The Salesman This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The snow was falling hard as I drove down thealmost empty street toward the 24-hour donut shop. It was falling with a kind ofassertiveness, as if it consciously wanted to make people shut their doors andfear the world. About a mile from my destination, I saw a bank. I can't quiteremember which it was, but it doesn't really matter. As I passed, an electricscrolling sign read: "Support Your Troops, 2.99% financing for limited timeonly."

When I got to my destination, I took my usual 35-cent cup ofcoffee to a table, lit a cigarette, and sat with my dreams in my head and my bookby my side. I always brought a book. It gave me some kind of comfort. If I had myeyes on my book, no one would try to talk to me and everything would be alright.My dreams, well, they're always there, they don't really go away. If I could getrid of them, I would. They remind me of everything I could have done, all therelationships I could have saved, and how I'm really going nowhere. I was livingmy dream, a dream of hopelessness and regret looking forward to the day I didn'thave the life to dream anymore.

At that time I had been pretty apatheticabout how things were going and didn't really want to care anymore. I feltunimportant and uninvited as I drifted through each day just trying to make it tothe next, living sunrise to sunrise, counting the days until the sun wouldn'trise again. It's almost impossible to seem unimportant these days, to seem barelyhuman, a

lifeless object with the sole purpose of consumerism. It seemsthat as we buy and sell our way through life, we become thoughtless; working,hoping, praying in terms of dollars and cents.

When I was little, I usedto go to church a lot with my parents. Even then, knowing as little as I did, Iwas sure the man behind the pulpit was selling me something. I could never quitefigure out why, but I always looked at him as a salesman, selling his ideas tonew and open minds, and markets. I looked at the hymns and music as thecommercial, and the prayer as consumer devotion to a product that kept themhungry for more. There was a certain planned obsolescence that seemed to putthese people here each week. Salvation was only worth as much as those buying itand devotion was worth much more to the man who was selling it.

I justsat and thought for awhile, watching people come and go. I saw a certain beautyin people that faded at the precise moment the cash register made its awful ring.It made me look at them and feel sorry for them. It made me look at the manbehind the counter as a thief taking away his customer's life: take the order,supply the product, collect the life and tuck it in a drawer, listen to thecasket-closing ring and then "Thank you. Have a nice day." I felthorribly sorry for the people who didn't know the principle they were succumbingto, trading life for a commodity.

What made me feel twice as bad, though,was remembering the ring of the cash register when I gave that man the 35 centsfor my coffee. When I dropped the coins into his hand, I dropped more thanengraved metal. I handed over a good five minutes of my life, the five minutes ittook to make that money at work where I sealed others' coffins as well.

Itook another sip of coffee, finished my last cigarette, and walked out the door.It was three in the morning and the snow had stopped falling. I looked up to thesky and to a God who was supposedly there and said, "Sir, you're the bestCEO I know. Sell me salvation and I'll sell you devotion and then I'll turn to myfriend and tell him about the wonderful product I just found. Then maybe he'llbuy it too, and so will his offspring and the generations after him. This is awonderful world you've created, you King of Kings. Support your troops, 2.99%financing for a limited time only, smaller computers and bigger cars, salvationand devotion; summer, spring, winter, fall.

"It's all so beautifulthat I could vomit on my shoes and put a bullet through my temple. Before I dothat, though, I'll think of how beautiful it is to be free and in the land of thefree where nothing is free and 'Sir, we'd like to save your son, but that will be$5,000 and I don't believe you have insurance.' It's such a beautiful world andI'm so glad to be in it. So I'll go tell all my friends that you're the one tocredit for creating such a wonderful organization and that they're nothing butprofit for the next guy and they'll love You forever. They'll love You forever,Lord, and with humble hearts they will say 'Amen' and You will reply, 'Thank you.Come again. Have a nice day.'"

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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