Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Fine Art of Misdirection

hand pointing leftA customer once told me that to deliberately mislead people is a sin. I say misdirection is a skill that can save your life. Some years ago I was on the road home after having sold my entire stock of Wizard Water© when I was suddenly struck with a high fever. It was so severe that Death showed up at my wagon, telling me it was time to go.

Now I had had a few brushes with Death before. I knew he had to have authorization before he could collect a soul. So I asked to see the authorization. After perusing it, I handed it back to him.

“You’ve got the wrong fellow, sir,” I said, “This is for a woman!” Well he looked at the paper and scratched his head. “I could’ve sworn it had your name!” he said, puzzled. “Do you know where this Miss Lydia Pinkham lives?”

“Massachusetts,” I replied. “Best hurry.” So he rode away.

Some of you folks might think it unseemly to direct the Grim Reaper to an innocent woman, but Miss Pinkham was in the patent medicine business, too. In fact, she was once in a similar situation and told me how she got out of it.

"I simply asked to see the authorization,” she declared. “And luckily, I had one of your Doc Johnson advertising sheets on hand. It matched the size of the paperwork exactly. When you deal in mass quantities, you don’t care for details. All this fellow wanted was a name in print.”

Her resourcefulness led to several close calls for me. Luckily I’m pretty resourceful too (and good with a deck of cards). Since hearing her story I also make sure I always have the advertising fliers of my fellow patent medicine sales folks on hand, just in case. I’m not too worried about what will happen when Death catches up with them due to a little misdirection on my part. They’ll think of something. Their instinct for survival likely explains why Death comes back knocking at my door so often. Either that or he just likes a good game of poker.
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