Success By Default
On one particular sales call I had invited the
Purchasing Director for a major prestigious department store to
lunch at the Oyster Bar of the Plaza Hotel. Sam was
to come along. I was trying to sell them the
business return advertising envelopes to use with
their revolving credit invoices.
We met at the restaurant and I
Sam to Jack Dobson, my perspective client. When we
were seated, Sam proceeded to remove his polyester
suit jacket, open his shirt collar, loosen his tie,
tuck his dinner napkin into his open collar, roll up
his sleeves and light up a cigarette. I felt
embarrassed, like I just got caught cheating on a
test. Here I was trying to impress a potential
client from an elite department store and my sales manager was acting like a slob.
Who would want to do business with us?
The waiter came over to take our drink orders and
leave us the menus, before he could get a word out
of his mouth, Sam said in a loud voice, “I’ll have a
Piña Colada” I wanted to crawl under the table. My
sophisticated guest ordered a glass of white wine and I had a wine
For lunch, I ordered a salad and a plain piece of
broiled fish. Jack had asked for a salad and grilled
shrimp. After Sam finished his second cigarette, he
polished off a large appetizer of fried calamari,
washed it down with a second Piña Colada, followed
by almost half a loaf of bread and butter.
I was nursing my drink. I am a cheap drunk, one
glass of wine and I can sleep all day. When our
salads arrived, I used a little oil and vinegar. I
don’t remember what Jack had on his salad but my
hero and mentor was asking for more Russian dressing
and another loaf of bread, while popping antacid
tablets like I eat M & M’s.
When lunch arrived, my fish was done just right.
I asked our guest if his dish was all right as Sam
was asking the waiter for a side order of French
fries to go along with his fried mixed seafood
All during lunch, he ate with a lit cigarette
sitting in the ashtray neither Jack nor myself
smoked. Twice during lunch the waiter came over to
change the ashtray for a clean one.
Dessert was the next disaster. Jack and I ordered
just coffee my hero had cappuccino and pecan pie
alamode. This guy was a walking time bomb. No wonder
he had heart problems.
We finished lunch and I told Jack that I would
call him in a few days to follow up on our
discussions. As we walked away from the restaurant,
Sam started to critique our lunch date. He said that
I should have been more relaxed as a potential
client feels up tight if I sit there with my jacket
on and shirt buttoned up.
I guess he never heard that neatness counts.
He said, “Let’s catch a cab back to the office,”
I said that I had wanted to follow up on a sales
lead and would meet him there later. There was no
sales lead. I just didn’t want to be around him, he
made my skin crawl.