The Death of a Salesman
With apologies to Arthur Miller, whose play The Crucible should be required reading everywhere.
I’ve done any number of things to support myself through the years, and feel lucky to have spent only a minority of my working life hoeing beans, washing dishes, and standing on an assembly line. But there was nothing dishonorable in any of the jobs I had.
What was I thinking? To apply for a job as a salesman? I couldn’t sell myself out of a paper bag.
My profile, which surely did not match the one advertised, might have read: He doesn’t feel the need to convince someone of buying something they may not want, need, or be able to afford; he doesn’t think anyone should be harassed until they give in out of desperation.
With regards to the latter point, I do wish someone would break the news to the mobile phone companies as I’m about ready to rid myself of my cell phone, and retreat to a cabin in Massachusetts.
The place was packed. Standing room only. A hum of voices. Young people gathered hoping to find employment. One might have thought that it was offering a hefty salary or great benefits. (They were once actually available, believe it or not. Even the less than lucrative jobs I had, nearly all of them, provided one with some semblance of health care. Alas, a thing of the past. Swim or sink. Dog eat dog. What a society has become ours.)
A handsome, well-dressed man appears. Using all the charisma at his disposal, which by the look of the audience was considerable indeed, he began giving a job description in rather hazy terms. Periodically, however, he would be interrupted by the phone that rang in his office. He excused himself to answer it:
“Is that so? And remind me how many weeks you’ve been in the field? Unbelievable. You’re doing great work. Yes, it helps if you’ve got a great product. But don’t undercut yourself. Fantastic. Better than you could ever have imagined? I was straight with you, wasn’t I? No, thank you!”
When he reappeared, his face wore such transcendence that I could probably be forgiven for thinking he must be uniquely familiar with the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
He told us of a Mr K. who had been in the field only a short while and had already been making incredible sales.
As he sketched out more and more of the job, it was still not clear exactly what we would be selling and how.
Then I heard, “They won’t notice. That’s the beauty.”
It dawned on me. We would be delivering products to companies that had not ordered them.
I myself saw a beast, and looked around to see the reaction on other people’s faces, and seeing none, rose, and made my way to the door, which was being blocked by a heavy-set man who could have easily been David Crosby’s twin brother.
“The gentleman has not finished his talk.”
I gave him a look that must have given the idea that the gentleman might be very well displeased if I happened to cause a scene.
As he unlocked the door, and I slipped out into the hall, one could hear the death knell of my life as a salesman.