Monday, November 19, 2007

If it wasn't for you he wouldn't be dead now...

Ten years ago I did something that I'd never done before and have never done since.

I employed a sales rep.

Not just any old sales rep though, oh no, this was Maurice the super sales rep from our biggest rivals, a much bigger company who employed twenty sales reps nationwide - and Maurice was consistently their best sales rep, year after year - the other sales reps all had Fords and Vauxhalls, Maurice had a BMW, thats how well they thought of him, worst still Maurice was based in Hull and often murdered us on enquiries.

But the year that I employed him something dramatic happened in his life - he reached the age of sixty - nothing too dramatic there then I hear you say, except for the fact that the company that employed him had a policy to retire everyone at the age of sixty, thats everyone, even your best ever sales rep, the one with the BMW, even him.

He approached me and asked if I needed a sales rep, I told him that I do all the sales, me, the one who has never had any sales training in his life, I do it all me, he suggested that I might be better employed managing the rest of the company while he did the selling, told me that he would easily pay his overhead cost in the first six months, I believed him and employed him, leased a Ford Mondeo for him and everything.

He was right, he was shit-hot as a rep, he could sell anything and even starting with a completely new product range he covered his overheads from month one onwards.

I once went with him to demonstrate some software to a potential client, spent an hour going through everything (fairly normal for a "proper" demonstration), answered all the questions, got a vague promise that they'd order it at some unspecified point in the future, I was happy, it had gone well, we left the building and I asked Maurice, who hadn't said a word for the last hour, what he thought of my selling technique,

"You take too long" he said
"How long would you have taken ?" I asked, intrigued
"If I hadn't sold it within fifteen minutes I'd have been out of there" he answered, "you've just wasted the rest of the morning waffling on in there"
"It takes an hour to show them everything" I argued
"Don't show them then" he replied, "just tell them it does everything and ask for an order"
"Never mind" I replied, a little subdued now, "I think they'll order"
"You shouldn't have left without the order" he replied "at the very least you should come back tomorrow and ask for it"

So he went back the next day and asked them for an order, and they gave him one, he was shit-hot as a rep, much better than me, I gave him a laptop to demonstrate the software on, he never even opened it, he sold off leaflets, bluff and nerve.

He'd came to us in the February and on the first week in August I was getting ready to fly to Menorca for a holiday when I took a phone call from his Icelandic partner to tell me that he was in hospital - he'd been taking his two dogs for a walk the previous night and the small terrier had spotted something in the dark and set off running while still on the lead, pulling Maurice over and breaking his thigh bone.

I visited him in hospital that afternoon where he'd had an operation to set the bone, he was extremely apologetic, I told him not to worry, we'd sort something out when I got back from Spain, he could work from home and do telesales, whatever, we'd work something out.

After two weeks holiday I came back to be told that Maurice had died a few days earlier, I laughed,

"No" I said, "Maurice just broke his leg, you don't die from a broken leg"
"Maurice did" they insisted, "he died Thursday, its his funeral tomorrow"
"Fook me" I thought out loud, "I leased his car for two years - bollax"

So I went to his funeral and because it was in Hull I took along Dennis, the tourettes service engineer, remember Dennis here and here ?

And after the funeral we were invited back to Maurices house where his Icelandic widow had done a buffet and served cups of tea and suchlike and we stood around in Maurices dining room and made polite conversation in mumbled tones so as not to upset the widow, after all it had all been a big shock for her, he takes the dogs out for a walk, falls over and ten days later he's dead.

With a bit of delicate questioning I found out that Maurice had always had high blood pressure and a heart condition and the explanation from the hospital was that the blood circulation to his broken leg wasn't that good after the operation and two days before he died he'd had to have the leg amputated and had died from blood poisoning, all of this was explained to me very quietly by a family friend while Dennis the tourettes service engineer wandered around the room looking at the cards that had been sent from well-wishers which ranged from "Get Well Soon you Daft Old Sod" from the first news of his fall through "Sorry to Hear of the Loss of your Leg" and finally on to "In Deepest Sympathy".

Dennis wandered the room reading them all out loud to me, shouting out the well-wishing messages across the room, I did my best to "shush" him but inevitably he reached the "Sorry about the Amputation" card that the surgeon had sent and Dennis stopped and re-read loudly it several times just in case anyone in the neighbourhood had not heard the news, finishing with a loud "I didn't - hupfuck - know he'd - hoopwhoo- had his -fffffuck- leg chopped off, did you ?"

It was time to leave before Dennis upset the Icelandic widow anymore and I grabbed him by the sleeve and led him to the door, "Are we - hmmphfuck - leaving ?" he asked.

The Icelandic widow waited at the front door to bid us farewell, tears brimming in her crystal clear cyan eyes, I professed my deep sorrow and put on my best sorrowful face whilst wondering what the hell I was going to do with the Ford Mondeo for another eighteen months and made to drag Dennis out of the house before he could upset her even more, but he insisted on professing his sorrow too inbetween "hmphfuck" and "harrumphfuck", which sort of detracted from the "sorrow" part of his message somewhat, but just as I thought he'd managed to pull it off without too much damage the little terrier dog wandered into the hall and brushed up against his leg, he kicked it away somewhat brusquely, then looking down on the small dog that had been treated almost as a son by Maurice and his Icelandic wife he siad the imortal words...

"Just think, -huppfuck - if it wasn't for you he wouldn't be dead now..."

The Icelandic widow stared down at the terrier and the truth of what Dennis had said slowly registered in her eyes as saucepan-like tears started to fall from her cheeks, it was time to leave quickly and I dragged Dennis down the garden path by the scruff of his neck,

"What did you say that for ?" I shouted
"Well, - hupppmmm - its true isn't it ?"

There was a childlike simplicity to Dennis's brain that surpassed all understanding.

Two weeks after Maurice's demise, Harry another of my service engineers died, (we went through a whole series of demises within that twelve months) I didn't take Dennis to Harry's funeral though.


Anonymous said...

As Dennis would say! hmmphfuck,hupppmmm. POTW bollax :(

Gary said...

Have you got a link to POTW ?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Your opinion ?

Gary said...

Its erm, ok :)

Anonymous said...
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