Friday, November 19, 2010


Ben Sampkins had a large retail shop that was not located in a shopping centre but hidden away in an area of factories. Somehow, this attracted lots of customers to him and he was placing orders quite frequently with my company, making him a much valued customer. Of course, I made sure that he had the latest samples and installed an attractive display stand in his shop. It was made of tubular steel with large, horizontal, selector pages to flip over. Housewives and decorators alike loved to stand there and leaf through its range of patterns.
Arriving there, I noticed a few cars parked right outside, which is always a good sign of business. It had a very wide shop front and the interior reached a long way to the back to where the offices were.
Stopping for a moment at the entrance, I took in picture, the whole layout of this attractive showroom. There were big rolls of carpets, arranged in herringbone fashion and on the side walls were hung beautiful rugs, passageway runners and over-locked carpet pieces. And sure enough there was a vinyl flooring section far in the back, near the offices, where my company’s display stand dominated the PVC flooring section.
From the ceiling were hung large signs, pictures of room settings and ‘Specials’ advertising, swaying slightly in a gentle breeze.
There was something else that called attention to itself: a grey tabby cat that kept brushing up against my leg in a friendly gesture of welcome. I patted the top of a roll of carpet and it understood immediately, jumping up onto the spot I indicated.
Naturally, since every staff in the shop seemed busy, I felt unobserved and therefore tickled this fluffy creature under the chin, behind the ears and stroked it vigorously, whispering sweet nothings and looking into its beautiful trusting eyes. I have never heard a cat purr so loudly; it licked my hand fast and with dedication – obviously, this gorgeous creature loved to be loved and to give love!
Eventually I had to stop and proceeded into the back of this gigantic showroom, where I found Ben in his office. He was a middle-aged man with the youngish, ruddy complexion of a country lad.
Sitting down, I immediately directed our conversation to the subject of my visit. There were new samples of floorings with especially developed low maintenance properties, always an excellent selling feature which I had to make him acquainted with. Together, with prices, technical literature and maintenance instructions, I stacked everything neatly on his desk and then decided to pay him a compliment.
‘You have a lovely cat, Ben! I’ve just played with it………’ But I didn’t get any further.
‘Oh, that bloody cat – drives me mad!’ Was his unexpected outburst.
‘But – it’s a lovely cat!’ Was my stunned utterance.
‘Well, you can have him.’ he acclaimed.
‘Why? Don’t you like cats?’ I jumped to its defence.
‘That bloody cat’, he repeated, ‘gets on my nerves…..I’m gonna get rid of him. Hangs around, costing me money, always wanting something………’
‘But it is a wonderful creature, a loving companion, a kind of partner……’ I found myself representing cats in general and that fluffy, furry creature I’d made friends with.
‘Take him with you! Go on, take him I can’t stand the sight of him anymore.’ His face reddened even more and his voice sounded very aggressive.
The arguments went back and forth for a while. Realising how long I had been with him and that it is never wise to upset a good customer, I stood up to bid my farewell. Trying to hide my hurt feelings I left his office.
Once outside his room, I found the cat was waiting for me. With its big amber eyes it looked so friendly and its fuzzy face was so lovable and trusting, my heart sank. ‘You poor creature’, I thought if only somebody would love you’. Then it started to show me the way to the entrance of the shop. Trotting ahead with its tail upright and looking back from time to time, it led me through the gigantic showroom and when we nearly reached the entrance, it jumped onto the same roll of carpet it had sat on before and looked at me encouraging. Naturally, I too, remembered what we had done before, so I stroked and tickled it and whispered sweet nonsense in its lovely ears. And it purred and licked my hand in rapture.
‘Hello Peter!’ One of Ben’s salesmen walked past and I had a desperate thought.
‘Do you want a cat, John?’
He looked surprised and taken aback.
‘Why would I want a cat?’
‘Ben wants to get rid of this lovely thing here. It needs a home!’
John sounded irritated: ‘He’s had that cat for years… wandered in one day and they have been together ever since.’
‘But he said he ….’
‘He never gets rid of him. He only talks funny’, John said, walking away and leaving me so relieved that I virtually floated out of this shop as if I’d gotten a very big order!

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