Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chapter 16

Frans Laarmans is never confident. Each piece of news is greeted with an internal, "Oh no," and panic. The chapter begins with a letter from Hornstra, the Dutch company he sells for. They're coming for an inspection. His panic leads to a cliche well known to employees of sinking companies: He goes to a consultant. He describes himself as, "Like a man going behind his doctor's back and running off to a quack."

The advice given is fairly standard. He is told to carry himself with confidence, and speak as though he had the backing of the entire Dutch cheese industry.

From there he goes to a cheese shop, and stops to gaze in the window. His visit is ill-timed, coming when the store is clogged with customers. He tries again when it's empty. He tries again, with a perfected pitch that is not understood. He wonders why this only happens when he tries to sell something.

Still, he gets a meeting with the boss. He is ushered into the office, where an order is placed for 14 tons. Then, the boss finds out that Frans is with Hornstra and decides to forget the whole thing.

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