Greg Simon is an ordinary man, a salesman, a father, a widower, who just happens to discover that he is “the Knowledge Holder,” the one person who knows a great secret the rest of humanity does not know, and with it comes a unique ability to help others. Nothing is standing in his way – except for a team of FBI agents who specialize in national security issues. Greg’s new-found knowledge, if unleashed on the public, would give life a new meaning, and change the world forever.
The appointment unfolded with tiresome predictability. My client, wearing a finely woven pastel sweater and coordinating pinkish blush of anticipation, sat with an unsettled, erect posture across from me. She had just purchased a new home. With it came the standard new home backyard, which was nothing but dirt.
“Have you had a pool before, Ms. Becker?” A more clever opening I’m sure had not been discovered.
“No, but I’ve always wanted one, and I promised myself this would be the house.” This was really good for me to hear, as I not only had to design the pool but sell it as well. With her comment she was in fact assuring me that I had already closed the sale and that I’d have to be some sort of blockhead to screw it up. In sales lingo, this is known as a laydown. Losing a laydown sale is like missing your mouth trying to take a sip of water. Since my shirt had been soaked more than once, I proceeded with my usual professional presentation and hoped for the best.
Such is the life of a swimming pool salesman, or Design Specialist, as my business card so eloquently misrepresents. My office is situated along a quiet hallway in a medium-sized Phoenix homebuilder’s design studio, pressed between a landscaper’s botanically embellished space, and a lighting specialist’s optimistically luminous showroom. When a contract is written for a new home, the buyers are asked if they have any interest in adding a pool. A yes answer gets them a two-hour riveting sit-down with me, Greg Simon, Design Specialist.
Sales started to crumble for my homebuilder about a year ago, and seemingly the next day you could shoot a cannon through my leather-bound appointment book and not hit a drop of ink. Other reps in my company would have proclaimed impending doom and glommed on to an extra account or a part-time gig hawking suds at Chase Field by now. But fortunately for me, I had strung together a number of good years during the boom—very good years—and was quite content watching my workload atrophy into a part-time job. I wasn’t flush with cash or anything, but my intermittently functioning, fertile shard of brain somehow prevented quintessential me from squandering my hard-earned riches. A few good appointments a month and my wallet and I were both rosy with contentment.
In any case, Ms. Becker and I were getting along pretty well, as was her pool design. That’s when things took a turn.
I thought I was just as boring as hell, since she was nodding off listening to me ramble on about the virtues of an in-floor cleaning system. It wasn’t until she actually fell off her chair that I realized maybe it wasn’t just me.
I rushed around my desk to where she had been sitting, hoping she had just slid off during a mini lapse of consciousness. Who could blame her, with my monotone and all? Maybe it was the immediate change of the shade of her skin to something in the pallid family, or maybe it was the way her eyes were wide open while actually not looking at anything that tipped me off. She was dead. This was not the sort of laydown I was hoping for.
To my credit, I didn’t even consider the loss of a sale as I dialed 911. I was, I guess, more scared than anything. I had never seen a dead person before. I was sure though. As a big fan of television crime dramas, I’d had as much exposure to dead bodies as most detectives or old-timey, half-baked coroners.
It seemed that I had just finished my conversation with the 911 operator when the paramedics arrived. This was a good thing, as I was a little more than weirded out by the corpse on the floor of my office. Just before the cavalry appeared, my head was jumping with thoughts of what I should be doing. Was it appropriate or necessary to be thinking of CPR? Not that I knew how to perform this on someone, but again, you watch enough television you should be able to attempt almost anything. Once, I made chicken piccata after watching some Food Network show. It wasn’t bad really and not as hard to make as I thought it would be.
It turns out, the paramedics did all these things for me, or I guess instead of me and for Ms. Becker. After all was said and done, I was right. She was gone. She was packed up and rolled away. I was left with maybe even a more creepy feeling than I’d had when she was still lying there on my office floor.
Harry Margulies has written about romance, money, women, and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about. The balance of his precious time is misspent as an internationally published cartoonist.
Harry is the proud father of two little girls, Jessica and Jill, who somehow are old enough to have graduated college. He resides in the desert city of Scottsdale, Arizona, where it’s imperative to stay hydrated. He lives with Joann, his wife of thirty years, which is the real reason he drinks.
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