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Getting the Reorder

Did you hear the one about the traveling salesman?

For the last twenty years, Phil has been calling on the largest account in town. He was the only one who carried a particular type of widget so he always felt that he had a captured audience.

So, just as he had done dozens of times before, Phil organized his sample case and headed off to see “his” account.

He showed the buyer all of the newly designed samples.  When he finished, he took out his order pad and said, “So, Jerry, how much of an increase can I put you down for?”

Jerry shifted in his chair and replied, “Have a seat a minute, Phil.”

Phil sat down at the other side of the table as Jerry opened up his files.

“You see,” Jerry began, “I’ve been looking at the performance of your widgets over the last few years and I think we might have a problem.  Frankly, Phil, they haven’t sold. I’m afraid that, not only can’t I give you an increase, but we might have to cancel you as a vendor”.

Phil was mortified. He should have known this. So he did what he did best:

“Wait, I can give it to you cheaper.  We can take back whatever hasn’t sold from last year.  We’ll put your logo on it!  What do you say?”

Jerry looked at Phil.  He had heard all of this before. Was it going to be the same empty promises or was Phil really going to deliver this time?

He heaved a deep a sigh and said. “It’s been twenty years, Phil. We’ll give it one more try.  But only one more, if it doesn’t happen this year, you’re out.”

As he wiped the sweat from his brow, Phil slowly opened up his order book and began writing the order.

“Thanks, Jerry.  This time you won’t be sorry.”

And then, that was that.  No sooner had he written the order, then all of the promises were forgotten – no cheaper prices, no guaranteed sales and no logo.

At least once a year, Judaism requires that we make a “soul accounting”, a cheshbon hanefesh. Have we made good on all of our promises? How well have we redesigned our spiritual lives?  That is something we must think about every Jewish New Year, on Rosh Hashanah.

So many of us make Rosh Hashanah Resolutions that next year’s line is going to be the best ever – completely revamped, we’ve learned from our mistakes of the past, and so we ask for one more chance.  And Gd grants it to us, because, hey, He’s known us for thirty years, forty years and He really likes each one of us. Why does He? Because we each have a unique product to sell – no one offers exactly what we do. He’ll even give you a couple of extra seasons – even if you don’t perform because He wants you to succeed.

And don’t worry if you don’t quite succeed this Rosh Hashanah in reconsidering your priorities and making new year’s resolutions.  Every day is a good day for a cheshbon hanefesh. And it makes a whole lot of sense to try because the last thing you would ever want to happen is to be cancelled as a vendor.

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Posted in: Jewish Holidays
by   Max Anteby

Comments icon September 14, 2009


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