Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Other Gift of the Magi

It's nearly Christmas. No, not when I'm writing this, but when it will see the light of day. It's July and I'm slipping this into a time capsule for revival when the frost is on the bumpkins and the chestnuts are in the fire.

When I was a lad, about eight or nine, as I recall, twelve tops, we were living in southern Indiana. Jeffersonville. (Hopefully Thomas and not Davis, or the PC crowd will change it!) One year, my older brother (bother in the first draft. Typo or Freudian?) and sister saw a design in some magazine for some handmade, do-it-yourself jewelry. Earrings, pins, necklaces... something like that. I vaguely remember they were made out of cork balls and a little bit of black velvet ribbon and pins through glass beads.
(Actually, they kind of put me in mind of those old WWII sea mines with all the spikes all over them, but very colorful and festive! )

I was the youngest of we three and not terrible suited for production. The big kids handled that. I was in sales. I was youngest and thereby the cutest of the bunch. (No brag, just fact!) So I was delegated to go door to door in the cold December winds and sell these bits of jewelry and perhaps some clumps of mistletoe as well, tied up with red curling ribbon.

Anyhow, out into the cruel December winter trudged I, with a sack or a wagon or some such, I don't recall, full of Christmacy merchandise to sell. 'Tis the season! My siblings had set the prices (marketing) and as I recall I did pretty well the first couple of houses. By the time I got to about the third door, the homeowner must have startled me, or I was nervous about talking to strangers, because when they opened the door they demanded "how much for the small jewelry?" For, you see, there were two sizes, a large and a small, appropriately priced, the larger sizes more than the smaller. Higher labor and material costs, don'tcha know?

For some reason, I got rattled and recited the large jewelry price for the smaller jewelry. Before I could correct myself, the homeowner agreed, paid the price and I was on my way before I fully realized what had happened. Our goods were underpriced for what the market would bear! Since I was the only member of the corporation onsite, I gave myself a small promotion to Joint marketing and Sales, and proceeded to quote the higher prices for the rest of the day.

Now as a kid, I was always good at math, and I knew how many units I had started out with and how many I had sold, and at what prices. So I subtracted the original price of the merchandise, and put the difference into pocket number one. The rest of the money went into pocket number two. Upon my return, cold, slightly frostbitten and hungry, I gave my siblings the entire contents of pocket number two.

They were delighted! Look how much money they had made, from the warmth and comfort of their own living room no less! As management, they then divided up the profits and gave me my share. An honest wage for an honest day's work! I'm sure they were thinking what a chump I was to work all day in the cold and how smart they were to have talked me into it!

I was then rewarded with a bonus for being 'Salesman of the Year', with the content of pocket number one. The awards ceremony was intimate, restricted solely to the sales force, without whom the company would not long survive.

I can't remember if I've ever told this story to my brother or sister. I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out. Think I'll print this out and put it in their Christmas cards. If I live 'til New Years, I'll let you know how that worked out!

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