It had been an awful weekend I hadn’t seen any customers and I hadn’t sold anything I was dreading the Monday morning sales meeting, I had only been with the firm a short while, they were part of a big Manufacturer owned group and they worked a lot differently than the family firm I had been working for previously.
We worked in teams of 2 and this weekend I was with a different guy than I usually was, I shall refer to him as Jack -anory (for reasons that will become obvious later), we sat in the meeting and the Boss asked me what I had achieved, I’m not one to try and make excuses but I tried my best to sound positive, sounding positive wasn’t going to hit my target, although I had kept myself busy by ringing all my prospects I hadn’t got anything to show for it, the bottom line was I had nothing on the go or in my sales pipeline, the Boss’s face looked like thunder he wasn’t a particularly nice person and I didn’t like him at all.
The only consolation was that my sales partner hadn’t sold anything either and at least he would back me up when he told the Boss what he’d done, or that’s what I thought. When he set off reading from his diary the cars that he had sold, the people he had appointed for test drive’s and all the other “ups” he had on for the weekend I started to doubt my own sanity, as far as I knew the only thing that he had done during the weekend was disappear and leave me on my own for a few hours on the Saturday and the Sunday without any explanation.
I was still staring at Jack in disbelief when the Boss turned to me and really laid into me he gave me a right rollocking in front of everyone, “so while he’s been doing all that, what the “facking hell” were you doing? (The Boss was a cockney) I was dumfounded, being new I didn’t want to answer him back and I didn’t want to call the other salesman a liar, so instead I sat there and took it, looking at the floor and offering the odd stutter in my defense, I was the bad guy but Jack seemed to have developed a halo.
I spent the next 2 weeks hitting the phone and trying my hardest to make appointments, I watched Jack very carefully and none of the “Imaginary” people that he had sold cars to or that he had supposedly appointed the previous weekend ever actually transpired into real deals or test drives, you didn’t have to be a Rocket Scientist to figure out his fictitious test drives were so that he could claim petrol chits, my suspicions were confirmed when I saw him at the fuel station filling his Wife’s car up in exchange for the fictional test drive “chits”
I like my food and for my lunch, I would occasionally go round to the local pub and have a steak lunch and a coke a cola, it was on one of these outings I saw Jack pull up outside in a brand new car with trade plates on, he had a customer in the passenger seat, the next few minutes were like a comedy sketch, Jack breezed in through the double doors of the pub like he was entering a Wild West Saloon, he went to the bar and ordered 2 pints of their Extra Strength Bitter he didn’t even appear to swallow as he poured one after the other down his throat, in the meantime, his customer was making himself comfortable in the driver’s seat, Jack then took his packet of extra strong mints from his pocket and returned to his “real” test drive.
The next weekend I was on with Jack was equally disastrous, 2 customers came looking for him and I couldn’t find him, he wasn’t answering the tannoy so I had to try and deal with them, Jack had actually hidden in the valeting cupboard. Jack spent a lot of time in the Valeting cupboard he seemed to have some form of OCD and was always going in to get some Mr Sheen to clean his desk. Customer number 1 explained that he had been promised Mats and Mudflap’s in the deal and he had got neither when he picked the car up, Jack had told him that they were out of stock at the factory and he would ring him as soon as they came off “backorder”, I knew Jack was spinning him a yarn, so I took his details and told him that I would pass the message on to our parts department.
The second customer had a slightly more disturbing problem, he had got his logbook back from the DVLA and he said that they had incorrectly put it was an 1100 cc car and not a 1300cc, I was getting a little suspicious about Jack’s sales techniques so after taking the customers details and promising him a return phone call, I went and dug his file out, he had indeed been charged for a 1300 cc model but the photocopy of the manufacturer’s invoice clearly showed that the car was the cheaper 1100 cc version, there was no visible difference between the two, but accidentally on purpose he had got an inferior cheaper car, Jack was digging himself a hole that was going to collapse on him soon.
I let Jack go first in the sales meeting and he spouted an equal load of tripe, for me it was like being in the “Twilight Zone” I couldn’t believe that the Boss never suspected that he was bullshitting or asked what happened to all the other customers that were supposed to be buying cars, but it had come to my notice that he too was very fond of his liquid lunches, it seemed that the Boss and Jack were drinking to forget, and it was working. There was a program on TV when I was a Kid called Jackanory where a famous person would read a story from a book, as soon as my sales partner opened his diary I would sing “Jackanory, Jackanory” under my breath and much to the amusement of the other lads
Jack reeled off all his imaginary dealings over the weekend, he had actually sold one car and he tried to get me involved by saying that he had shown me the part exchange as I had come from a Vauxhall Garage and I knew how much they were worth if he was getting me involved it would probably be to cover up another cock-up, and in any case, I can’t lie for myself, so I wasn’t going to lie for him, neither am I a “Grass”, so I said he must have gotten mixed up with someone else as I hadn’t seen It, nothing else was said about his deals and so it was my turn
I reported that I had 2 signed orders both with deposits but then I had to endure another cross-examination as to why I wasn’t pulling my weight, why I hadn’t seen half as many customers and why I hadn’t done as many test drives, the Boss had all the clues in front of him, he put them all together and in complete opposite to a Sherlock Holmes logical explanation he eliminated the “Possible” and was left with only the “Impossible”, so he deduced that it was me who was slacking, I dropped myself in it further by protesting that “If all these customers had been in the showroom, I must have been nodded off at my desk” I was being sarcastic, but the Boss was beginning to think I was having blackouts.
I had hit my target and I wanted a weekend off, actually, that was just really a plausible excuse not to work with Jack, one of the other Salesman wasn’t doing very well so I offered to give him one of my deals if he would cover for me at the weekend and he readily agreed, I immediately regretted my ploy as when I arrived at work on the Monday morning, the Sales Manager was sat at my desk waiting for me, I was marched into the Boss’s office.
They both looked deadly serious and I thought perhaps they were going to reprimand me for swapping weekends, but I was at a loss when the Boss reached down and lifted up a grey rubbish bin “Do you mind explaining this Please” although judging from their expressions I was in a grave situation the opportunity that presented itself was just too good to miss, so I said “No Problem Boss, That’s a bin, when you have any litter or waste paper you put it in that, rather than throw it on the showroom floor and make the place look untidy”.
“You facking smart arse, I mean these that we found in your waste bin!” with that he turned the bin upside down and out fell half a dozen empty cans of Carlsberg Special Brew, with hindsight I think they must have been searching for something that could explain the Blackouts that they thought I was experiencing at the weekends but they had to have a rethink when I told them someone else was the culprit as I had been off.
I really enjoyed the Monday Morning sales meeting, it was like watching Tennis and episode of “Columbo” except Peter Falk had been replaced by a Cockney Git, Jack did well to come up with a plausible story that was almost believable; if you were a half-wit, “a customer must have emptied them out of his old car, when he picked his new one up”, only one car had been delivered that weekend so a quick phone call would have solved the mystery but the Boss didn’t want to cause the customer any embarrassment, we were all warned that he was watching us, and that he would continue his inquiries, this could still be trouble for me as the guy couldn’t find his arse with both hands, especially after lunch.
The next couple of weeks suspicions moved away from me as I seemed to have my Blackouts under control and I was handling as many enquiries as my new partner, our valeter had also sustained a nasty gash to his head and a suspected concussion. He was almost knocked out when a half-full bottle of whisky dropped on his head while he was moving a box off the shelf in his cupboard, everyone knew that It couldn’t be mine as I considered the valeting cupboard to be a no go area and strictly off-limits.
Cockney Columbo’s investigation was given another accidental shot in the arm by the plumber who had come to see what was causing our showroom to flood during the heavy rainfall, he discovered the sluice pipe that ran directly under Jackanory’s desk was blocked up with empty Whisky Bottles and Empty Cans of Carlsberg Special Brew, when Jack couldn’t fit any more of his empties down the sluice he had put them in my waste bin.