Salesmen Sell, Or Do They

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that’s just what has kept some salesmen going, reaching deep into their bag of ingenuity to find a new trick. Slim Randles is here today with a story about Willoughby, the bane of the folks at the Mule Barn Truck Stop. Grab a cup of coffee and a place at the counter and enjoy…

When you live in a small town like ours, sometimes you get a bit thirsty for entertainment. I mean, we’ve all heard most of Windy Wilson’s stories, and the radio and the television stations are in a much bigger town.

But once in a while, we have Willoughby. I think Dud passed him on the highway before he got here and phoned Doc down at the Mule Barn coffee shop. The entertainment alarm went off more loudly than the tornado siren, and in five minutes flat, we were down at the grocery store, waiting on the latest sales spiel Willoughby might bring.

Our favorite so far was the artificial seafood with a shelf life longer than written memory, but we were counting on Willoughby to come up with something new and terrific. He didn’t disappoint.

When he grinned and waved and leaped out of his car, we gasped. Blue hair. Now Willoughby normally had brown hair mixed with gray, a natural look for a middle-aged man. But blue hair?

We got inside the grocery store quicker than Willoughby. Annette looked up from the cash register at today’s audience and smiled. “Willoughby?”

“Of course,” we said in unison.

Then here he came, necktie and all, with his sample case.

“Annette,” he said, “you know we need to keep up with the times, and that’s why I brought you this new age-reversal product called Fall Back. Yes, ma’am, in this kit is the answer to sweeping away the years and returning to that look we had when we were back in school.

“Inside this modestly-priced kit are hair colors that will mark you as being hip … you know … with it? Blue, green, purple, all the good colors. And then we have this …”

And he pulled out something that looked like tweezers on steroids.

“Annette,” said Willoughby, “your customers can bypass all that costly care by doing things for themselves. Yes, this is the combination tattoo needle and piercing clamp. All in one..”

“Willoughby,” Annette said, “how many times did you have blue hair when you were in school?”

“Well …”

“And trot out your tattoos and piercings for us, too,” said Doc.

Willoughby looked like someone just stepped on his pet frog. “I can give you a really good price on this kit, anyway.”

Doc nodded and whispered. “I’m sure he can.”
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Brought to you by Sun Dog Days, a novel of wild horses and gentle cowboys.

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Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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