Low Front March 2020
There was only one job for Rob when he got out of prison. Oh, he tried to make it a success, but he just couldn’t get the rhythm of it. Swinging a sledge hammer to put rails on ties wasn’t much fun either. The hot sun of summer drove him crazy. That was when he decide to become a salesman. I met Rob years later when he had graduated to be my marketing professor in college. He had come a long way but his stories still taught us what we needed to know. One of my favorites focused on low, front-end resistance. Yes, it is that moment in the checkout line when the Snickers bar calls out to you.
The trouble with selling waterless cookware, actually selling anything, was to get yourself out of the office and in front of a potential buyer. Time Life books can be sold over the phone as can vacations and software, but waterless cookware must be demonstrated. For the first week, from 8:00 AM on, Rob sat around the office drinking coffee with the boys. They finally hit the streets around 10:00. By 11:30, it was time for lunch so they quit for a bite. The afternoon went pretty much the same way.
Not making a dime, Rob set a pattern for himself. He would leave the office at 8:45 and drive until the 9:00 traffic report came on the radio. Whatever house he found himself in front of, he parked the car, picked up his 50 pound backpack of cookware, and knocked on that door. His spiel was to present the person that answered with a wooden pepper grinder, followed quickly with, “I have a three minute presentation. If you just let me finish, I will give you absolutely free of charge the matching salt shaker.”
One morning he ended up in a part of town that had doubtful prospects regarding a sale. The door Rob faced was mostly unpainted and he could tell he was interrupting a TV show. A 300 pound, six-foot, five inch giant opened the door clothed only in his boxer shorts with, “What do YOU want?” Rob handed him the pepper grinder and spilled his scripted sentence. The giant roared, “You take this back!” Rob followed the attack quickly with the second line of his script, “Sir or madam, it is against company policy to take it back.” The Giant screamed, “You take this back, or I’ll kill you!” He threw the pepper grinder on the concrete porch and crushed it with his bare foot.
This is where the story gets interesting. Rob was born with a wicked sense of humor which had been honed to a science in prison. Some fellows lifted weights, some learned the guitar, but Rob studied the craft of humor. He looked down at the mangled pepper grinder and then to the Giant he said, “Well if that’s the way you feel about it, here is the salt shaker.” as he handed it to him. The chase began. Rob weighed only three times as much as his 50 pounds of cookware and half that of the giant. Screaming at him while they ran, Rob only stayed slightly ahead of him. Rob screamed too but his tone was about three octaves above that of the giant. Finally tiring, the monster returned to his house and shut the screen door.
Rob didn’t go back for his car until it was pitch dark.