Thursday, December 16, 2004

...Goochin' On: Extended Dance Mix

*Over the last few days I’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of daily visitors to this site. Perhaps it’s mere coincidence, but this coincides with the bombshell announcement from Sloth that she will not be continuing to regularly update her wildly popular "Slow Adventures in Slothville" blog. Like anyone else who puts their writing out there to be read, I appreciate the increased readership, but can’t help but feel a little bit like the girl who only gets hit on after her better looking friend has already picked a guy to hook up with.*

Name Dropping
*My college sweetheart, Kari, ran into Peter Tork of the Monkees on a few occasions. It’s a long and boring story, but the short version is that her mom was very into singing and was heavily involved with a local community chorus and by extension was somehow involved in an annual a capella competition that Tork participated in as a judge. In my years of dating Kari I found it highly amusing how she would so often try to work her connection to this most minor of celebrities into conversation. Her preferred device was the "make a confusing comment that leads to a follow-up question" method, i.e. when someone would mention the Monkees Kari would respond with something along the lines of, "Yeah, that Peter Tork sure is a jerk", leading the original commenter to ask,"Really? Have you met him or something?" and thus giving her an opening to share her story. Seeing as how rarely the Monkees tend to come up in daily conversation, I guess it's possible that I may recall this as happening far more often than it actually did.

I bring this up because with the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events film opening up tomorrow, I find myself in the conflicted position of not wanting to look like a name-dropper by mentioning my very vague connection to the writer of the ASOUE series of books, but would feel equally weird pretending that it doesn’t exist. So:

I went to preschool with Lemony Snicket’s younger sister. Our families become close enough friends (particularly our fathers who both worked in the same industry) that we continued to see them occasionally throughout the years, though I don’t think I’ve seen Daniel himself since his sister’s Bat Mitzvah which was, geez, probably 18 years ago. Our relationship is such that I’m sure he would never recognize me by sight and probably not immediately by name, but I bet I could probably get him to remember our connection within a minute or a minute and a half if I explained it well enough.

I wonder if Mr. Handler brags to his friends about his very vague connection to the writer of "The Gooch On..."* That was a joke, for the sarcastically impaired.

Building a Better Boy
*A running joke between my stepsons and I is how I suffered through an abused childhood because my mom would never allow me to have an Atari, Nintendo or any other sort of video game console. It’s funny, my parents for the most part were incredibly easy-going, but that one thing - the notion that video games were a useless, mind-numbing waste of time was something my mom felt very strongly about. I can still get a rise out of her at the mere suggestion that she buy a Playstation game for either of my stepkids when their birthdays come up.

Today, as an adult, I guess I’m somewhat ambivalent on the subject. In looking back at my childhood, I can say that at no point do I remember ever feeling deprived or wanting because many of my friends had game consoles and I did not, but at the same time it’s not as if I spent the time I would otherwise have been rotting my brain playing video games on any particular worthwhile activity like reading Chaucer or teaching myself how to speak Italian. I think it just caused me to spend more time watching wrestling.*

Dry Spells: An Analogy
I think a very legitimate comparison can be made between the dry spells that a person occasionally runs into in his (or her) personal life and a sales slump that often occurs in a salesperson’s professional life. During both, there is a tendency to make far more out of what in any other circumstance would be considered neutral or insignificant statements or gestures. For example, a supermarket cashier’s, "How are you doing today", the same one she gives to anyone who happens to walk through her line and the same one that would usually go completely unnoticed, can be twisted into a "Hmmm, she wouldn’t say that if she didn’t want me now would she?"

Likewise, during a sales slump a professional salesperson will often obsess over accounts that any impartial observer can clearly see has very little interest in actually buying anything. This would have been a good theory to remember before I headed out to Las Vegas on Monday. We were no more than twenty minutes into the drive when simply in the interest of making conversation I asked my business partner, Kevin, who has been going through a terrible sales slump going on a year and half now, how the appointment with the Las Vegas client had come about. I expected him to respond with something about the customer calling him to arrange the meeting because of a project he (the client) was anxious to move forward with. My heart sank when Kevin instead responded that he had left numerous unreturned phone messages and emails for this potential client before finally getting through and practically begging the client to allow us to travel out to Vegas to demonstrate a product for him.

Now, this type of aggressiveness may be considered good salesmanship in some circles, but when you’re traveling 500 miles round trip to meet with a client it’s preferred that it be for an actual, legitimate sales opportunity, not the result of someone agreeing to see you only to avoid further harassment. Turns out they’re probably going to buy something from us, but not a dollar amount high enough to really justify the trip. Not that I don’t appreciate the opportunity to order $10 scotch and sodas at the Ghost Bar at the top of The Palms.

Going back to my dating analogy - this business trip, while fun, was the equivalent of starting out a night thinking you have a real shot at a menage-a-trois with two hot women who are willing to do anything, including anal, and then realizing that even in the best case scenario the most your going to end up with is a hickey.*
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