Wednesday, August 19, 1998

Benjamin Sells, Take One
by Rick Aristotle Munarriz (

{The camera pans the exterior of Phelps Financial Services and enters through a revolving door. Passing through a posh reception area, cutting through a sea of typically hidden cubicles with cold-calling brokers embracing their handsets, Benjamin Sells' voiceover begins, concluding just as the recently widowed Mrs. Burton and Benjamin are shown inside a makeshift luxurious office}

Benjamin's Voiceover: My conscience died a few years ago. I had it cremated and ate the ashes for breakfast. Waste not, want not. I wasn't always this cold. But, you know, somewhere between the 17th and 18th rejection letter, nobility has a funny way of smacking the wall of obsolescence. So I sell. I sell what no clear-thinking person would buy. I sell what no clear-conscience person would sell.

Mrs. Burton: I don't understand? My husband did a lot of research in picking these investments before he passed away. Why do you want me to change?

Benjamin: Mrs. Burton, your husband probably had a great mind for these things. Looking over your portfolio, I'm amazed. He nailed some of the top performers of the last few years. But we're not rear-view-mirror financial planners here. You have to look ahead. I'm sure your husband would have picked this mutual fund, load and all, if he were still around. This {tapping the prospectus} is the new Mr. Burton.

Voiceover: {As Benjamin passes the prospectus to Mrs. Burton, who shows some hesitation but ultimately signs away on the transfer form} It's a talent really. Or at least that's how I have come to sugarcoat my malice. Why squander my pitching skills elsewhere? Back in community college I had a business professor once say that even the world's greatest salesperson couldn't sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo. I raised my hand, like I used to back then, and disagreed. That's wrong, I said. The poor guy's face got steaming red. Prove it, he said, and you don't have to show up for another class. Sir, it's simple. It doesn't take a great salesperson to sell that refrigerator, just a dumb Eskimo to buy it. I Aced the class -- and never went back.

Mrs. Burton: Why do I get the feeling I am going to regret this?

Benjamin: Trust me. Trust, in me.

Voiceover: {As Mrs. Burton hands back the signed transfer form and walks away} The igloos are everywhere. I've got these cold callused knuckles that are perfect for the knocking. Evolution. It's a wonderful thing.

To Be Continued!

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