December 26, 2006


Near-Death of a Salesman (BOB NEWHART, 12/26/06, NY Times)

TRADITIONALLY, the two busiest days in retail are the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas, but for two very opposite reasons. One is for sales and the other for returns. But let me back up.

In 1957, I left my job in accounting, largely because I was troubled by the illogic of spending four hours (at $6 an hour) to find a $1.68 underage in the petty cash drawer at the Glidden Company’s soy division in Chicago.

I then took the logical step of devoting myself to a career in comedy, because accountants, of course, are known for their sense of humor.

Since I was not initially overwhelmed with offers, I needed to sustain myself with part-time employment. This included working for the Illinois State Unemployment office. Behind the counter, not in front of it.

It is no longer called the Illinois State Unemployment office. Shortly after I left, the name was changed to the Illinois State Department of Human Resources, apparently because of presumed sensitivities among the unemployed at being called unemployed. (I think they were called “underutilized human resources.”)

But the high point of my part-time work came during the Christmas season. Those December days were a godsend, offering numerous opportunities at department stores. The nice thing about these jobs is that they extended beyond Christmas — all because of “returns” day.

Even so gentle a soul as Bob Newhart can't resist taking shots at political correctness.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 26, 2006 9:05 AM
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