Glengarry Glen Sauce

They call it New South. It's a funny name, because it's been around for some 20 odd years -- but you hear it now and again in corporate sales meetings and commercials where companies based up north try to sell us things on TV. But most frequently the "New South" reveals itself as sort of an all-encompassing attitude adopted by companies, businesspeople, and politicians in this part of the world that seeks to shed all the negative connotations people have with this part of the country.
In other words, the New South isn’t so much new as it
is a desperate attempt to distance people from the "old."
The new south is business-minded. Smart. They believe in equality, and are frequently ashamed of the sins of the Confederate past. But at the same time they're almost overly polite, dress a little more business-casually than you'd expect them too, and can easily ramble on about college football for hours if you let them.
Renaissance rednecks.
They also rarely have southern accents. This is because the majority of the businesspeople who play this card are transplants. Smiling, firm handshaking sales-type dudes who just can't wait to tell you how they grew up in Michigan but then came here after college and just fell in love with the place.
The weather, the people, the golf..
I don't know what it's like where you are, but around here it's almost like a suit sales guys put on when they deal with clients who don't live here. What's even funnier is the way they take it off and become the "I don't know how you bumpkins do it down here, but back in Detroit we don't like excuses. What we like is straight answers and hard work, capiche?"

In other words, the New South is sorta like that fine china your ex-wife swears you need to spend hundreds of dollars on so you can pull it out whenever really important people come over for dinner.
It's impressive, but it's not necessarily the truest picture of who you are.
I'm not saying all sales guys are a-holes (although I've met quite a few), but I'm saying there's a certain level of smiling cutthroat-ness that you have to have in order to succeed in that gig, and it's not always the kind of thing you can just shut off.

At the same time, when you're a hard-charger from up North who knows how to do business a certain way -- you have to imagine that there's a certain amount of suckiness that comes from having to sort of put a muzzle on it in order to fold it into the way that things are done south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Not that those kinds of things probably don't happen in other places, but one of the things I've noticed working at a company that deals almost exclusively with Northern and International clients is that there's almost as much "selling the atmosphere" as there is "selling the product" going on. In other words, whenever we get some big whale client coming down from Baltimore to see how our operation runs -- there’s a lot of golf involved. There's a lot of "We'll tour the facility -- but then we'll go take in some local color for lunch".

And I'm not naïve enough to think that potential clients don't look at pitch meetings as potential mini-vacations where they're gonna get at least one free meal and a couple of comped tee times in a sunny climate at a time of year where the links back home are probably covered in permafrost -- but when everyone's working the okey-doke like this, you sometimes wonder how anything ever gets done.
But we do keep getting new projects to work on around here -- so somebody upstairs must be doing something right.
The funny thing is that while you can easily add the southern to the salesman, you can't always get the douchebag out of the guy who's earning commission -- even when he's trying to do you a solid.

Case in point -- one of the cards our sales guys apparently keep in their sleeve whenever a big fish from out of town gets on the line is the BBQ lunch meeting. It's a thing of beauty -- guys in dress jackets and women in business suits all gathered around a conference table talking numbers are prompted to take a break and let their hair down a bit -- at which point a huge spread of Sonny's BBQ gets wheeled in, and everyone gets their fingers sticky.

One of the things I never really realized living in this part of the country for so many years is that real BBQ doesn't exist everywhere. So when you have a chance to get the authentic stuff, you've gotta jump on it. But much like eating a full Maine lobster -- the taste is only part of the experience. Real BBQ is work. You have to get in there with your fingers, peel stuff off. You're not getting out of the experience without getting a little messy -- so almost instantly the suit jackets come off and the sleeves get rolled up. Things get incredibly casual in a hurry, and a good salesman can use that shift in tone to their advantage.
As a result, the Sonny's truck has become a bit of a harbinger around here.
Because not everyone gets the BBQ. If you're a tough sell, or you're representing a fat payday -- expect to get some ribs. But if you need us more than we need you, or there's not that much to be gained either way, you're going to the Town Center to rub elbows with the locals on your way to a quick lunch.
Why do I care about this?
Because no one brings leftovers back from the Capital Grille.
But when you see that Sonny's BBQ truck in the parking lot -- that's a call to action.

Anyone who's ever worked as a cubicle cowboy knows that the most important thing about scavenging leftovers is timing. You have to get there early. Just because there's a lot of stuff leftover from the sales meeting doesn't mean it's all worth eating. And with BBQ meals, showing up late when the email goes out alerting people to "Enjoy a free lunch compliments of the sales staff" means one thing:
Cole Slaw.
No one eats cole slaw. Why would they -- it's disgusting. So whenever there are BBQ leftovers you're guaranteed an entire platter of ice-cold-congealed-because-it-was-utterly-ignored-during-the-actual-lunch-proceedings cole slaw will be there, but it's only the early birds who will have a shot at the surplus chicken, pork, and beef.

Which is why I have a bone to pick with our sales guys. Or actually better said, don't have any bones to pick -- which is why I'm pissed off. Because I can say with high confidence that when there's extra BBQ around, I'm always among the first to answer the call -- and the last couple of times the Sonny's truck has shown up in the parking lot:
ALL that's been left out for the rest of us is cole slaw and baked beans.
Seriously, how can I be expected to eat this pudding if you're not gonna give us any meat?

Your email specifically said "Free BBQ compliments of the sales staff" -- but what you've left us with is soooo far from being barbecue that I'm literally insulted. Sure, people serve baked beans and slaw as side dishes at BBQ meals, but in no part of the country could these count as entrees -- especially after they've been sitting around untouched for an hour or two.
Something that speaks volumes about the overall appeal of shredded
cabbage and carrots dunked in mayonnaise, when you think about it.
But beyond all that is just the sheer WTF factor that's involved in this gesture. Who offers you a free plate of slaw and beans and calls it BBQ? Sure you can never predict how much the clients going to eat, but if you've got nothing leftover worth advertising -- isn't it sort of a dick move to offer it anyways?
Which when you think about it is kind of the reason I generally dislike salespeople in the first place.
I'd actually think a little more of you if you knew me well enough to not send out that email. If you spared me the excitement of thinking there was something tantalizing and delicious around the corner only to find the crushing defeat of realizing that it’s nothing I would ever want to put in my mouth.
Because when you get right down to it -- nothing's more "old south" than that.

[Listening To:  Dizzy Gillespie"Manteca" ]

Comments

Werdna said…
If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! how can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?
Satorical said…
REAL tomato ketchup, Eddie?

That is some bs. "There are leftover side dishes" would at least give you the heads-up.
JerseySjov said…
im upset right with you. id probably secretly shed a tear back at my desk while eating my cole slaw and beans [hey free food's free food]