Strange ReTales: Acting Like A Professional


It’s a popular saying that you’re the synthesis of the five people you spend the most time with, so you should choose wisely.

Some of the lessons that you learn from other people, and the impression they leave you with will last you a lifetime.

Still brand-new to commission sales, I had been on the job for less than a week when a young woman walked into the store, and after being greeted asked my assistant manager, whom I was standing near “What’s the best video camera you’ve got.”

He opened up the display case and showed her one of our best ones, a Hi8 Camcorder with a Zeiss lens. It was $3500.

He’d been talking for less than a minute when she said “Okay, I’ll take that one.”

Accessories? A bag? Box of tapes? Spare battery? Five year extended warranty?

“Yes, of course” she replied to all.

When my assistant manager ran her debit card it came back as declined.

“Aha” I’m sure both of us thought, “too good to be true.”

The lady asked us to wait a moment, took her cellphone out of her purse (keep in mind back then cellphones weren’t yet something everybody had) and called her bank.

“Yes” she said when she got the right person on the line “We talked about this yesterday. I need my daily transaction limit raised to $20,000. There’s $476,000 in my chequing account, and I still have shopping to do. Yes, thank you.”

She hung up and said “Give it a couple of minutes and then try again please.”

He did, and the transaction went through. He thanked her, handed her the bags and she was on her way.

Meanwhile, I absorbed this entire tableaux like a sponge.

This surprise high roller was neither overdressed nor underdressed. She didn’t look like a vagrant, nor did she look like the kind of person for whom half a million dollars in her chequing account is no big deal.

Through the whole transaction, Shawn, my assistant manager, who oversaw much of my early training was the epitome of class and quiet professionalism.

Everything that happened, from a surprise big sale, to a declined card, to a suddenly approved card he faced it all with aplomb. He never failed to demonstrate good manners, and he always said exactly the right polite thing at the right time.

That’s an example that, years later, I still try to emulate every day.