Turning Point

Continuing from the previous issue, let me tell you some more about my younger days. This episode goes back to the time when I was working for a real estate company and taking a prospective customer to see a villa property in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture.

The family that I was dealing with, the Kurodas, consisted of the parents and a boy and girl in elementary school. The husband was a department head in charge of overseas business. I visited them several times. I asked Mr. Tomizawa, who had introduced them to me, what things might please the parents and what the children would like, so they were delighted with the gifts that I took along.

On the day when they visited Nasu, we met, as they had suggested, at Ueno Station and boarded the train. When I took drinks, lunch boxes, and sweets to them in their first-class compartment, I could see that they were having a jolly time together. On returning to my seat in a second-class compartment, Mr. Kanuma, a department chief in our company who was accompanying us and who, I remember, had a distinctive handlebar mustache, said to me, “You’re an odd fellow, Wada. You give the customers first-class seats both going and coming back and deliver drinks and lunch boxes to them. Almost all of our salespeople give customers second-class tickets, even when returning after a deal has been made, and pocket the difference themselves. It’s the first time for me to come across someone like you.” I thought what I was doing was only natural. Speechless, I just smiled back.

We boarded the train at Ueno, visited the site, and concluded the deal on the spot. I had already delivered the necessary documents to the customer, so all they had to do was complete the purchase procedures at out local office there. There was plenty of time before our return train, so I hired a taxi and, much to their delight, took them around the tourist spots in the vicinity. Exhausted after such an enjoyable day, the children slept soundly on the journey back.

A few days later, when I went to say thanks to Mr. Kuroda, he introduced me to my next customer, Mr. and Mrs. Mase. “I already told them about you,” said Mr. Kuroda, his wife smiling by his side, “so please visit them.” Expressing my profuse gratitude to them, I next visited the Mases. My appointment was for lunch time. When I arrived, the elderly husband told me to come on in, and on the table a splendid meal was waiting for me. I was full of gratitude. “Well, eat up!” said the wife. “We heard about you from Mr. Kuroda,” explained the husband, “so we don’t need to see the site. We’ll buy what you recommend.” “No, it would be better for you to see the site,” I insisted, but they were adamant. “No, we’ll go with what you recommend.”

I enjoyed a marvelous lunch and spent an amazing time at their house. When I was leaving, I told them that I would call again to recommend a property and complete the contract procedures. “We’ll be paying by cash, so we’ll have the money ready,” they said. When I told them that a section chief would be accompanying me, because our company’s rule was for two people to come to collect the money, they replied uncompromisingly, “Just come yourself, Mr. Wada.” I managed to persuade the section chief and had him wait nearby.

Again there was a wonderful meal waiting for me, and the three of us spent an enjoyable time together. When I then handed over the cash that I had received to the section chief, he said, “I’ll be taking 30% commission. That’s how our company works.” Aged 23 at the time, I couldn’t accept that situation at all. And I felt so sorry for the Mase couple too. I ended up having a big row with the 43-year-old section chief, who had done nothing to help complete the deal. (To be continued.)