I ran into Kelly Beck the other day and the fondest of memories came flooding back. The kid is alright.
A few years after I moved here to Sunset Bay in Wainfleet, Kelly Beck was 7 years old with long, blond hair and shy, hazel eyes. This kid could sell exercise bikes to dead people.
Kelly was the neighborhood salesperson. While other children, all duded up with 10-gallon hats and cap guns, were playing cowboys and native persons, Kelly was going door-to-door along Sunset Bay sending her prospective customers scurrying for crawl spaces with handfuls of Extra-Strength Tylenol.
It’s not so much what she was selling, because quite often Kelly wasn’t really sure. In fact, for a while Kelly had an older girl working with her door-to-door. This was before Kelly could talk. When Kelly was old enough to talk, she told me the older girl’s name was District Sales Manager and she had had her fired.
Kelly affectionately referred to her house as The Home Office, her brothers and sisters as Account Executives and the yellow school bus as the Company Car.
Kelly was so smooth she didn’t even bring the product around with her anymore. She carried an order form headed “Ja Want Sum?” and a pen. That was it. A great salesperson, as Kelly used to say, doesn’t need product — “Thell the Thizzle, not the Thsteak!”
I know I was her best customer. Even if I had been her only customer, Kelly Beck would have made more in commissions back then than the guy with exclusive sales rights to cell phones in Mississauga.
Kelly’s key to success was not the product, but the pitch. Her weak, almost inaudible knock at the door said: “I’m embarrassed to be here and I’m sorry to bother you, but two slathering Rottweilers and a hailstorm aren’t going to move me away from this door so get out here, I don’t have all day.”
Once the door was opened, you were done. Kelly would shift from one foot to the other, lock those pretty-please eyes on you, thrusts the pen and paper toward you and without mentioning what she was selling she would say: “Ja want sum?”
The cloth for all intents and purposes, had been cut. The choice was clear: sign or be guilty of cruelty to second graders working their way through Wainfleet South Elementary School.
It was easier to say “no” to Revenue Canada than to Kelly Beck, the Mary Kay of Sunset Bay. You sign.
I had jars full of Girl Guide cookies, a fridge full of cheese, enough tickets of chance to warrant a gaming license and so many magnetic notepads on my fridge, my lawnmower kept trying to get into the house.
I sponsored Kelly Beck in so many Walk-A-Thons, Swim-A-Thons, Bowl-A-Thons, Bike-A-Thons, Stand-A-Thons, Sleep-Over-A-Thons and Whistle-While-You-Work-A-Thons that she should have legally had her name changed to “The Bionic Beck.”
My tab for Kelly’s one Walk-A-Thon was $250. The next time she made a sales call on me, I called her on it. She admitted she had applied the “exertion times 10” option but insisted it was a very worthwhile cause.
This out of the way, Kelly did the sales shuffle, locked in the eyes, pushed the pen and paper at me and said: “Ja want sum?” I signed. But being a bit apprehensive, I was forced to ask: “What did I just buy?”
“Macramé,” she said with the smile of success and batting eyes to boot. Great. An afghan or a wall hanging. Either way, I would give it to my Mom for Christmas.
When UPS delivered the microwave with three-stage memory and automatic thaw, I was steamed. I phoned Kelly immediately. I got her answering machine. Apparently, she was speaking at an Amway Sales Motivation Seminar in Toronto, but she was calling in for her messages.
When Kelly did show up at my door the next day, I was still livid. I lit into her … but then she handed me Madame Benoit’s two-volume “Nine Course Meals In Under Nice Seconds.”
“It’s free … with the macramé,” she said.
Then she started to shift her feet. Gawd, not the sales shift. Then the eyes, then the pen, the paper. “Ja want sum?”
“Okay,” I said signing, “but this better not be a household appliance or a Walk-A-Thon along the Great Wall of China!”
“It’s not,” she replied. “It’s a blayther.” Hmmmm … a blazer. Looked like I got off easy that time. She was two doors down when it dawned on me.
“How do you know the right size?” I yelled.
“It’s a 4×4 Chevrolet Blayther … fully loaded with cruth control,” she yelled back, while knocking on Tryfiak’s door. I watched John and Diane jump out of their bedroom window and begin running down the beach toward Morgan’s Point.
I knew this kid had to be stopped, but I couldn’t help but wonder if “fully loaded” included a cassette player with automatic rewind or what?
And guess what 32-year-old Kelly Beck does today? She works for a leading-edge pharmaceutical company in London, Ontario, in sales and … and her new territory is … wait for it … India. Today, India, tomorrow the planet. The kid is alright.