The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

File cabinets and a yellow rose

on July 29, 2014
Stuck in the middle of black and white - in this case!

In the middle of black and white.

A young woman raised to believe the husband provides, no need for college as a career or establishing a way of self-sustaining. Get married. Have babies. Live happily ever after.

A young woman, recently divorced with two children who liked to eat between three and seventeen times a day and have clothing with labels to match their friends, and needed dentist and doctor visits and haircuts and shoes and socks on and on.

A young, not so courageous, divorced woman accepts a job with an office supply company as an outside sales representative traveling 500+ local miles per week, opening new territory, securing already existing accounts. Route sales. Monday – Ashland. Tuesday – Point Pleasant. Wednesday – Grayson. And so on. Repeat weekly.

A young woman who repeatedly parks her car on the outskirts of towns to pray and coax herself to cold call. To walk into unfamiliar territory, enter offices lining main streets. Chilling. Forty years later it still makes my stomach slightly churn. Kind of like I felt with my first blog post!

Two years or so into the job, an experienced woman hears from her boss, “Lucky you. ABC Company, a Fortune 500 company, signed a national furniture contract with Steelcase and we are the closest dealer. Take them a catalog and introduce yourself.”

I did and repeatedly called every week for many months with no order. And then…Jackpot. Remodeling and furniture needs precipitated orders. Big orders for me. Wonderful commission orders! Filing cabinets. All the same size. All the same color. For several months the orders flew in and then, all of a sudden the line of communication crumbled and the colors of the cabinets we were shipping were the wrong color. How could black be so complicated? ???

One Tuesday while loading my car for the route deliveries my boss confesses, “We did it again. We sent three cabinets the wrong color. You might have hell to pay when you call on ABC today. I’ve talked to him and he’s very upset.”

I contemplate my scolding on the two hours drive while in and out of my accounts. Talk about a long and winding road.

A fun part of that day was a regular call to a florist who nearly always gave me a flower which I routinely stuck in my 3-ring order book and would carry for the rest of the day. This particular Tuesday my gift was a lovely yellow, long stem rose. The rose stuck me a couple of times but the fragrance and color was so beautiful I carried it determinedly.

I arrive at ABC, sign in at the sales rep receiving area and sit with several suited gentlemen who carry briefcases and probably do “big” business at this manufacturing location. I have on a blue shirtwaist, heels, no hose, loose hair. No suit for the route sales rep. I could be more casual and familiar.

I sit. I wait. The big wig sales boys do nod to me in a dismissive sort of way and no one talks. We wait. This event predates cell phone so no one is even on Facebook or checking email which have not yet come into existence. No television blasts distraction. Every cough or throat clearing or shuddfe sound is exaggerated. I wiggle in my seat and want this confrontation over with. My company messed up. What can I do? Apologize again? I just want this call over with.

Mr. Purchasing Agent, at last, gently opens the door — just a crack, only a couple of inches. He nods to the big boys and then points to me, beckons me, Come on in, with his pointer finger. The execution begins. I rise to meet my fate. The boys twist in their chair at my being called out of turn. They arrived first. I stand and take a deep breath.

I follow a silent Mr. Purchasing Agent a ways down a hall to where he opens a door into the plant itself. Noise. Immediate noise. “Here put this on.” He hands me a beat up hard hat (that is so far out of sync with my outfit!). Inside the plant we make our way past huge wizzing, wherrring, moving equipment and machinery. Loud and chaotic. Blue collar workers in overalls, hard hats and steel toed boots move adeptly. He leads me to a loading dock where forklifts crawl like ants. Moving huge crates.

“Does this look tan to you?”

“No, sir.” I know this, even though my head is bobbling under the weight and size and discomfort of the nasty hard hat. One shouldn’t wear a hard had with high heels.

A line of black file cabinets, fifteen or so stand back lit with remorse, stupid mistakes and unacceptable excuses. I follow him back to his office, fluffing my hair. He gets behind his desk and motions for me to sit.

I pull the yellow rose out of the 3-ring binder. I tear each thorn off and lay them in front of me and I place the rose on the scribbled, dirty desk calendar in front of him.

“Your replacements will be here before noon today. I don’t know what to say. I am sorry. We are wrong. I say you get to be the rose and we will be the pricks.”

I remember he did not pick up the rose. I remember that the cabinets got replaced and that the color mistake was never made again. He did continue to order from me until he was transferred. The rose incident never surfaced again. I did leave there through the sales rep receiving area after only about 15 minutes without the very obvious rose. Mr. Purchasing Agent had to do something with it before the next guy was called in. What was the fate of that lovely yellow rose?

6 responses to “File cabinets and a yellow rose

  1. Leslie Gallaher says:

    Wonderful story. I remember those days.


  2. LonicarenmartinDuncan says:

    Hope he pulled out his top desk drawer and laid “peace rose”
    on top of other memorabilia that proved he had a good and productive day.


  3. Sara Lane says:

    Excellent story. You were great at that job, providing for all of us. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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