Life of a Salesman--A Story
I was in eighth grade and because it was raining that afternoon I didn’t hang around the schoolyard playing softball as usual but came straight home. My mother was out shopping. The phone rang. “Is this the home of Marty Abrams?” a man with a gruff voice asked. I said Marty Abrams was my father, but he wasn’t in at the moment. “Tell that son of a bitch that Jim Shanahan called,” the man said, “and if he doesn’t give me back my four hundred bucks for his piece of shit car, I’ll kill him.”
Just before dinner, I told my father about the call, leaving out the “son of a bitch” and “piece of shit” parts. He smiled.
“Nope,” my father said. “I see it as a chance to take back the car and put him into an $800 one.”
This was in the early 1950’s, which will explain the prices. What isn’t so easily explained is my father’s high spirits. In those days, they were invariably high. Had he gone to a psychotherapist, who knows, he might have been diagnosed as borderline manic. I myself think he was just an optimist. When he heard the word “no” from a customer, however emphatic or repeated, he took it only to mean “not yet.”
About the Author
Joseph Epstein is a regular contributor to COMMENTARY.