People who sell things for a living have a rotten reputation, but I like them. They look you in the eye, use your name a lot, hold your shoulder while they talk to you, and laugh really hard at your jokes.They take you out to expensive restaurants, and when the waiter asks them if they want something to drink they don’t say, “Just water, please.” They send you a Christmas card. They ask you where you went to college and what your kids do after school. They suggest through facial expressions and body language that they would like to marry you. In other words, salespeople treat you exactly the way you wish everyone would treat you—the way you deserve to be treated. Their only tiny flaw is that they don’t mean any of it: they’re just trying to make a sale. But isn’t that really a trivial defect, all things considered? Doesn’t the insincerity of salespeople seem like a negligible shortcoming in comparison with the incalculably opulent richness of their devotion?
Well, I think it does. And I always have plenty of opportunities to agree with myself at the P.G.A. Golf Merchandise Show, which is held in Orlando every January and is full of salespeople. Among the dozens I met there a couple of years ago was Jack Ferenz, a former tour player. (His best year was 1990, when he entered twenty-one tournaments, made five cuts, and finished second at the Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic, two strokes behind Gene Sauers, the same week as the Masters.) He was selling an invention of his, which was then called the Dry Club Umbrella. He described it on a Facebook page (which has two “likes” but doesn’t seem to be active anymore): “We have designed a state of the art golf umbrella that will take over the golf world. Our unique design allows player to carry 2 clubs, handsfree, and remain 75% drier than with standard umbrella.”
Since then, Ferenz has renamed his invention the Carryclubumbrella, and perhaps also tweaked the design. Even after studying the patent drawings and the photographs and descriptions on Ferenz’s website, though, I’m not a hundred percent certain I understand how it works. Then again, I’m not an umbrella guy, so you should check it out for yourself.