The Salesman (Weekend freewrite)
‘That's our motto, and if you can't abide by it, then you are not the type of person...’
‘Don’t worry, Mr.D, nobody’s ever called me lazy’, Michael Green interrupted, sitting a bit straighter in his chair and looking his prospective employer right in the eye. He knew a thing or two about making a good impression and he really needed the job.
‘When I worked at the dealership, people used to say I could sell air-conditioning to a penguin’, he said with broad smile, but the joke seemed lost on Mr. D.
‘Penguins don’t have money, Mr. Green.’
‘Well, of course not, it’s just a joke...’, blurted Mr. Green and the pleading undertone in his voice only compounded his embarrassment. He felt like telling the middle aged pompous ass in front of him to go to hell, but he stifled the words in his throat, resolving to show that prick what he was made of at a later date.
‘If you’ll be working for us, Mr.Green, I’m afraid you’ll have to adjust your perspective. See, here we don’t deal in quantity, but quality.The harder the sale, the most bonus points for you. That’s what we mean by difficult customer’.
Michael Green refrained the urge to wipe his sweaty brow and remained silent, sensing the man in front of him was not done.
‘Customers is one thing our company never lacked. On the contrary. Most people would gladly be in business with us, you will find. Naturally, we tend to focus on those who wouldn’t. Have patience, learn the trade and, if you work hard, one day I’m sure you’ll make it on the employee on the month board.’
Mr.Green let out a sigh of relief, he was hired then. He’d been out of work for three months, he was one month behind on his rent and he really needed to take the car to the mechanic to check out that damn clanking noise. When he saw the add for a salesman in the paper, he left his coffee on the table, ran a hand over his chin to see if he could go without a shave, decided the stubble wasn’t that bad, and jumped into his car to be the first in line. He didn’t even ask what it was they were selling, confident he’ll catch on pretty fast. How hard could it be?
He even forgot to ask about money and now that Mr.D. had turned his attention to the laptop in front of him it was obvious the meeting was over. Well, it was probably enough for his immediate expenses.
Prepare before you see them. They could be dangerous. Donald Barnes, the office manager, ended the briefing on an ominous note, but all the guys in the room responded with smirks and chuckles. All except Michael Green whose head was practically spinning. He had spent most of his life being very sure of himself , too sure if you asked his ex-wife Linda, but now he could feel self-doubt creeping inside his soul. He hated to admit it but he was out of his depths, as this wasn’t the line of business he was expecting. Not by far. Yet, he plastered his prize-winning salesman of the year grin on his face and strutted out the office with the others. He set out on the street, full of confidence as if it was the most natural thing in the world to convince people to sell their souls to the devil.
There was a three-day girl-scouts convention in town and there was a nice fat bonus on the best catch. Young girls are notoriously easy to sway so, ordinarily, they’re not very high on the list. But since these were girls from the best Catholic girls in the country, it was a point of honor for Mr.D. to lure as many as possible into temptation. Besides, it’s common courtesy to show some interest when your adversary sends his best team right on your turf.
On any other day, Michael Green would have walked by as quickly as possible and ignored the girls eating sandwiches on the lawn in front of the Church of Saint Joseph.Or rather, he’d walk by with his eyes firm on the ground, hoping the girls would ignore him.Not that he had anything against young women, but he was painfully aware of his age, even though he wasn’t forty yet, and he hated to hear them giggle, as teenagers are wont to do, as he couldn’t shake the feeling they were laughing at him. And his drab office suit and the slight paunch the jacket couldn’t hide.
But he was on a mission so there was no avoiding them. Michael Green sat down on a bench right in front of the church, took out a newspaper and pretended to read.
As he scanned the groups of girls, his settled on a slender blonde one, with a shade of make-up on her quite slippery eyes. Probably, one of those girls doing this just for fun.
Later that day, as he sat down with a well-deserved beer in front of him, Michael Green could not contain his excitement. The job was easier than he’d expected and he was rather pleased with himself. In less than an hour he’d learned all that was worth knowing about the lovely Brenda, a small town girl who dreamed of a career in modelling. Quite unimaginative, but such an easy deal to make. She had the profile of a Greek goddess, he told her. ‘Poxileea,you look quite like her’, he proclaimed, hoping the girl was as ignorant as he was in Greek mythology and wouldn’t spot the fake name. She didn’t. Brenda wasn’t interested in ‘inappropriate pictures’ and Michael Assured her his good friend Mr. D., who happened to be looking for fresh faces, wasn’t ‘that sort of guy’. All in all a good start and Michael Green felt confident pretty soon he’ll afford a new car.
The burn hurt as Mr.D. was glaring at him with fiery eyes.
‘You pick up the most idiotic of the lot, then you walk into my office expecting some sort of prize? What did I tell you the other day about quality? That dumb girl would sell her soul, her mother and her pet dog Charlie to have her face in the papers? It’s embarrassing, really’.
The only consolation for Michael was that the boss had been ranting all morning, seemed they’d all screwed up more or less. At least he was the new guy, he deserved some slack.
The sermon was taking longer than expected, so Mr. Green had ample time to consider his options.He was a damn fine salesman and he was going to prove it.He considered zeroing in on the ugliest chick, but he soon realized that would be a mistake.Too easy and Mr.D. would throw a fit again. No, he had to be smart. Look for a quiet girl, the mousy type, ugly clothes, eyes in her Bible, that sort of girl. It wasn’t easy to find one to fit the bill, most of them looked like cheerleaders on a break, waiting for the players to offer them a ride.
He found her under a tree, not talking to anyone, her long skirt neatly folded over her scrawny legs. He hastily stuck his blue tie in his pocket and put on a dog-collar, then walked up to the girl introducing himself as Father Green, assistant to the Bishop. He’d noticed her listening to the sermon all eyes and ears and he felt sure there were things she might want to discuss further. ‘So rare to find such a devout girl these days.’ Mandy was shy at first, but Mr. Green knew how to make people talk. Once you make them believe you care you can sell them anything. He’d learned the trick early on - people didn’t come to the shop to buy cars, they bought the importance they get by owning such and such car. Soon enough Mandy was telling him about the inner works of the organization. ‘Did you know that Mrs. Abelforth - apparently their chief - smokes and drinks beer?’ Mr. Green’s face was suitably shocked and before long he just had to point out that such a good girl like her deserved more recognition. He will have a word with the bishop. No, Mandy protested, she didn’t want to cause any problem, Mrs. Abelforth was very nice to her, but Father Green insisted. Took him the better part of an hour, but in the end she agreed she would make a better scouts’ leader and she’d make sure the girl wore more appropriate clothes. And no one would miss Sunday service like they do now. And... her eyes were sparkling as he led her down the street, to the private residence of Mr. D, ‘our beloved bishop’.
Michael Green was basking in the glory, his performance had been masterful they all agreed. Even Horace Davies, who was the most senior among salesmen, said he was impressed.
‘You should have seen the stupid girl rushing to sell her soul to the...’
His words were cut short by Mr. D sweeping into the office.
‘I see you’re mighty happy this morning, Mr.Green. What was it that you were laughing about? Ah, the girl scout, I remember...’
‘Yes, she was so eager to meet you, sir, and...’
Mr. Green’s voice trailed and ultimately froze under Mr.D.’s inquisitive stare. There was something quite unsettling in his look and Michael couldn’t understand what he’d done wrong this time.
‘A fine job you did yesterday, indeed. You have every reason to be gloating... but pray remind me, what is it that you sold your soul to me for? A month’s rent and a new car?’
Story written for @mariannewest's freewrite challenge. The three prompts for the weekend challenge are marked in bold. Check out her blog and join our freewrite community.
Images are mine.
Thanks for reading!