the lost man chronicles
49. death of a salesman
I'm a pretty good salesman.
I can sell when I need to. Wares, concepts, myself. Air even. Nike does. My father likes to regale the tale of a mentor who sold bottled air. He claims he was there.
I believe him.
Fuck! They sell water. Water. Brought a bottle this morning.
At 35, I have successfully sold many things to many people. And more than I am impressed by this ability, I am awestruck by the agility of the sale. People are so desperate and lonely and longing to have meaning in their life that they are willing to buy anything that might give it to them, even if it comes in the form of simply having someone to talk to when calling the 1-800 "as seen on TV" line. The sharpest salesmen know how to take advantage of this gullible vulnerability. "It's all about psychology," my father likes to say.
Alas, albeit I vowed long ago that a life of sales was not for me, here I am. For ironically it is one of the things I do best.
In fact, I moved away from my small town and my father, and on to this City, in an ill-fated attempt to escape this certain destiny.
Even up to almost the last day before my fateful departure, the looming cloud would not go away. The lesson was made clear and proved ominously inescapable when I placed an ad for my car, figuring I'd peddle it to some smart sucker within a few weeks, because actually I maintained it with meticulous care and was ecstatic about going somewhere where I would not need one. I ended up handing over the keys and the pink slip the very first day. I was so surprised, that I did not realize that I should cancel the classified and ended up paying two weeks worth for a moot advertisement.
Alas, there is another lesson I learned back then which did not sink in until now.
A decade ago I conceptually understood the language and the principle, but I had yet to speak the truth of the experience myself.
Having sold half of my unworldly possessions by mid-morning at my moving away yard sale, I began employing all the basic tactics to sell the rest. My smart sales pitch worked so well that I even sold a giddy gentleman a fairly new pair of soccer cleats which were two-sizes too big for him. I knew he was liable to get intolerable blisters, but nonetheless I proceeded to convince him that all he had to do was put on an extra pair of socks. He handed me the cash, I handed him the box.
However, the clock stopped and my streak ended when a genteel old lady approached. We exchanged niceties about the beautiful California day, and I began to say how much she could probably use this or that when she smiled and stopped me mid-tract. "Sonny," she said, "Sorry, but no thank you. When you get to be my age, you already have two of everything."
Those few and simple words immediately impacted me then and there. So much so, that I think I simply let the wares sell themselves for the rest of the afternoon, and then just gave the rest away to Goodwill or in good will to stragglers toward the end.
I carried her words and wisdom with me across the country and occasionally remind myself that less is more whenever I am tempted to step inside any store. I have to tell berate myself sometimes knowing I don't need more materials and possessions because, as the kind lady said, I'll eventually have it all twice over.
However, this morning a deeper meaning to this maxim took effect. Once again, at a mere 35, perhaps only half-way through being alive, I am beginning to see double and believe that I've see it all. For I am starting to encounter two people for every not-so-common experience, and it is a bit disheartening.
What one might automatically presume is so unique and idiosyncratic is proving to be strangely repetitive. A déjà vu of human experience which no longer has the awe-effect attached to it.
Personally, for a while now, I have realized how sadly trite my own behavior, mannerisms, expression, gestures, and words even, are. Every once in a while I get a little depressed about it because it is such an overwhelming portent pointing toward mediocrity, but then I write about it and I am happy again.
But now, as I have begin seeing the patterns of what is presumably bizarre, odd or eccentric I freak out a little bit and think "fuck, nothing is new anymore." I knew that already, but you really don't know anything until you experience it yourself.
So, as the old lady said, it seems that not only do we end up having at least two of everything, but it appears that eventually, we will see two of everyone as well.
blazing insight .48 50. the insight in the middle