A book by it's cover

He was persistent as an Ontario mosquito, and it took about a half hour to get rid of him, so I suppose he was a good salesman. His "line" was the little giftie the business man gives to his customers -- calendars, thermometers, conversion tables, pens and pencils, pocket diaries, and whatalls.This was my first encounter with this prop for the GNP, and my annoyance at being approached at all gave way to curiosity as to why he was here. He shook my hand so my cap flopped up and down, and indicated he had been yearning to do so for at least 35 years. I was certainly fortunate that at last we were in touch and from now on he was at my side ready to help. My business, he said, would be bound to improve and increase as we dealt together in unity. How many calendars did I think I could use?

Then I understood. He was the latest victim of my several signs, and in all innocence had hoist me on my own joke. The last laugh would, as usual, be mine, but now I had to say consecutive noes to about 50 proffered business stimulaters , only one of which interested me -- a ball-point that wrote in five different colors, but not all at once. All of us have accepted such kindnesses from our hardware stores and our insurance agents -- yardsticks, pocket calendars -- without reflecting that somebody goes around and sells the things, or that there is such a variety to be had. I was ready to kick him out long before he had unveiled half his goodies.

My home-workshop is my temple of dalliance. I putter. The closest I ever came to crass commercialism was when Shorty Pontier came in and had me bore a shearpin hole in his haulin' shiv. No problem, and Shorty said, "How much?" I laughed, and to pass things off on an amateur basis I said, "Bring me a short lobster sometime." Shorty never did, but if he had, that would have been my only approach to value received. This super-salesman of enticers certainly misunderstood my situation. He kept reminding me that I could even double my sales.

The major effort of my pleasant career has been to ward off increased efforts. Everybody likes to come around with some idea or other about something I can do, and this interrupts my passion for sitting around idle. True, I can make five whirlygig wind vanes about as fast I can make one, but in my specialized philosophy there is merit in having four more left to do -- if I decide to do them. The assembly line is not for me. To "tool up" for mass production offends my sensitive niceties. I still have a digital steeple clock to finish, and I think 500 ball-points that write in five colors would not (1) bring me too many customers for it or (2) cause me to finish it. I believe an unfinished digital steeple clock may be even better than something else.

This salesman didn't hear me the first five or six times I told him I wasn't interested, so I began to shout, and I shouted, "What in the world makes you think I can use any of this junk?"

Every business, large or small, he told me, needs the warm customer relationship that comes from a small gift, rightly bestowed. "So," I said, "what business is this?"

I have so many signs around that I wasn't sure which had fetched him in. He pointed at the one that says

Ship Chandler

Since 1709

When I told him that was just one of my signs, he looked about at my power tools, my stock of lumber, my unfinished items, and as he began packing up his samples he said, "Then what dom you do?"

Made me think of the Do-Do store upstate. Two elderly brothers kept an old family store going, and were vexed at the outrageous claims of their only competitor, who would offer Sunny Monday soap ten bars for a quarter when he didn't have any Sunny Monday in the place. People would come in and ask the brothers why they didn't offer Sunny Monday ten bars for a quarter. So they bought their only newspaper advertisement, which said,

We don't say we do much,

but what we say we do --


What I say I do, I don't. This trinket salesman went away, looking back at my sign, "Notice to customers -- Commencing July 1, baker's peels in gross lots only." He seemed to be wagging his head.

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