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The whiteboard salesman

Mon 5 Nov 2001 by mskala Tags used: ,

I do not fully understand how the whiteboard salesman became what he was. It's one of those jobs, like laboratory technician or the actuarial profession, that little kids never want to be when they grow up. I don't mean that it's low status, because kids don't care about that. Who of us doesn't remember a kindly garbage collector from our formative years, which of us never wanted to do that? But the whiteboard salesman's job was just not visibly important. If he ever told anyone why he chose the career he did, then that person never told me.

The whiteboard salesman wore a grey tweed suit with a blood-red knitted shirt; a wire-thin moustache and the latest fashion in bodymod hornbuds. He streaked his hair with peroxide, by hand, carefully in front of the mirror, until his follicles got the hint and streaked naturally. Smart follicles! The salesman used to carry his samples around in an imitation snakeskin briefcase with a specially designed foam liner that held all his equipment. He had three erasers, nineteen pens of all kinds including gas-charged relief pens for fashion designers, and a whole litre of the highest quality cleaning fluid. Then there were the samples themselves, discs as big around as your hand. The salesman would let customers scribble on the discs, watching eagerly, explaining the advantages of one surface or another; then he'd wipe off the scribbles and have them try it again. He loved his work, and he sincerely believed his own marketing literature. The Glinnex 710 surface, indestructable by whiteboard markers or regular permanent markers or any force short of cobalt bombs! The Coron 440, a microfibre composite specialty surface with the print-through feature! The designer line, with pastel colours and hot-stamped psuedotextures to match any office decor! The salesman took pride in matching every customer to their own most perfect conception of whiteboardity, and he was not ashamed to use those words.

The whiteboard salesman died, and nobody except his landlord, his lover, and his employer noticed. His employer replaced him with a woman who wore too much makeup and carried her catalog around in a newly-invented computerized device with a three-dimensional haptic interface, the very latest thing. Her podgy fingers used to leave streaks on the glass surface of the display, but it was self-cleaning eventually so that didn't matter. Some of the old salesman's now-obsolete sample discs found their way into the hands of children who tossed them like frisbees in the street for a while, then went home, leaving them for the street cleaners to sweep up. Ten million years later the salesman's species had all died out, and their city decayed and then was washed away as the seas rose. The Glinnex 710 sample disc was buried under a stratum of sedimentary rock, and it was actually the very last recognizably artificial trace of them at all. But the bat-people who eventually evolved on that planet never bothered to dig it up.


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