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The Salesman   By:

The Salesman by Waldo T. Boyd

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction March 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


By Waldo T. Boyd

SALESMAN'S GUIDE, RULE 2: The modern 1995 customer who enters Tracy's Department Store is not always right, but as far as you are concerned, he is.

The little green cue light blinked three times. Trevor Anson arranged his tie at just the nattily precise angle, waved his hand before a hidden lighting effect switch in the smooth marble pillar at the entrance to the display room, and faced the elevator. This would be a "green light" customer a first time prospect, and three blinks indicated a very difficult individual. Anson quickly practiced his most beguiling smile.

"Welcome to Tracy's Roboid Department," he said, enthusiastically, as the elevator doors slid open. His practiced smile was just right.

He quickly noted the man's conservative dress, the flaming red tie. Aggressive type, Anson decided. A shock of red hair that didn't want to lie down hinted that he was stubborn as well.

"Heard you've got a sale on robots," Red tie said, challengingly, as he stepped aside for his wife.

The woman who stepped off the elevator smiled, showing a lovely dimple, and Anson beamed on her. The tiny flake of a hat perched atop her auburn hair reminded Anson of the comb on a Rhode Island Red.

"Not robots, sir," Anson corrected diplomatically. "The Plasti Cast Roboid is not exactly a robot."

"Well, anyhow, trot one out, and let's see what it looks like. Millicent will never be satisfied until she's seen one of the things." He glared dramatically in the general direction of his wife, who pretended not to notice.

Anson led them into the Gray Room. He mentally went over the applicable rule: Rule 23; Always introduce the marked down merchandise first. It may provide the customer with an incentive for buying something better.

"These are last year's models," he said, with just the right flavor of distaste in his voice. "Of course, you may expect a slight reduction ... a small percentage...."

Red tie was muttering. "Damned mechanical things, full of wheels and wires. What's to keep 'em from running amok and killing us all!"

"But dear, they don't have wheels anymore," protested the woman, timidly. Her face was pretty, Anson decided, but it was obvious that the man would be the deciding factor in this sale.

He made a mental note: Rule 31: Pick the individual of a family group who seems to hold the deciding voice, and SELL! He remembered a portion of a sales talk he had memorized a few days before, and took it up, almost chanting:

"... our Roboids are grown, much as crystals are grown, in great vats in New Chicago. A Plasti Cast Roboid is guaranteed...."

"A fat chance we'd have of collecting the guarantee if we were chopped into mincemeat," Red tie interrupted, shuddering slightly as the implication of his own words hit him.

Anson felt a moment of panic as he failed to remember an applicable rule from the Salesman's Guide, but it formed in his mind at the last moment: Rule 18: Never argue with a customer change the subject.

"Why don't you come with me to the Green Room?" he asked. "The very latest models are on display." He walked slowly at first, then more quickly as the couple allowed themselves to be led. He slid his hand near a hidden switch in the archway, and floodlights came on just as they entered.

The woman uttered a little squeal of delight at the sight of a very handsome figure dressed in a cutaway, standing in an attitude of service.

"Oh!" she breathed dreamily. "He would make such a wonderful butler."

"Well, wind him up and let's see what he'll do," growled the man, his face florid in the colored light of the Green Room... Continue reading book >>

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