ALL BUSINESS

Charley Barton had been in Sales for 27 years. Persistence used to be his strong point. Fluid with the bullshit and he drove a hard bargain. He had made and broken more bones in those 27 years than anyone he knew. But it had all dried up. Charley didn’t have the heart for it anymore. It had all changed.

He was an excellent provider in his heyday. The charming Mrs. “B” never wanted for anything until Charley started his gradual slide. Then, all she ever wanted was for Charley to go away. As he waited for the bus with an acquaintance, Charley stirred up his usual small talk.

“Mel,” Charley said, “the whole industry has changed. It used to be easy to reel them in. But, lately I seem to be using the wrong bait”

“Bait, nothin,” Mel Davis retorted. “You’ve been missing the ‘Big Picture’.”

Barton and Davis were cut from the same swatch of fabric, most surely polyester blend. Their better years were in the rear view mirror. Rounder now and slightly balding; poster-boys for middle age. They had become stodgy, stiff and set in their ways. What worked before, just didn’t close the deal anymore. Barton glanced around and wondered out loud.

“What ‘Big Picture’?” Charley asked finally.

“Look around you, Chuck! What do you see?” Davis offered. “I mean, really look!”

Again Charley’s head swiveled from side to side. He had looked earlier, but it was in that moment that he saw it for the first time.

The sales force looked different to him. Not so hard edged. Nor so pushy. Oh, they were still persistent but it came across as totally more effective than his old methods. They were more “put together’ than his pot-bellied self. Pleasingly attractive and softer. Curvier.

“See that?” Mel asked. “That is our competition. They are the new deal makers.”

Three young female executive-types strolled past. Charley noticed their look. It was as if they had donned a uniform. Skirts and blazers of red were their tunics; a look that exuded confidence. The ladies were in the element that they had created. They were very professional with a gait that was assured, driven and synchronized, all stepping off with the same foot. An army of ‘go-getters” on the march, sans jackboots. Their black pumps served their purpose nicely. They were dressed for one thing: SUCCESS!

Charley Barton’s shoulders slumped. His head hung in a dejected sway. At that moment, Barton knew he was washed up. It was clearly obvious he didn’t have the heart for the game any longer. Hell, it was very apparent that he didn’t even have the legs for it.

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