Back when my dad was a young man, he worked at an agricultural supply store in Austin, Texas.
One day, a well-dressed middle-aged man came into the store. In a somewhat arrogant manner, he asked my dad to fetch the owner of the establishment. Dad did so immediately. The owner quickly emerged from his office in the back and hurried to see what this was all about.
As he walked up, the man introduced himself, and they shook hands. Then, they got straight down to business. In an authoritative tone, he told the owner that he was going into business for himself, and was going to need a lot of supplies…. I mean, a lot! .. and he preferred to deal only with the owner for such a large purchase. The owner assured the customer he would handle the entire sale personally, shooing away his young, hovering employees and grabbing a notepad.
He’d handle this sale himself.
The man then began to outline his business plan. The owner, sensing this could potentially be his biggest sale ever, walked about the store, listening to the entrepreneur’s plans for his new business and the specific things he would need to purchase to get it started. For a couple of hours, he attentively took careful notes and made suggestions about this product versus that. Between the two of them, they came up with quite an impressive list of things that the man was going to buy for this new business.
Now, the man was keen on getting everything he needed from one place, but some of the supplies were things that the owner normally did not carry. However, he assured the visionary, he would be happy to order them. Once everything on the list was there, the purchase would take place….If the price was reasonable. The owner, almost gushing with appreciation for having been chosen by this visionary, promised him he would be able to beat the price of anyone else in town.
Without missing a beat, the owner offered to put together a proposal outlining the costs. Back then, computers were a thing of science fiction novels, so any research would have to be done with catalogs, rotary-dialed phone calls, the yellow pages, good old-fashioned haggling, and of course, the trusty calculator. The owner knew this was going to be a lot of work, but for a sale like this, it would be worth it.
Armed with his list, the owner promised the entrepreneur he would research the costs, and have a reasonably priced proposal for him by the following Monday. Excited, the owner got right to work the minute the entrepreneur left the store.
He outlined his store’s costs, and then called different suppliers about the costs of supplies he didn’t carry, along with delivery options and those costs. He haggled, strong-armed, or begged different vendors he had always used, wheeling and dealing for the best prices he could get. He called in favors, and promised his own.
Finally he wrapped up the entire exercise by meticulously typing a professional, detailed proposal for the wealthy entrepreneur with two fingers on a manual typewriter. By the time he’d done, his wife was threatening to divorce him, his kids had run away from home, and his dog had taken to hiding under the house when he was at home. But it was done, and it was perfect.
That next Monday, the entrepreneur returned to see the store owner’s proposal. Barely able to breathe with nervousness, the owner handed him the product of so many hours of phone calls, calculations, and two-fingered typing on a manual typewriter. His hands were shaking as he handed it over.
Dignified and somber, the entrepreneur accepted the proposal. For what seemed an enternity, he said nothing, only flipping through neatly typed pages of detailed information. His face gave away nothing.
“Looks good,” he said, finally looking up at the hopeful owner.”I believe we have a deal, sir.”
The owner was barely able to contain his excitement as they shook hands. He wanted to dance around like an idiot! This was a huge, huge sale and completely worth all that work! With this kind of money, he could easily bribe his family into loving him again!
“Now,” said the entreprenuer, serious-faced, his tone one of a man getting down to business.
“I will have to pay you in shetland ponies. So, how many shetland ponies do you think all this will cost?”
Turns out, the guy had escaped the mental institution up the road.
PS: Dad. I LOVE THIS ONE!! Makes me laugh every single time I hear it!