Alberto, a magnificent salesman and a better person, burst into my office with the joy that comes from a job well done.
“Interview; Jaime, we have an interview with Décimas!””When?” I asked.
“Tomorrow at eleven o’clock, with Genaro, the marketing director.”
“Genaro … what else?” I asked with interest.
“Well, Genaro, he told me to ask for Genaro. Genaro, just Genaro; and as you can understand, I wasn’t going to c****** insist! I don’t see the problem, I don’t think there are many Genaros in Décimas!…”
The more explanations he gave me, which I had not asked for, I think the more we both realised that it was not going to end well.
The next day, at about half past nine in the morning, we set off for the small town where the offices of the “future client” were located. Leaving an hour and a half early was not because we had to travel a long distance, nor because of the usual traffic jams in the city, the problem was that, at that time, there was no GPS and we always ended up getting lost.
After the obligatory stops at a few petrol stations to retrace our route, we arrived at our destination at the estimated time. There, the only thing we could see was an esplanade of earth and mud, where, on our right, we could see the new town hall, recently built, and on our left, just in front of the first one, a housing development, totally isolated and closed off, with the exception of a small place, with a sign that read: “Club Social”.
We assumed that the attendant at the last petrol station we asked at had made a mistake, so we consulted a passer-by splashing in the mud:
“Here it is impossible, you have already seen that there is nothing here, let alone offices or sports shops; it has to be in the village, go and ask”.
When we reached the village, which was a few kilometres away, we consulted the people we met along the way. Although they admitted they were not sure, they had their own version of the matter. After much questioning, we finally found someone who was reliable and sure of what he was saying:
“That street is the new town hall street”.
And then up again; and down again; and up again; and up again; and down again… Alberto tried to make sure that our gazes met as little as possible, and every time this happened, he told me:
“Jaime, I swear to you, I confirmed the address…; I swear he told me he is the marketing director…; I swear his name is Genaro…”.
And so, between oaths and indications from the locals, it was one o’clock in the afternoon.
“F*** Genaro, we’re going back to the office!”
I’m not usually rude, but it had long since it had long since passed my limts and patience. All that was missing, to make the situation worse, was for authorities to end up fining us for coming and going too much.
“No, no way!” exclaimed Alberto. “If we leave like this, I’ll look like an inept man; which is what you’ve been thinking all morning! I swear…”
After the string of oaths, he made a proposal that I thought was very appropriate:
“Let’s give it one last try, I’ll invite you for a drink in the social club of the neighborhood and we’ll ask for the last time”.
We ordered a drink and took out our frustration on a waitress who turned out to be the owner. When she heard our story, she changed her face and said to us:
“Wait a moment”.
She went to the kitchen door and leaned out said:
“Genaro, there are some gentlemen here who are asking for you”.
And she stepped aside to leave him alone in front of us. With a nervous laugh and a ladle in his hand, I suppose to defend himself if things went too far, Genaro stood motionless in front of us without a word.
The girl explained that Décimas, like all big companies, had been started in the social club of the neighborhood instead of in a garage, and that many people were still calling. As for the rest, she told us that, having already met Genaro, we could get an idea of what had happened. She apologised on Genaro’s behalf and on her own and invited us for a drink. A brave, sincere and kind woman. Anyone else, instead of bringing out “the rat” who was listening to us from the kitchen, would have ignored the matter.
Since then, the Genaro effect has served to remind me that there are people without the slightest hint of empathy, who waste their time wasting other people’s time. Time that is precious to dedicate to current clients or to finding others to whom what you do and offer can really help them.