How to sell everything (PG)
One summer, on a Friday afternoon, a young man was being trained by his supervisor on his first day as a salesperson at a large department store. His supervisor was trying to show him the amount of things he could sell to customers by making them feel they needed the items. "Watch this," he said and approached a man who has just entered the store. "May I help you, sir?"
The man replied, "I just moved into my first house and I need some fertiliser for my lawn."
So the supervisor said, "Well, we have five- and ten-pound bags of fertiliser. I recommend you go with the ten pound bag."
"Why is that?"
"The ten-pound bag will get you through most of the summer, but the five-pound bag won't," the supervisor answered.
"Fine," the man agreed, "I'll take the ten-pounder." "Very good sir. And would you like the stiff rake or the spring-rake with that?"
"Rake? What do I need that for?"
"Well sir," said the supervisor authoritatively, "if you don't rake up the old dead grass before you spread the fertiliser, it won't all reach the soil."
"All right then. I'll get the stiff rake."
"Very good sir. And would you like the fixed sprinkler or the oscillating sprinkler with that?"
The man started to get a bit steamed and asked harshly, "Sprinkler? Look, I just came in here for some fertiliser. What do I need a sprinkler for?" Calmly, the supervisor responded, "Well sir, if you water your lawn immediately after fertilising, the fertiliser will sink into the soil more quickly and in no time at all, you'll have the greenest lawn in your neighbourhood."
This sounded pretty good to the man so he picked up the fixed sprinkler. "OK, then. I'll take all this."
"Very good sir. And would you like the electric or gas mower with that," asked the supervisor.
Now the customer had about had it and he all but blew up at the supervisor. "LAWNMOWER? Look, all I wanted when I came here was a bag of fertiliser. You've already managed to sell me a rake and a sprinkler besides. Give me one good reason why I should get a lawnmower, too!"
Calm as ever, the supervisor said, "Well sir, if you get a lawnmower now, then you'll be all ready to start trimming your beautiful green grass the minute it starts getting too long. Your lawn will look like a golf course and you'll be the envy of all your neighbours! Besides, they are on sale this week only, and you're going to need it either way."
Well, the man figured that sounded OK and he really wanted to get out of there before he bought anything else so at last he relented. "Fine. I'll get the electric mower, but that's it!"
"Very good sir. I'll ring that up for you."
After the man had left the store with all his new purchases, the supervisor turned to the trainee and said, "So, do you think you could do that?" The trainee said that he thought he could and the supervisor directed him towards another customer.
The trainee approached the puzzled-looking man and asked, "May I help you sir?"
The man replied, "Yes. I need some tampons for my wife." Well, the trainee is totally thrown off by this request. He can't imagine what he could offer the man to go along with that. However, he wanted to impress his boss so he thought hard. Suddenly, he had it! "Very good sir. And would you like the electric or gas mower with that?"
"Mower? What the hell is wrong with you? I came in here looking for tampons. Why the hell should I get a lawnmower, too?"
"Well sir," the trainee answered, "I figure your weekend is shot, so you might as well cut the grass."
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Mundane Journeys through an Amazing World
begins with Interstate 80. Not the most engaging topic, I know, but when you think about it, I-80 runs all the way across the North American continent linking San Francisco and New York. It's not just a ribbon of asphalt, it's a portal to far away, almost magical places.
My visits to major cities like Tokyo, London and Washington DC have been business affairs. I haven't rode a lot of roller coasters or ridden in open air buses, but I have visited with senators, bought yams from the back of a truck and barely escaped complete embarrassment when I was introduced to Matt Wiener in Vegas.
As I wrote the book I realized that over the years exotic, distant places have become more like the mundane places I've called home. But, as it turns out, there really aren't any mundane places, only mundane ways of looking at things.
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