It was a gloomy Friday morning, and it had rained the night before. The locals were happy for the rain. But not me. The clouds made the town look like any of the dozen places I’d been to in the past few weeks. Life on the road, which always looked so glamorous, had turned into a non-stop series of sleepless nights, blurred meetings, and over-cooked meals.
I was more than ready to go home. But I needed to stay one more day and night before I could feel the anticipation of the wheels touching down in my hometown. There was still one more meeting, one more sales pitch, and hopefully one more agreement to negotiate. Ahh, the life of the road warrior.
I dragged my tired body from bed and into the shower. Already so tired of dry soap and perfumed shampoo, I decided to just rinse quickly and get dressed in my rumpled black suit and yellow tie. It was my lucky closing tie, though, the one that I hoped would work today.
While getting ready, I caught myself daydreaming of walking along the beach with my wife and kids, heading to my imaginary beach house. It was nice to be comfortably wealthy and retired from the road—even for just a few minutes before realizing time was against me.
8:30 a.m. Need to hurry. Grab breakfast and catch a cab for the morning sales meeting. It’s not that I really believed in our product, but at least it wasn’t harmful. My company had been making Energy-All for about two years. Energy-All held the patent for the only organic energy drink and, even with this distinction, it was difficult to penetrate the saturated energy drink market.
The breakfast line at Anywhere Inn & Suites was long, but I waited patiently. When I reached the buffet station, I wondered if the powdered eggs and soggy waffles were worth the ten-minute wait. But, beggars can’t be choosers, I told myself, knowing that the room and breakfast had only cost $79. Best price on the north side. But now I needed to hurry.
9:10 a.m. Will I ever see a taxi? The hotel clerk placed the call for me. It should have been here by now. It’s not that I’m impatient. Okay, it is that I’m impatient. Need to make sure I get there on time. We need this sale!
I stepped closer to the curb to see further down the street, and
The Regional Transit Bus slammed by, splashing a mix of water, mud, and road oil onto my already rumpled suit.
“Not the tie, please not the tie!” I yelled. Thank goodness, the lucky closing tie was spared.
I stood there contemplating what to do next when my cab arrived. It was story of my life: being at the right place just a few minutes too late.
I crammed myself into the back of the taxi and decided to clean up at Bev-More’s headquarters before meeting with Nathaniel J. Hudgins, CFO and director of product placement.
“1616 Sycamore,” I told the taxi driver.
“North or south?”
“South, I think,” I told him while fumbling, without success, for correspondence. Oh well. I’m sure I’m right, trying to visualize Bev-More’s letterhead. 1616 South Sycamore. Yeah, that’s right.
9:35 a.m. Definitely not what I expected. Kind of a dumpy building I thought as we pulled up to 1616 South Sycamore. I paid the taxi driver, gathered my samples, and stepped onto the sidewalk. Yes, I had rolled the dice and won! Bev-More’s tailored logo was engraved on the glass door.
Once inside, I found the men’s room near the lobby. I hurried into stall three. Armed with toiler paper, I wiped the mud residue from my suit and proclaimed myself presentable. Fifteen minutes later, I strode into the lobby of Bev-More, the nation’s largest beverage distributor.
It was a miracle even getting a chance to meet with Bev-More. If Bev-More liked your product, you could guarantee people from coast to coast would soon be drinking it—and even singing your jingle. But, I was lucky. My brother-in-law attended the same university as Hudgins and arranged the meeting for me. I straightened my lucky tie and approached the receptionist.
“Mr. Hudgins, please,” I said.
“Energy-All? He’s been expecting you. Please have a seat; his assistant will be with you shortly,” the gorgeous brunette responded.
Apparently “shortly” in Bev-More terms meant twenty-three minutes, to be exact, but who’s counting? The walk to Mr. Hudgins office was long, as we meandered around neatly organized cubicles with people buried in paperwork and files.
“Quite an operation you have here,” I said making small talk.
“Yes, we are proud of Bev-More,” Mr. Hudgins’ assistant replied. The assistant couldn’t have been twenty-five years old but carried herself in a way that belied her years. Her neat wool suit was in direct contrast to my rumpled and previously muddy, wet, and oily suit. But I felt good. I was wearing the tie, after all.
Hudgins’ office was modest in size but exquisitely decorated. I recognized the two Eames chairs from some design-on-a-budget catalog, but these were the real thing.
Hudgins peered over his glass desk at me. “Sorry for my dress, but it’s casual Friday around here,” he said as I noticed his pressed polo shirt that must have cost more than my entire ensemble including shoes.
I liked him. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I liked him.
I went through my pitch. He listened intently and asked great questions. After about 50 minutes, I asked him if Bev-More would distribute Energy-All. Cooly, he replied that he would sleep on it and call me in on Saturday. I left two sample cans with him and bid him goodbye, hoping the product would do what apparently I could not.
Saturday’s flight was crowded but I didn’t care that I had the middle seat. I was heading home. As the pilot prepared for landing, I imagined sitting in my favorite recliner and watching the ball game with my two boys, then grilling my famous burgers and having a cold beer with my wife. Opening the door to my house, I received the hero’s welcome. Both boys ran up, hugs all around. My wife also waited at the door to greet me, her face aglow. Even the dog made strange squealing sounds as he danced around the living room.
As we stood in the foyer, my phone buzzed as a text came in from Hudgins:
Set up distribution of 45,000 lots.
We’ll start in the north and work to the south.
Energy-All all around!
I was home. I was safe. My family was well. And the closing tie worked again!
SMPS President Craig Galati, AIA, FSMPS, CPSM, is principal of LGA in Las Vegas, NV. He can be reached at 702.263.7111 or [email protected].