7: Mistaken Identity

7: Mistaken Identity

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

Mistaken Identity

Timing is everything. If it’s meant to happen, it will, at the right time for the right reasons.

~Author Unknown

It was a hot and humid summer Friday, and I was looking forward to the weekend. I had only managed to get one new customer for my parcel delivery service all week; it was one rejection after another.

It was almost 5:00 p.m. but I decided to make one more sales call.

Hmm, a book distribution warehouse. Yes, that would be a good prospect, as they must send out a lot of parcels each week, I thought to myself. I walked along the driveway to the side of an old house that had been converted into an office. I could see their warehouse at the rear. Putting on my brightest smile, I asked to see the dispatch manager, only to be told, “Bob is away sick today. Can you come back Monday?”

I was there Monday at 9. A large truck was blocking the driveway, so I went through the front door instead of going directly to the warehouse.

I was greeted by the receptionist. “Good morning, how can I help you?”

“I’ve come to see Bob in dispatch,” I answered.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, but Bob is still away sick,” she replied. “Perhaps you could speak to our general manager, Claude?”

“Oh, yes, thank you, that would be great.” I waited a few minutes until a charming French gentleman emerged from his office and ushered me in.

“Good morning,” he said in his rather pronounced French accent.

“Good morning to you, bonjour,” I replied with my schoolgirl French, and my brightest smile. I was mentally rehearsing my sales pitch, thinking of all the reasons why Claude’s company should use our superior parcel delivery services.

“Well, thank you for coming. Tell me, what do you like reading?”

This was a bit different, but I guessed publishing types had their own way of doing things. I had adored reading since I was a small child, so I was happy to chat with him about books. “Well, I do like crime and biographies, even some science fiction.”

I was very polite and had always been taught never to interrupt, but I did wonder what this had to do with parcel delivery logistics.

“Where did you go to school?” Oh, well, I thought, I will just humor him for a little longer, and then go for the sales pitch!

“Can you sell?” Well, if you just give me the chance, I will show you our wonderful deal on parcel delivery.

“You know, the book trade is addictive. Once you get that printer’s ink into your blood, it will never let you go.”

Oh dear, where is this all going? When will I get the chance to tell him about our excellent parcel delivery service, great prices, quantity discounts and, of course, my company’s superior reliability? This has to be the strangest sales call I have ever made!

Claude asked me many more questions, and I politely answered all of them.

Still rather confused, and not knowing quite when I should start telling Claude about our wonderful delivery service, he opened his diary and asked me if I could come back Friday morning. I thought, Maybe he is expecting Bob to be back at work by then. Of course, I agreed.

“Second interview!” stated Claude with his lovely French accent.

“Oh, but I didn’t come about a job. I just wanted to talk to you about our parcel delivery service!”

At that moment, Claude and I finally realized that all the while we had completely misunderstood each other.

“Oh, so your name is not Jacquie?”

“No, it’s Fay.”

“Mon Dieu, I am so sorry. I thought you had come for the interview. Please forgive me.”

“Oh, that’s quite alright. I have always loved books and would absolutely love the opportunity to work here.”

And so began my thirty-year career in bookselling and publishing!

Yes, the love of the written word and printer’s ink continue to course through my very being to this day.

Was this meant to be? Yes, I believe it was!

~Fay Peterson

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