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Archive for July 11th, 2008

The scene opens on a farm in the foothills of Tennessee. A hitching post stands in the foreground, camera left.  A silver-haired man approaches, riding a donkey.  This is Gary, gentleman farmer and 6-time sales leader for a hospital supply company.

The donkey stops and Gary dismounts. He approaches the camera and says,

“Get off your ASS and sell the entire product line!”

That’s a wrap, people! Thanks for making the two-hour flight to Nashville, followed by a 90-minute drive to…wherever we are. See you at Cannes!

That was just one stop on the “Our Company Has Too Much Money” tour of 1998.  Everyone involved…the video crew, Gary, the donkey…was a little embarrassed by the proceedings, but we had a job to do.

The day began with the 7:30 Comair from Cincinnati to Nashville, followed by the usual baggage claim and rental van hassles. Then, a long drive further and further from civilization. Finally, we hit a dirt road (no kidding) and make the turn into the holler (oh, yes) to find a charming little farm at the foot of a mountain.

Gary was en route, so his wife showed us around. She introduced us to all of the critters; ducks, dogs, donkeys, pot-belly pigs and loads of cats. “That one’s Precious.  That one’s Butch, and the all-white one is Snowball.” And so on.

We were able to back the van up to the shooting location, which was a treat. We rarely ever get the opportunity to drive into the 4th-floor conference room of a major metro hospital! We popped the hatch, unloaded the bare essentials, and then shot the classic scene I only WISH I could have written.

Suddenly, we’re finished…and the ITCH hits: maybe we can make the 1:30 flight instead of the 5:15! Gotta go! Just throw the crap in the van…I’ll pack cases while you drive! We threw, slammed, and blasted off…fishtailing and tossing gravel just like every episode of Dukes of Hazzard.

We made the 90-minute drive in fifty-six minutes, and screeched to a halt at Delta check-in.  Doors fly open, bags start tumbling out, skycaps approach and I reach for my wallet. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash of white.

“Holy crap…it’s SNOWBALL!” I turn to see my partner standing and pointing, his jaw hanging open.  I follow his point, and see a white cat zipping down the sidewalk in a complete panic, over suitcases, under baggage carts, between legs. I race after the cat (go, OJ, go!) and very nearly catch her when she leaps onto the moving baggage conveyor, heading right into…wherever it goes. Call me a cat-lover, but I scrambled onto the belt myself. My last glimpse was of Snowball descending a long, slow ramp into the darkness. Then two skycaps grabbed me by my belt and dragged me out of the chute.

We agonized over this all the way to Crown Room, where we promptly did rock-paper-scissors to decide who was going to call Gary.  And what do you say? Snowball’s not dead, exactly. She’s merely…transcended this reality.  Yes, existentialism should cloud the issue nicely. Start dialing!

In the end Gary was, shall we say, NOT devastated by this news. “So, you killed one of my fifteen cats, huh? That’s life on the farm. Have a good trip, fellers.” But the lesson was learned. New policy: on all future donkey farm shoots, close van doors tightly. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

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