It takes a certain kind of person to be a salesman.
Most people think of them as dishonest, swindling, commission-hungry snakes. In the 1950’s, however, people regarded salesmen in an entirely different manner than they do now. More often than not, statistically speaking, your average person is less likely to buy something if approached by a salesman. Oddly enough, managers still clamor towards the elusive “up-sell,” and those in the business will tell you all kinds of tips and tricks to being successful.
For example, car salesmen are taught the concept of mirroring. In this pseudo-scientific psychological strategy, the salesman is instructed to reflect all the little ticks a person has in order to become more appealing, create the illusion you’re selling something to yourself. To this point, if you walk into a dealership and pat your hands on your sides every now and again, rest assured, the dealer, if he’s not entirely incompetent, will do so as well. You use a word more than once, and they’ll be sure to weave it into the conversation. As such, I tend to use words such as “haunting” or “salacious” when shopping. According to most retail folk, even a keychain can be pornographic and a bottle of wine can be filled with a restless spirit. I digress.
Nowadays, however, I’m not sure any of these really work. The problem for salesmen in today’s industry is that customers know exactly what they want, and today I know exactly what I’m looking for.
As I enter the gun shop, the bell rings, and a man in an ill-fitting suit, one that is clearly compressing a diet of Panda Express and Cheetos Puffs, approaches me. His name tag reads “Buddy.” With his tie in a perfect full Windsor – the Cadillac of tie knots – and double-breasted suit, he gives me a firm handshake as he takes me to the glass case. I wipe the orange crusted grease from his hands onto the white shirt of a nearby manikin.
I make sure to seem disinterested as he talks to get the best price I can, looking everywhere but where he wants me to look – the assault rifles, the .22 caliber hunting rifles, accessories and various scopes – but I never leave the glass case.
“For a gentleman like yourself, I think I have exactly what you’re looking for,” Buddy tells me, and slides open the mirrored back of the case. I pat my hands on my sides. “This here is the Marksman Pro V, state of the art. Go ahead, feel it.” He says, and he slides the pistol into my hand.
I look it over, cocking the chamber and examining the sights. Then I completely disassemble the weapon. Buddy pats his hands at his sides, trying to mask the dropping of his jaw.
“It’s built from custom tungsten, very stable and reliable. It’s a favorite for at home self-defense.” He chuckles and pats his hands at his sides. I return the gun to him.
“Well son, that’s not even the half of it,” he says, fumbling as he puts it back together the pieces which I’ve strewn across the glass. “This baby is accurate up to 200 yards, tested by real U.S. Marines.”
Including some reference to pro-American themes is a must. I nod at this ploy of patriotism and pat my hands at my sides.
“Let me tell ya, you aren’t gonna find a better weapon for the price.” He takes out the magazine, which I’ve already examined, and rattles off a few facts about the carrying capacity and everything that went into fine-tuning it. Mentally, I’m a ways off to be honest, but I hear the words spring-loaded and something about the benefits of German-made parts in an American, hand-crafted piece of armament. I pat my hands at my sides. Buddy does the same.
“The Marksman Pro V is everything you could ever need in a pistol. Hell, I’ve got two at home myself – one for the wife of course. Never know when a situation could get hairy.”
I force a laugh, a breathy expulsion of my contempt for him. “Well, you’re right there. Life does throw its curveballs at you.”
“Let me tell ya, a strapping young man like you, this is great for a first-time buyer. No hiccups with it, easy to get a grip on – the grip is made from something they call sheer-force steel. It’s embedded with two plates of sturdy oak with a layer of fiberglass in between to absorb any recoil. It’s a real straight shooter if you know what I mean.”
“Well Buddy,” I look it over one more time, considering whether or not to describe it as prurient. I eventually decide not to, realizing that Buddy’s vocabulary abruptly ends at words over five letters and the sensation of him repeating it would be lost. Simultaneously, a cool wave of relief that I won’t be overly pretentious in my purchase washes over me. “I think it’s gonna be perfect for me.”
“Well alright then. I’m just Buddy, but I knew we could be pals,” he chortles, extending his Cheetos encrusted palm. I pretend to not notice and head for the checkout stand, leaving him to grease his own cheap suit.
We run through the background check, the paperwork, and the uncomplicated rigmarole of gun ownership.
“So let’s talk accessories.” He says, motioning me over to the case of what I will assume are just laser-pointers from some factory in China. Not that it matters, but it’s actually cheaper to buy most firearm accessories in China, remove the “Made in China” tag, and replace it with an American brand name than it is to produce them domestically. I digress.
“I think that will actually do it for now,” I tell him, waving my hand, partly to skip the bullshit and partly to dwindle Buddy’s insufferable breathe of peppermint Altoids and Funions. Like I said, I know exactly what I want today.
He smiles and pats his hands at his sides.
“Actually Buddy. I forgot one important thing.”
He perks up at the sound of this, a commission-hungry asshole starving for the next sale. The remnants of a family of Cheetos Puffs and microwaved hot dogs cling to his now exposed canines.
“How much is just one bullet?” I ask as I wrap my fingers around the trigger of my new Marksman Pro V, knowing that Buddy is the last mirror I will ever look into.