mother heavenIt was a Saturday morning and I was alone in the travel agency sitting at my desk.

The glass front door to the street was unlocked as I was waiting for a client appointment.

A large, middle-aged man, dressed in workman clothes, walked in carrying a long metal pipe.

I got up to greet him.

“Good morning,” I said pleasantly.  “What can I do for you?”

“Do you sell tickets on Flying Tiger Airlines?

Smiling.  “Of course.  I’ll be happy to help you”.

Then, firmly.  YOU WILL HAVE TO PUT THAT PIPE DOWN.  WE DON’T ALLOW PIPES IN THE OFFICE.

He hesitated.  Then, he put the pipe on the floor.

“I want a one way ticket and I want to parachute off the plane over Las Vegas.”

I kept the conversation going.

“That sounds like a wonderful adventure.  I’ll see if I can arrange it. I’ll give them a call.”

I did not call 911.  The local police station was on my speed dial.  They were less than a mile away.  They all knew me there.

“Good morning.  This is Corinne Edwards from Edwards Travel Advisors.  I have a client at my desk who wants to book a ticket on your airline from Chicago to Los Angeles, but he has a special request. He wnnts to parachute off your plane over Las Vegas.  Can you get me a quick answer?”

The officer who answered the call got it.  “We’ll be right over.”

I pretended to continue the conversation with the airlines.  I had to buy time.

“They want to know if you have your own parachute.”

“Yes, I do.”

“They put me on hold.  They have to check with a supervisor.  Please be patient. We should have an answer soon.”

He seemed to be satisfied with my answer and was willing to wait.

It seemed like an eternity until they came.    I kept thinking about that pipe on the floor a few feet away.

In less then five minutes, I saw a police car pull up – then another. They walked in, pulled him up and handcuffed him.

His back was to the door so he did not see them arrive.

He and his iron pipe were in a paddy wagon before you could say “parachute.”

His adventure was over.

I locked the door and canceled my appointment.  I just wanted to go home.

Was I in danger?  Why the pipe?  Perhaps if I had not been so calm and cordial – probably.  My intuition said yes.

For your own information,  Flying Tiger Airlines no longer exists.  It had been sold to another airline many years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sales, Lies and Naked TruthsChapter six –

THE CRAZIES

I talked about “Complaints” last.  But what about the ‘crazies” you run into in business?  You’ve met some of them.  What do you do with them? Ignore them?  Should you even bother with them?  The answer is Yes!

There was a sales book I read many years ago which mentioned something called the “Rule of 250.”

The rule of 250 is that almost everyone knows about 250 people.  It’s the average if you are having a substantial wedding, the number who pay their respects at a funeral, the number of holiday cards a medium business may send.   These are people who are not necessarily close friends but may be friends of friends, clients and other acquaintances.

The crazies also have about 250 acquaintances.

If you offend one of these people, you run the risk of their spreading the word to their 250 people.  Maybe over the fence, at the supermarket, at the dentist – wherever they happen to be.  You would think that since most of their 250’s are on to the fact that they dealing with a nut, they wouldn’t listen – but they still hear the gripe about you.  It creates an imprint.

To illustrate that point when I was teaching a sales class, I used to pick the nicest person there – the one everyone liked and was a good sport (with her advance permission) and I would say to the class, very confidentially, almost in a whisper.

“I have a secret I want to tell you about Jane.  Shhhhh.  Don’t tell anyone but Jane has a problem.  She has a thing about stealing people’s socks!”

Everyone would laugh because of course a person like Jane would never do a ridiculous thing like that.
Then I would add, “Of course you know that is not true. I am crazy to say that.  But still – if Jane happens to visit your home, in spite of the fact you know that is not true, aren’t you going to keep your eye on your sock drawer?”

That’s an imprint.

The answer to dealing with crazies is to humor them.  You don’t want them talking about you.

When I owned a travel agency, we had a very eccentric client.  Everyone in town knew her because she would try to register her St. Bernard dog, Sam, to vote every year and would become very agitated at the voting registry because “he has more sense than any of you!”

One day she arrived in the agency to report that she had been”burned on the foot with fish on United Airlines.”  This is when they served meals on flights.  We were very sympathetic and offered to help her report her injury to United immediately since she had not done so.

She said, “Absolutely not.  I want to get 50 to 100 people who have been burned on the foot with fish together.  This is going to be a class action suit.  We want real money for this!”

She wanted us to keep a list for her.  We agreed.  And every week she called to see if we had any other victims.  Since the whole office knew about the rule of 250, we were always polite when we reported we had received no other complaints about people who had been burned on the foot with fish but we were being watchful for her.  She seemed satisfied that we were on the job for her. This went on for at least a year until she must have forgotten about it and gone on to another nutty cause of hers.

I mentioned it to my sales rep from United and, to their credit; they asked us to contact her so they could help her if she was really injured.  She always refused.  She wanted the “big money.”

But think of the story she could have told her 250’s if we hadn’t humored her.  She had suffered and our travel agency was heartless.  We wouldn’t help her.  We were unsympathetic.  Mean.  Don’t go there.  They are not nice people.

They might have doubted her but it is still an imprint.

Humoring the eccentric clients is not dishonest.  It is a protective device.  Just do it.  It doesn’t take much time and it might save you a lot of explaining!

ce computer

This chapter is an excerpt.

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