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Bowl Comedy Series-Last Program Standing

January 10, 2012

By Ross Mitchell

Want to hear a joke? Two salesmen walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “What can I get you?” The first salesman, we’ll call him Louis Ianastate, responds with, “What’s your special?” A glint twinkles in the bartender’s eye as he points to the top shelf and gloats, “Seers Cristal. And buddy, it’s had your name on it all year.”

Now Louis tries to hide his sense of entitlement. He‘s always been a reliable component at the office, steadily competing for the top spot in the company. Every now and then he even wins “Salesman of the Year.” But staying modest is harder than you might think. This year, you‘d better believe Louis in the running for the accolade. Matter of fact, some of upper-management have already assured that he‘s got their vote, regardless of how the final week plays out. Judging by the bartender‘s ribbing, the word is out. “The Champagne?” Louis asks.

The bartender shakes his head, “Better. What we’re done is concoct a system where we take the best elements of each of the major liquors and throw them into one bowl.”

Louis and his friend scowl, “How much does this cost?” Louis inquires. “One hundred million dollars,” the bartender touts proudly. The two patrons practically vomit, “One hundred million dollars! Has anyone ever bought one?!” Louis exclaims.

The bartender leans in, irked. “Keep it down!” he implores, “The bartending commissioner is at the end of the bar. If he hears Seers Cristal can be bought he’ll shut us down!” Louis squints perplexed, “Doesn’t he get a percentage of the total sales?” The bartender remains insistent, “Yeah, but he can’t just tell everyone. He has to save face. After all, if it’s just common knowledge bars are selling Seers Cristal to the highest bidder, it will damage the integrity of the industry.” Louis concedes, though he can’t understand why that would be true in a capitalist market. And isn’t the bartender trying to sell him Seer Cristal?

Louis changes the subject, no need to speculate, though he remains curious why the bar across the street, “Brutus” was shut down for a month for selling paraphernalia in exchange for tattoos yet “Happy Val’s” remains unscathed after their assistant-manager was indicted for “serving” minors at his residence.

“So what is a ‘Seers Cristal‘?” Louis asks.

“Well, we take the best wine from the Pacific, the best rum from the Atlantic, the finest scotch from Ten’s distillery located in the mid-west, and the primer bourbon from B-12’s in the grasslands…or maybe we get the scotch from 12’s and the bourbon from Ten’s. I can’t tell which is which anymore. We also include high quality vodka from B.Easties, to be honest it’s not what it once was. And to top it off, we add tequila from the South East. We could just be exclusive to the South East, but again, we have to at least “broadcast” fair game. Oh, we also include microbrews from the small breweries in the country, but we really don’t include them when we discuss about the final product. Again, we have to appease the masses. When it‘s all said and done we pour it into a crystal bowl and set up a stage and watch you drink.”

At this point both Lou and his co-worker have regret asking, “That sounds horrible.” Lou’s co-worker gasps. The bartender disagrees, “No, it works, trust me, we’ve got this supercomputer in a closet downstairs that calculates this insane, nonsensical formula and we get the perfect result. Sure if you prefer, say bourbon or wine to tequila you might feel a little left out, but who are we to argue with a computer?”

Lou shakes his head. “I think we’ll stick with tequilla.” Lou says, “And my friend here is buying.”

“Why’s that?” the bartender asks, sullied he couldn’t convince his customers to spend a hundred million dollars on a system that removes human element from the equation. Lou explain that he and his co-worker, we’ll call him Al Abama partook in a head-to-head contest four weeks prior to the end of the fiscal year. Al had plenty of opportunities to put Lou away but couldn’t quite hit his desired field market goals. Still, the contest was close, ultimately going into the weekend until Lou prevailed. They were also in Al’s office when Al lost, his home turf so-to-speak. But apparently that didn’t matter.

“That must’ve killed any chance you had at the Salesman of the Year award, huh?” the bartender concluded. “Actually it didn’t. It made my case stronger. Going up against a salesman like Lou and taking him to the limits…no one thought any less of me. Two other guys had a chance but they both blew it when their schedule lightened up a bit. And Lou and I work in the toughest division in the toughest conference in the business.”

Now it was the bartender’s turn to ask for a clarification, “Did the same thing happen in another department five years ago or something?” The salesmen nod, “Yeah, but back then the thought of say, a rematch, was out of the question.” Lou explained, “Didn’t matter, another co-worker of ours ended dominating the front runner. We were all shocked. Really changed the landscape of the company.”

At this time the bartender sensed an opportunity to pitch his product again, “Are you guys sure I can’t pour you a Seers Cristal?” The salesmen would not be sold, “Maybe you’d have more success if you singled-out a particular liquor.” Al suggested, “Give everyone an opportunity to see once and for all who is the best of the best. Hold a tournament so to speak. Bars do that kind of thing. Not one this big but the smaller ones.”

“Well that’s why we have the machine. And we can’t do that to the liquor companies. A “tournament” as you put it would distract them from their finals. All of their employees are students. And we have it on good faith that they value their education above the production of their product. We don’t care, just as long as they don’t get caught. Again-”

“You’ve got to save face,” Lou concluded, “What if you paid them. Not a lot but enough to-”

The bartender interjected, nearly apoplectic, “That would never work! We simply cannot do that!”

“Okay, okay, just a suggestion from a paying customer. No need to get bent out of shape.” Lou retreated.

The bartender took a deep breath as he poured the tequilas, “Sorry, long shift, almost done. Saturday’s are screwy. There’s this huge lull toward the end of the night, so any energy or momentum we have from the happy hour rush is lost. Oh, I keep forgetting, today is Monday. I’m done in ten minutes. You’re sure I can’t interest you-”

“Another time, maybe.” Lou insisted. To his dismay however Al had been steadily eyeballing the Seers Cristal for the last few minutes. “Al? You can’t be serious?”

“Maybe it’s better than we think.” Al theorized. “No, and besides, it was offered to me.” Lou reminded him. “Yeah, but you’ve yet to lock it up.” Al replied, dreaming of that big crystal bowl.

“I’ll buy it!” a boisterous voice calls from behind them. The salesmen turn to see their company‘s CEO, A.P. Poll approach, a wide grin on his face. “One-hundred million is pennies for my Salesman of the Year!”

Lou grins broadly. It’s official, he’s done it. Lou stands and extends his hand…but to his dismay Mr. Poll shakes Al’s instead. Lou’s heart sinks into his stomach. No way!

“Sir, Al won? I don’t understand, I beat him earlier in the year!” Lou cries.

“We don’t really care about that. We pretend we have to but that’s just to please the masses. No, all we really care about is the final week. And I hate to be the barer of bad news Lou, but Al trounced you fair and square. Matter of fact, did you sell anything this week?” Lou admitted he did not, a consequence of having four vacation days which would not carry over into next year.

“Well, better luck next year,” Mr. Poll chuckles sinisterly, “Maybe you’ll blow a few earlier in the year, not like they count.”

Lou begs Mr. Poll to split the award. Mr. Poll doesn’t dismiss the notion outright, much to Al‘s chagrin, but doesn’t provide much in the field of comfort either.

“What about one more chance? I beat him once, he beat me once. Shouldn’t we compete a third time, hold a tie-breaker?” Mr. Poll denies the request. Lou is furious, “I beat him! I beat everyone in my sales division, the only employee in the company to not lose this season! I beat Georgia in the East Suite versus West Suite championship the week after Thanksgiving! Al didn’t qualify to work that week! No one else did! And now because he beats me one time I get nothing?!”

“Yep.”

The punch line?

This is exactly how the NCAA works.

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