Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist


This week just past was one of my favorite styles of weeks, if that phrase makes any sense. I was off to Boston to make sales calls.

The way we do this is as follows. We set up several key appointments with existing clients and then we fill in the time with cold sales calls. I started the week with three appointments established and a total of 33 other cold calls.

My partner does the research for the cold calls, and then I execute. There is a new piece of software that optimizes the trip so you don’t backtrack in your driving. It puts them in sequence in the best possible order. I have been using it all year, and it works well.

I like the challenge of such a week because there is a lot of reflective introspection time between stops and I get to drive and see the sights. I particularly liked it this week, for the days are long and there is no time for television in a week when the Democrats were hell-bent on finishing destroying the U.S. Constitution and the networks were going to cover it all day long.

As I said, the target was greater Boston. I was up at 3:30 a.m. Monday to take Lyft to the Atlanta airport and grab the 7:30 a.m. flight to Boston. Upon arrival, I got the rental car and started on my list. The first place I went, the receptionist was very rude.

My thought was “what a great week this is going to be." Boston is going to fit my stereotype of the northeast. But my day got better. I ran into some friendly people.

At this age, my gait is a bit old looking, I am stooped shouldered and with my white hair and old man “newsboy” cap, I am often perceived as a kindly grandfather. With my opening line, “They get tired of me in the office and send me on the road making cold calls to get me out from under their feet so they can get some work done,” I can melt most receptionists’ hearts.

Monday was a good start, but I spent a lot of it in the winding narrow streets of downtown Boston.

Tuesday it was very cold, the front had moved in overnight. This endeared me more to the receptionists/gatekeepers. I donned a sweater under my sports jacket and pulled out my heavy knit “newsboy” cap. They started giving me cups of coffee and did their best to make sure I could see the person who was on my list as their decision-maker.

By Wednesday, I was getting desperate for places to relieve myself of all the coffee. Boston has more Dunkin’ Donuts than any place I have ever been. There must be one on every corner. The problem is if you go in to to use the bathroom, you feel obligated to buy something, so the day becomes an endless cycle of donuts and restrooms. The weight gain is palpable.

These days are long. Up at 6 a.m., breakfast in the hotel, on the road. Back to the hotel about 5 or 5:30 p.m. (except Tuesday, when it snowed, I came back early), dinner at the hotel, catch up on emails and go to bed to start the process again the next day.

It was a good week. By the time I got on the plane Friday afternoon, I had completed my 36 stops, driven 755 miles in greater Boston, and our order book for 2020 had experienced a substantial boost.

Arriving back in Atlanta, I went to the proverbial restroom again. The employee working in the restroom was a young man with crippled legs who had one of those arm crutches in one hand and a mop in the other. I stopped and talked to him a bit and told him I admired his work ethic. He was doing a great job.

I use Lyft to go to and from the airport these days, as I mentioned at the beginning. I got to talking to my driver as he took me home. He told me he has had more than 7,000 passengers since he has been driving for Lyft. He is retired and he uses his Lyft earnings to go on mission trips.

When I got home, Laura and the dogs greeted me as if I had been on a long safari in Africa. As I put my head on the pillow, I reflected that America is full of pretty good people. And if you have the opportunity to go out and meet them and keep the Washington news media shut down and out of your mind, this becomes abundantly clear.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at jthompson@taii.com.