Andrea Langworthy's column: The lesson of the fruit flys
Every year about this time, my boss put the salespeople on notice. There would be a mandatory meeting that afternoon at such-and-such a time. We all knew what that meant. He planned to get us enthused about the spring market.
After a winter of cleaning snow off cars, scraping ice off windshields and slip-sliding around the inventory at the car dealership, we hardly needed a rah-rah rally. The rising temperatures told us all we needed to know: We could soon put away the Sorrel boots, parkas and gloves.
Even so, the boss was the boss and, once again, we would be a captive audience for his annual “water running in the streets” soliloquy. I always sent a silent prayer heavenward that he would run out of time or simply forget the fruit fly analogy that went with it but my plea always fell on deaf ears.If you’re not familiar with fruit flies, I’ve got the story memorized and will share it with you: According to the boss’s legend, if you put fruit flies in a jar and close the lid, they will try like crazy to get out. Once they figure out there is no escape, they give up. At that point, even if the lid is removed, they won’t fly higher than the top of the jar.I’ve never conducted this experiment and have no proof of its veracity but we all got the idea. We were the fruit flies. After a long, cold Minnesota winter, when customers are as scarce as a pair of flip-flops, we might be lying at the bottom of our jar. It was time for us to leave our stagnant container and get ready for the rush.As if that wasn’t enough to get us enthused, once the water did start coursing through the streets, the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Auto Show arrived. We all signed up to work shifts and hoped we’d encounter a mystery shopper who would reward our product expertise with some cash.It’s been a number of years since I retired from selling cars and trucks but my husband is still in the business. He had back surgery in October and hoped to get back to work in January. That was about the time an orthopedic surgeon had a heart-to-heart talk with him; told him he needed surgery to stretch the iliotibial (IT) band — a ligament running along the outside of the thigh — on his right leg.My hubby was discouraged. The prospect of sitting around the house for even one more day did not make him happy. “Look at the bright side,” I told him. “The weather has been brutal. Do you really want to be out there kicking tires with customers?’He finally gave in and planned to have the surgery in February. “But I plan to be back at my desk by the Auto Show,” he said.Recovery from the laparoscopic surgery has taken longer than he anticipated. Last Saturday, the first day of the show, I caught him looking out the window. Warmer weather had arrived and I could only imagine what he was thinking. Soon, I knew, he would hear the symphony every auto salesperson longs to hear after a cold and snowy winter — the sound of water running in the streets.