Let’s talk about today. Then I might get to the beautiful black berry shrubs and the gentle little fawn I saw while enjoying a walk in the woods on Monday. First, the bizarre and unpleasant week continues.
Today brought the opportunity to ride with a regional manager. Not a bad thing, but I might be one of the more solitary salesmen out there. Too much yipping and yapping starts to drive me nuts and my partner in the field today has the gift of gab.
We drove hither and yon scrambling for one good lead then another and came up short. It doesn’t help when you look like a pair of Mormon missionaries walking up to a business, especially when you’re not the standard twenty-something kid in a white shirt and tie. When you’re older you look like a recent Mormon convert on a mission – you know, a guy trying to turn around a bad streak by answering a late night infomercial — and that scares people.
So naturally we took our missionary work to an Episcopal church and pounced on the first old Church Lady we met inside. The poor thing likely had about as much to do with decisions at that church as I do but we gave her the entire pitch. “You should take a look at our unbelievable promotions. They’ll have you believing in miracles!”
I was satisfied leaving it at that, but my cohort wasn’t going to let go. We hit her with a confusing array of options and possibilities as she tried – unsuccessfully – to get closer to a door, any door, to escape. I have to admit that I did begin to enjoy the performance. She politely responded consistently and somewhat uncomfortably that they had no need to invest in any additional advertising scheme while my partner just as consistently and quite a bit more comfortably pitched her more and more. There was no stopping him. My efforts to get a word in could not break his efforts. Eventually I found a way to thank her for her time and started leaving, pulling my enthusiastic partner out all but kicking and screaming.
As a matter of fact…he went back in! In the parking lot — and man they had a big parking lot — he asked me for one or two sales aids and marched right back in to give her some engaging literature to back up all the good news he delivered. When he came back out – another ten minutes later — he looked pleased with himself and announced that she was a buyer. We’ll see.
An account I have been trying to pin down for weeks is not far from that church. Having a partner I thought it might be a good project for the two of us. The business was outside of town a bit and I do like my drives on country roads, anyway, even if it is a short one. So we decided to check in on a building contractor.
The business lists an address in its advertising and I have been to the office before in previous years so I thought nothing of driving up to see if anyone was there today. We came up short. No one was there and all the trucks were out. The place appeared to be vacant. The business owner’s house is a short distance away. Like many owner/operator businesses in rural areas this business and home share the same plot of land. But the house looked empty, too. No cars and no people. Only a sleeping dog on the front lawn that turned out to be a rotting tree stump.
Today really was a beautiful day and we had been running around so we took a moment to get some papers organized and leave behind some information letting the business owner know I had stopped. We might have been there for five minutes.
When we pulled onto the road I saw his truck driving in our direction and I thought we were in luck. We pulled up next to each other and I gave a happy salesman’s hello and he returned a face that looked ready to spit.
“What the fuck are you doing?!”
“We just stopped at your office…”
“You’re lucky you didn’t get shot! Call me before you come up here! With all that’s going on today you could have got shot! My wife is all upset telling me strange men are poking around my property and I have to leave my job to see who’s messing with us. You’re lucky you’re not shot!”
(I did mention that the business address is on this guy’s ads and website and things like that, right?)
I apologized for my unforgivable stupidity and lack of tact…and asked for the chance to talk anyway. (“Can we come up and talk with you now?” Brilliant.) I heard some cursing and something again about calling ahead first before the truck kicked up some gravel and raced down the road toward home, presumably to calm the stressed wife cowering in the family home somewhere. I suspect that this guy’s wife didn’t think we were Mormons, but perhaps the IRS or the FBI.
Yes…I don’t know. It is only Wednesday. Two days left in the week. A guy might salvage something out of it yet.