Posted tagged ‘negotiations’

Pick Up Truck Litmus Test

November 6, 2009

        A couple posts ago, I told you of Mr. Charles Franklin Thombley IV, negotiator extraordinaire.  It is true he uses a pick-truck to help him in his business. Given he is in a very intense business enviroment, you might wonder how this old truck could come into play.

        Indeed the truck is a bland as Thombley is spectacular.  It is a 1979 Ford F150.  It has an in-line six and and tows okay, but has no frills or options of any kind.  There is no carpet, but only rubber flooring.  You can work with it on the farm and then wash off the red clay with a garden hose and then leave the windows down and let it dry out.  Right near the clutch there’s a big hole, and you can watch the highway roll by through the floorboard.  The vehicle never had a bed-liner, and is rusted out in spots,  It burns some oil, but only a quart between changes.  It has an AM radio but it hasn’t worked in years.  

         When Mr. Thombley meets a new client and is not sure of their character he often uses the truck as a litmus test.  He’ll find out if a potential client has any need for a truck.  They often do because he deals with a lot of professionals in transition in between offices. They often say, “Oh yeah sure, I have a man moving me this weekend.  I’m sure it’d come in handy.”

           Mr. Thombley will say, “Well, I have access to one you can borrow.  It belongs to an old farmer who helps me out on the south pasture.  He just asks that you bring it back in the same shape as when you picked it up.”

        “Okay. Thanks.”

         The he lets them take it for the weekend. 

          Invariably when the potential clients return it they fall into one of three categories.

          Some of them bring it back filled up with gas and washed.  Every so often one will even wax it.  He has never entered into a business relationship with anyone in this category and regretted the decision.  To a person they proved to be good clients.

          Some bring it back with the exact same amount of gas.  They might not wash it, but they get most of the mud off.  They might make adequate clients, but have to be watched with more care.

         A few bring it back dang near out of gas, mud-stained, and sometimes even dented.  Charles will mention it to them and they might say, “Hell, he’s just an old farmer.  He doesn’t have the time or the money to deal with me.”  Mr. Thombley always tells these people his schedule is jammed and he had to stop taking new clients until he can get caught up.

        “Bibey,” he told me.  You can always tell what a man is made if by how he treats people who are not in a position to defend themselves.  If he is going to be fair to some old farmer he doesn’t even know, then he will be fair to the people he enters into business with.  If he’ll take advantage of them because he thinks he can get away with it he’ll be too much maintenance to deal with on a fair basis.  You can arrange a fair deal with guys like this, but it takes too much time and energy, and they will back out on you at the first opportunity.  It just isn’t worth the trouble when there are so many good people out there to work with.

        I was always good to fill up a man’s truck if I borrowed it.  Often I’d run it through the car wash too. After I met Charles I try to wax ’em if I get a chance.  You only get one chance at a first impression and if die tomorrow I want people to remember I did my best to be fair to them.

       As I am sure you know, there was no farmer.  Mr. Thombley kept the truck just to be sure what folks were made of.  He bought it new in 1979, and said it has been one of his best investments.

Dr. B