THE TURN ABOUTby
the beginning of my job in Texarkana
I was on the air for only a couple of hours, spending the rest of the day drumming
up sales. The manager reasoned that because I was from nearby New
Boston I should have no problem bringing in a lot of revenue from there. I
learned quickly there is a big difference between being a customer and a seller.
The first business I called on was a grocery store where my mother and I had shopped
for years. The manager greeted me with a big smile and asked where I had been
for so long. I thought this was going to be a piece of cake. Wrong. After the
customary small talk I got down to brass tacks and told him why I was there. It
was like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. His cherubic smile was instantly replaced
by an expression of utter contempt.|
Everything I tried to tell him was
interrupted with complete negativity. Absolutely nothing appealed to him and he
made no bones about it. I kept my cool for a long time and tried to ignore his
animosity. I was proud of my self control, for I must confess that I can be quite
combative if provoked. He finally went too far when he started picking our station
apart and then even got down to personal remarks about me. It was almost as if
he was testing me to see how far he could go before I blew up. He found out.
warning I cracked. I slammed down my brief case and leaned over the counter with
my face only inches from his. The verbal assault I inflicted on him was a classic.
The main point I made was that if he wouldn't even listen to what I had to say
the least he could do was to keep a civil tongue in his mouth. I added that if
he didn't want to buy air time on our station that was fine with me but he had
damn sure better quit bad mouthing a place of business that I was proud of. I
also told him what he could do with his store and not to expect me or my mother
to ever set foot in his place again. I knew then that I was not cut out for sales
After that little episode I was almost afraid to return to the radio
station. I expected the boss to be waiting at the door for me after receiving
a scathing phone call from the New Boston grocer. Nothing happened that day to
my relief. In fact, he never did get that call I dreaded so much. After I got
up my nerve I approached the program director about the possibility of getting
out of sales completely and devoting full to announcing. He was delighted and
informed me that he had been hoping I would do just that. Traditionally, the big
money in radio is in sales but I knew I could never face another client without
fear of a repeat of what had happened a few days earlier.
The next time
I went to visit my mother in New Boston she told me, among other news, that she
had gone to the store and the manager had told her what a fine son she had and
she should be proud of him. He even said he hoped I that would drop in more often.
I never did figure that one out. Maybe it was like Lou Grant said to Mary Tyler
Moore. "You got spunk kid!".