Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chapter 5

Big business.

Our hero is climbing, even though he doesn't know why. He's off on a business trip to Amsterdam, all expenses paid. It's a step up socially. He's a businessman among businessmen. He is better at holding his own in conversations where status is important.

His hesitance and silence is often taken as great wisdom. When asked how much product he needs to start, he hesitates. The man he is talking to nods and says, "Yes, little by little is the way to go."

At one point, he stops by a cheese shop and gazes in the window. It's different now that he looks at it from the point of view of one in the business.

I saw him looking in awe, and saw something different. Cheese shops are all but extinct in the US. They have been subsumed by cheese sections at larger stores. Those that do exist are exercises in snob appeal, not going businesses. The store he sees is extremely small, and the cheeses are extremely big. Nowadays, a couple of pounds is usually as big as it gets. The wheels he gazes upon are enormous. Also, he rattles off the names of a number of varieties in the window. The American cheese market is mainly American and cheddar. You can find all of the other varieties, but they aren't prominently displayed.

Once he returns to the business clique at home, Van Schoonbeke introduces him as one in the food wholesaling business, as opposed to one who deals in cheese. Once again, it's a verbal promotion for unknown reasons, and he leaves, "Feeling like a knight."

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