Day 62: Is Socks Dead Yet?
by White Collar Criminal – from The Local Voice #148
64-years-young and still staring at his secretary’s brazen display of her quotables. He coughs, looks towards the door, and offers to show me the way out. His secretary doesn’t blink as he scoops a cheap cigar out of his blazer pocket and flicks his lighter. No smoking, no schmoking; he built this place with his own two trust funds.
The flab leaking from my torso is beyond apparent, even when trapped behind an off-white button-up shirt that has wrinkles for miles. I’ve been meticulously driving in a circle for three days, arriving at this particular client’s office to chat about dynamic new products, zipping to lunch with his R&D team, and then back to the city, only to discover he wants more pamphlets to stash in his oft-ignored file cabinet. He is the type who despises email, fax, telephone, Pony Express. He’d rather talk face-to-face. Mano y mano. Balls to Balls.
So instead of scanning our spec sheet to a pdf file and emailing it to his secretary, I’ll jump in my brand new used car, stare at my iPhone as I text 3 words a minute, and make the 1.5 hour drive back to his compound to stare at his secretary’s brazen display of her quotables. His R&D team will be sitting in the conference room, holding a deck of cards full of jokers, waiting for me to falter once, just once.
“You said short-term numbers would indicate low-to-moderate growth, but looking at this bar graph, I don’t see realization until the 4th quarter. What gives?” a minion would undoutbably ask. I’d fumble with a few sheets of blank paper and resort to what my mentor refers to as “socks in a box”.
“In today’s market, achieving low-to-moderate growth within four quarters is virtually unheard of, I assure you. Our company was founded upon the same principles and standards that have propelled your company to where you are today. We’ll start small and end up large, just like you. But if we don’t strive to take the small steps, how will we ever take the giant leaps? This isn’t a risk, this is an opportunity. And I can’t stand here and let you pass up this opportunity,” I’d say. It’s the same little story I’ve pumped out dozens of times before when some egghead in the room could smell bullshit emanating from my flabby torso.
Give the client a box with socks. They’ll look into the box and be pretty unimpressed. It’s a box full of nothing but socks, afterall. Is this supposed to be some sort of gift or something? But then you describe the comfort the socks will provide; the warmth in the winter, the feeling of protection, the feeling of cotton, the fabric of their life, or whatever. Then you describe a life without socks: the horror of your toes freezing in the frigid 30 inches of snow, how defenseless you’ll feel, the feeling of being a hippie, the scariest thought of your life. Don’t give them an option. They need socks.
In reality, they can survive without socks. They can even purchase socks in a box from another vendor. But don’t give them time to research the other box of socks. They need your socks. Besides, winter is fast approaching.
I finish my little anecdote and look down at my own socks. Black nylon. Can barely see them over my belly. The R&D team probably notices my belly. But now they’re in deep thought, pondering over a new product to shove down their customers’ throats while milking every cent they can. Inevitably, they’ll accept our proposal. Not because I’m a fantastic orator-which I am- but because my company rarely fails. We help businesses stay in business. We put food on their table. And we’ve been doing it for over 90 years.
I always wondered if President Bill Clinton practiced his speeches with Socks lounging in the room. He’d launch into historic diatribes against the right-wing conspirators while glancing at the mirror and slightly parting his hair and all the while, Socks would be napping in the corner of the Oval Office, awaiting his next meal. Eventually, Socks would be fed, and all would be right in his tiny world. Not because he felt inspired by the President. Not because he felt change was on the horizon. Not because he knew what the definition of “is” is. But because he got fed. As long as your master keeps you warm in the winter, well-protected and well fed, you’ll be happy. No matter what they say.
The white collar criminal is a twenty-something Ole Miss graduate working in the business world, whether you like it or not.