In the golden era of the salesperson wearing a hat was mandatory.
A professional salesperson simply would not show up for a sales call without his fedora perched on his head.
Of course, driving with your hat on was a problem, and this is where the apocryphal tale begins:
One day while on his way to a call on a particularly hot day, a salesman watches as his hat, perched on the dash, sails out the open window, never to be found.
Concerned that he make a good impression with the client, he heads to the closest milliner, gets a replacement and goes off to the call.
And the end of his road trip, he is speaking to the company bookkeeper about having lost the hat, who rejects the suggestion the company pay for it: “Well that’s your problem; I’m certainly not paying for it. You should have kept your windows closed.”
Unhappy with this, the salesman proceeds to assemble his accumulated expenses over several months worth of crinkled receipts and cash on hand claims and submits them in person, with the bold caveat: “The hat’s in there. If you can find it, I’ll pay for it.”
It is of course, what we would call today urban legend. There are numerous versions of the story, designed to illustrate the dubious benefits of pulling the wool over the eyes of the “bean counter.”
It’s a funny little story, but honesty is always the best policy lest you be caught out. One real world story from Canada’s aftermarket is of a salesperson who stayed too long at the bar on a road trip and needed to put a client’s name down to defray the bill.
Unfortunately, the client he chose was a teetotaler, which created two problems, three if you count the fact that his boss knew this: one, that he was being dishonest; and two, that he didn’t know his client well enough to know that he didn’t drink.
So be honest, be smart, and keep your windows rolled up.