CDs for Sale

“Are we really going to be able to pull this off?” I asked Elizabeth.  It was thirty minutes before the start of the internet sale of “The Greatest Hits Alive – Limited Edition” on http://www.rickspringfield.com.

I hoped I’d thought of everything.  I truly had started off this thing not knowing the first thing about internet sales.  I racked my brain thinking of every contingency. I’d gotten a PO Box for the paper orders (we had to have the option of paying by money order for those who didn’t have credit card access), balancing my nearly six month old baby girl on my hip as I did so. I’d set up Rick’s electronic payments through PayPal, having to talk to their customer service agent and Rick’s accountant to get it all in the clear. Elizabeth and I had tested the order page and its redirect to the payment page a thousand times.  I felt alternately amazed at what I was doing and not at all able to absorb it because of having to remember every single tiny detail to make it all happen.

We were selling 5,500 of his Limited Edition CD sets.  Today was technically a presale, in which we would take deposits of half payment to put people in line for the discs. The order number was important; Rick was hand numbering and signing all of them, thus greatly increasing their value.  The CDs would be sent out on a first come, first served basis in about a month; the lower the number of the CD, the more valuable it would be. For the diehard fans, it meant that getting your order in early was key, and already I could see the site slowing down. There was an insane amount of traffic that must be sitting on the site hitting the “refresh” button to see when the sale went live.

“Of course we’ll be able to pull this off.  Of course, we may get maced the next time we decide to go to a show,” Elizabeth answered.

Things had gotten a little crazy in cyberworld since word had gotten out that Elizabeth and I were running the sale of the CD.  Fans basically were in one of two camps:  those that were amazed that Rick had chosen loyal, devoted fans to help him out and revered us for it; or those that thought Rick had chosen two people who already had enough responsibility and favoritism (that was felt, by those in the camp, completely undeserved) from him to last a lifetime.   I bristled as the accusations were levied that Elizabeth and I would not honor orders from those who had been critical of us; Elizabeth and I both grew defensive and wrote long emails sent to our thousand person mailing list defending ourselves.  We should have just put our heads down and made sure everything went smoothly, but it was hard not to get caught up in the “she said”/”she said”.  It bothered me greatly to think that there were people out there in the world who didn’t like me but hadn’t ever met me. It cut to the bone of my insecurity of how I came to be doing all of this in the first place.  If they all thought I was a sham that Rick Springfield never should have trusted, then maybe he would one day think that too.

“Na, all they have to do is keep refreshing this page.  If they crash the site, I’m really going to freak out. Do you think some of them would actually intentionally slow the site down just to make us look bad?  I mean, seriously.  It seems awfully slow.  I wonder how I am going to be able to sign in to activate the sale.”

I looked at the clock.  Just a few minutes left.  I’d purposely planned the sale for a time when Z would be at school, that would be daytime for both east and west coasts, and when I anticipated Melinda would be napping.  All were true as I opened my FTP program to upload the sale page; this would activate the sale.

“There’s nothing we can do at this point but just cross our fingers and hope that we’ve thought of everything.  You know what?  Let’s just go ahead and start trying to activate it now; it might take you a few tries to get in with all of the traffic.”

Elizabeth was right.  The program hung endlessly as I tried to log in, the site completely gutted with hundreds of fans hitting refresh on the sale page.  It timed out three times before I  finally shouted into the phone, “I’m IN!  It uploaded.  Do you see it on your screen yet?”

She chuckled on the other end. “I don’t see the sale page; the screen is still trying to load.  But what I do see is orders already; look in your orders folder.”  We had set up the orders to send us an email every time an order came in; the email program was simultaneous sending out automatic responses to their orders; if things were working properly, all we’d have to do at this point was watch the orders roll in to our email boxes.

I hit the button to download mail and suddenly the folder lit up.  40 unread messages. I clicked it again.  Now there were 70 messages. A third time.  “Holy shit, we have over 150 orders in under a minute of being live!”

I heard Elizabeth hundreds of miles away, squealing.  “It’s working, we did it!”

I sat down in my chair and started to cry.  Thank goodness it was working.

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