating hand, and name-card holder gaping hungrily as it awaits its prey. Twelve hours later, Junior returns with some documents, sits them down, and suggests that they re-think their insurance. I mean, a guy's got to start somewhere, hasn't he? FAVOURITE FILM: Anything Western and disposable - preferably things like Pretty Woman because they talk about the nitty-gritty of lives in which people sell themselves for money. Some have even managed to sit through Glengarry Glen Ross because of its subject matter.

FAVOURITE DRINK: He likes whichever beer his client favours. She likes fruit punch.


GRAND IRONY: These people are doing their best to secure a safe future (ie; by earning as much moolah as possible, as quickly as possible), by encouraging others to invest in the future when they live in a place with one of the least-certain futures in the world.