Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bookfield, First Big Sale

I gave 17 demos on Wednesday, after our move, but did not sell any books. I was concerned because I had not sold anything at all yet, and I was supposed to call Robbie on Thursday to check in.

That night we stayed in the sun room behind Mrs. Epps’ bedroom. I would never have guessed that it was on the third floor. The maid took us up the stairs to Mrs. Epps bedroom which covered about half of the size of the house. I guess it had been a master bedroom. Up against the rear wall was a king size canopy bed with Mrs. Epps in it. As that huge bed was lost in the room, was Mrs. Epps lost in that bed. She looked like a tiny dot with covers drawn up around her. She motioned to a door to the right of the bed which led out to the sun room. Mary and I slept on twin beds surrounded by screen windows. Being on the third floor, the room gave the impression that one was in a tree house. The morning sunshine woke us and we were covered with dew. We tiptoed out, so as not to wake Mrs. Epps.

Thursday morning Mary and I went to the Prince Baptist Church’s prayer breakfast that Jessica and Carolyn had invited us to. It was held in the basement of an industrial looking building down the street from Prince Baptist Church. Even though we were on time, 7:30 AM, forty or so people were already there. We later learned that the praying part starts shortly after 7:30, so people come earlier than that for the food. Breakfast was served cafeteria style. Steaming stainless steel trays were still full of eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, pancakes, waffles and grits. I piled my plate high, skipping the grits. During the summer I tried grits with every available spice, dressing or syrup, and never did find them palatable. We ate quickly, so as to be finished before the prayer.

An elder of the church stood, welcomed the crowd and asked for a moment of silent prayer. I bowed my head, prayed to who knows who that I would sell a book, and looked through the top of my eyeglasses for the signal to raise our heads again. Next came the testimonial part of the meeting. Folks stood one by one and revealed spiritual moments they had. This public participatory form of practicing religion was new to me. Most I had ever seen before was a congregation singing hymns. My first thought was, gee, I hope they don’t call on me. What would I say besides, “Thanks for the meal?”

One young woman who seemed to be a contemporary of Jessica and Carolyn stood to welcome a new member of the congregation. He was the star quarterback of the Georgia Bulldogs Football team. He waved and I noticed that he was the only black person in the room. It struck me as odd that the congregation was all white save for this one young man.

Well, they didn’t call on me or Mary for that matter but the service lasted until 8:30 and we were late for the book field. Actually that was one reason that I didn’t go back to the breakfast prayer meetings much. Also, I felt guilty eating their food, and not really praying. What if some day they did call on me? I certainly had nothing spiritual to offer.

I again set out walking to my territory. Exploration was impossible on foot, so I picked up exactly where I left off the previous day. My first house was a ranch that was white with brown trim. I noticed that it had a pretty backyard porch. I knocked on the door and the woman of the house let me in. She led me directly to the backyard porch and invited me to sit on a chaise. I did and gave the demo for the Bible Dictionary perfectly.

Before I could close begin my closing she asked, “Well what else do you have in that case?” I hesitated. This had never happened before. I figured that she was not interested in the Bible Dictionary and proceeded to give the demo for the Family Bible Library. She again asked what else I had, and I proceeded to show her the health book and then educational books. As soon as I finished, she cut me off and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t use the health book.” she paused. “But I will take the others.”

“Which others?” I inquired.

“Well, all of them!”

I was shocked, to say the least. “Okay, lets see now, that’s one Bible Dictionary, one Family Bible Library set, and one set of educational books.” I tried to sound as if it was a routine order, but I was flabbergasted as I wrote up the order slip and tried to figure the total. I didn’t even need the closings. I wondered if she really wanted all of these books, or secretly knew that I was flat broke and desperate to make a sale. The total was over $200 and she gave me half in cash as a deposit. I was flush! I thanked her profusely and left as soon as possible, lest she change her mind. I felt that this sale was the ultimate success.

I hastily found a pay phone to check in with Robbie. He answered on the second ring. “Hi Sue! How’s it going?”

“It was real slow until just recently. I just made a huge sale. My first!” I said and told him the amount.

“Yeah, but what did you get as a deposit?”

“I got half, and in cash!”

“That’s really good Sue, congratulations. But remember its only Thursday and there are two more selling days to the week. Now is not the time to rest on your laurels. If you’re hot, you should capitalize on that. I’ve spoken to Chip and he has agreed to come by and train you tomorrow in your territory. He’s calling in later; just give me the address where he can meet you. He’ll be by at 7:30 in the morning or so. Keep up the good work and don’t forget to fill out the weekly sales report and remit your money on Sunday. Take care, Sue!”

“Okay, Robbie. Bye!” Boy, it was great to call him with good news instead of the dismal news I would have had just an hour ago. I couldn’t wait to try to sell again after my success. I headed back to the houses.


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