It was the early 90’s. Things were good for Steve. He was a car salesman and a darn good one. He had offers from every dealership in town. His sales manager, Don, invited him to lunch at a restaurant.
“Steve,” Don said. “I’m glad we could have lunch together.”
“Me too,” Steve said. “I left my wallet at home today. All I got is a quarter in my pocket. I was going to have to bum a couple dollars from you anyway.”
They ordered and ate.
Don was not his jovial self during the meal. Something was on his mind.
“I wanted to speak to you about something,” Don said.
“Fire away,” Steve said.
“Some of the other salesmen say you are not taking customers in rotation,” Don said. “You’re running out to greet people before any of the other salesmen have had a chance. In fact, they say you wait near the front of the lot and grab them just as they come in.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Steve said.
“It’s not fair to the other salesman,” Don said.
“Life is not fair,“ Steve said. “If they want it to be fair they should get off their lazy carcasses and greet customers as they come in like I do.”
“Look, Steve,” Don said. “I want to create a relaxed atmosphere for the salesmen and customers and the way you do things is creating tension for both.”
“You look, Don,” Steve said. “When a customer comes into our lot the dealership wants to sell him a car. Who is most likely to sell them one? Me. I sell to over half the people I greet. The rest of those salesmen only close a third of the people they greet. You should be talking to them.”
“Steve, I’m going to have to insist you stay in your office and take customers in rotation,” Don said.
“I can leave here and in ten minutes have a job at a half-dozen dealerships just like that!” Steve said snapping his finger. “I just had a call this morning from the Ford dealership and a job offer.”
“I’m sorry, Steve,” Don said. “But that’s an order.”
Steve pushed away from the table and said abruptly, “Thanks for the meal. You can take this job and shove it!”
“But, Steve,” Don said. “We’ve been friends for a long time. We can’t leave things like this.”
Steve reached in his pocket, pulled out a quarter, and tossed it on the table. “Here’s a quarter, call somebody who cares.”
Two months later Steve walked into Don’s office. Don rose and extended his hand.
“Steve,” Don said. “It’s good to see you.”
“Same here,” Steve said.
“What brings you by?” Don said.
“Ya know,” Steve said “I should not have left on such a sour note.”
“Let’s not dance around here,” Don said. “Do you want your job back?”
“Yeah, Don,” Steve said. “I really liked working here.”
“That was kind of foolish what you did a couple of months ago,” Don said. “Don’t you agree?”
“Yeah, it was,” Steve said.
“If you remember,” Don said. “You told me you only had a quarter in you pocket that day and you flipped it on the table.”
Steve chuckled. “I had to walk back to the dealership and get my car.”
“Steve,” Don said. “I heard things aren’t going too good for you. In fact, I heard the bank repossessed your car.”
“How did you know that?” Steve said.
“It’s on the lot,” Don said. “The bank asked us to sell it for them.”
“Well,” Steve said. “I guess you really know I need a job, now.”
Don reached in his pocket, found a quarter, and flipped it to Steve. “Call yourself a cab.”