The demonstrator

No, I’m not going to write about political demonstrators. What I am about here is the job of demonstrating equipment to prospective buyers, one of the many types of work I have done over the years. I worked for an organization representing various manufacturers of construction equipment in regions where the sales were not sufficient to support a “house” salesman. Our company made this viable by representing about 20 companies who made related, but not competing, equipment. Here is some of the fun stuff I did.

Park Avenue Garage vs. Harlem Subway: A Park Avenue garage had a problem with deteriorating patches of concrete. With the help of one of my cohorts, we hauled a 500-lb. machine into the depths and showed how to remove the deteriorating (spalling) concrete so that it could be effectively resurfaced while dodging Mercedes and BMW cars speeding down the ramps. That was the morning.

We then travelled uptown to a neighborhood in which, no matter where you stood, you could always see at least one foot patrolman. Disturbing. The concertina wire around the parking lot should have been a clue. We were then approached, as we made our way to the subway entrance, by a volunteer guide who, for a small sum, would ensure that we found our way with a minimum of difficulty.

The fact that we were all carrying wrenches for the next demo may have had a hand in discouraging his persistence. I do not now remember exactly what we were showing. What I do remember is the subway trains whizzing past my head so I guess it had something to do with the edges of the platform.

• • •

Speaking of whizzing, there was the day on a busy Rockland County highway with one of those painted center islands. They wanted to reconfigure the thermoplastic and paint lines, and we had just the machine for the job.

Proudly I ran my equipment along the line, effectively obliterating it. I saved some line for the prospect and stepped back so he could take over. I felt a breeze on the back of my neck and something touched my hair. I turned my head to see what this was about and noticed a truck mirror receding into the distance. It had my name on it. Fortunately it was misspelled.

Now this traffic line remover was heavy. I always needed help getting it in and out of my company van. Having just finished a demonstration in front of Sienna College, I went back to the van to get the chains to secure the load once we got it reloaded. Imagine my surprise to find myself the last man standing.

Never do a demo late on a Friday.

Bill Abrams survived to tell another tale; he resides in Pine Plains.