Bygone Days

Let me continue the story of my life. Last month’s recollections ended with me visiting my hometown in Oita Prefecture during my university’s winter vacation, realizing that there was no place for me there, and returning to Tokyo. Aboard the Hinoyama express train, I chatted with a nun sitting opposite me all the way to Osaka. When we parted, she said to me encouragingly, “You are sure to be successful, so do your best!”

I arrived in Tokyo in the late afternoon and thereafter really did try to do my best, but I was short of money, so eventually I decided to quit university. I found a job at Sun Kanko, a real estate company with around 300 employees that sold land for villas in Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture. In the sales section to which I was assigned, there were two young people who were slightly older than me (I was 23 at the time), but everyone else was in their forties or over. Most of them were the targets of restructuring.

I decided that I would try door-to-door sales at 100 homes a day. I was knocking on doors from early morning until around 9 o’clock at night, without taking a single day off. To make matters worse, sometimes I was met with shouts of “What time do you think it is, you idiot?!” But still, I managed to make a list of 3,000 homes.

It was like door-to-door canvassing for an election, and it was hard to find any promising customers. One customer was on the verge of making a purchase, but it was snatched away from me by a shrewd salesman in another department. When I visited the customer again, I was told that the other salesman had offered a cheaper price. Not having been told anything about that, I was mortified.

Still, having visited 3,000 homes in a month, I also felt a kind of confidence brimming inside me. Speaking with so many people had been an invaluable experience, and I was ready for the next step.

One day I visited a small restaurant where sometimes, in my student days, I had gone from my part-time job to eat lunch. There, by coincidence, I met a gentleman I knew called Mr. Ito. “What are you doing now?” he asked. “Is it going well?” “I’ve only just started,” I replied assuredly.

“Shall I introduce you to someone?” Mr. Ito asked. This was a first experience for me, so I bowed my head and answered, “Yes, please do.” Mr. Ito got on the phone, and less than 10 minutes later he handed me a note and said, “Here, get in touch with this person. I’ve told him about you, so he will be expecting a call. Do your best!”

After the meal, I left the restaurant and called the number. “Come over right way,” I was told. When I visited, the husband said they would buy, and his wife appeared saying, “Let’s all go and see the place!” A few days later I went with the two of them to see the site. Since I had already obtained the necessary documents from the local government office, everything went extremely smoothly. I was so surprised, I cried with joy.

That couple then said they could introduce someone else and, like before, immediately got on the phone. The new customer told me that they would be expecting me in a couple of days’ time. When I visited, I was told that they were interested in buying. Probably because of my meticulous response, they clearly took a liking to me. When that family said they wanted to see the site, I visited them again with first-class tickets for four people. Our company had a rule that prospective customers visiting the site should be given second-class tickets, with first-class tickets only going to customers who had agreed to purchase. But on this occasion, even though they had not yet made a final agreement, I decided at my own discretion to give them first-class tickets. I prepared drinks and lunch boxes for them too. (To be continued.)