It was a predawn Friday morning and Grant was finishing up a two weeks long sales trip. It was a lengthy time to be away from home, but he was opening up a new territory and he knew that always took extra time and effort. He hurriedly packed up from the backwater, small town, motel room, still drowsy from a short night’s sleep and no coffee, yet. He anxiously hopped in his car and sped away in search of an open convenience store.
After a short search he found a mini-mart open with stout black coffee, probably brewed the night before. He dashed back into his car and under a star filled black sky he found the I-40 entrance and headed home. As he drove through the morning darkness, he thought of the varying degrees of success he had had with his sales presentations and meetings, -the new customers who would become long term partners and loyal clients, the ones who would need more work, and a few who probably wouldn’t buy from him at all. The coffee brought a zen-like clarity to these thoughts. When the coffee buzz subsided he popped in a sales training CD his boss had given him: Achieving Sales Success through Attention to the Details. He had listened to it religiously over the two weeks, and he was almost ninety percent through the program.
As he drove along at 80 miles per hour, unhindered by the empty road, the sun slowly began to rise and illuminate the long, flat treeless interstate landscape. And then, suddenly he saw a massive, shredded truck tire in his lane just ahead. He quickly swerved into the left lane missing the tire remnants. Relieved at not driving into the deep ditch dividing the interstate or hitting another vehicle, he looked into the rear-view mirror to check for traffic, to see what he may have veered into -nothing. That was lucky, he thought.
However, there was an uneasy feeling, …something didn’t seem quite right. He thought for a few minutes about what am I missing here? And then after another five miles he looked again into the rear-view mirror and he noticed what he was missing. The bar across the back seat where he normally hung his clothes and product samples -was empty. As he realized his utter inattention to that detail, he read a passing road sign: Next Exit, 40 Miles.