The Night of the Living Shred(ded) Sales Order
On an unseasonably cold, dark night in early fall, sales rep Barbra was driving back to her hotel after a long day of store visits. Surrounded by a forest of crooked trees, her broken headlight cast a weak glow on the rural, decidedly spooky two-lane road ahead. It was the kind of out-of-the-way country road where one half-expected something to leap out in front of the car at any moment. As a young sales rep for a gift and novelty wholesaler, her last order of the day had been a major breakthrough: a massive order of fake blood, zombie masks, and plastic pumpkin-shaped trick or treating buckets for a Halloween megastore in the heart of Pennsylvania. When she got back to her hotel, she would have to ask the kindly (if a little off-balance in her old age) concierge Mrs. Bates to use the ancient desktop computer in the hotel’s seemingly abandoned business center. She had a long night of data entry ahead. She’d have to enter the information for that last big order as well as the backlog of other sales orders she’d written recently, because two days before, her laptop had been destroyed in a freak accident involving the anxiety-ridden hotel proprietor, whom Barbra took to be Mrs. Bates’s son. Barbra hoped the business center would be open at this time of night. The sales order was sitting on top of Barbra’s cluttered workbag on the passenger’s seat, surrounded by a monstrous pile of heavy product catalogs and zombie mask samples that spilled onto the floor of the car. She couldn’t see the order. Because, you know...it was so dark and all. But she knew it was there; she still couldn’t believe what a sale she’d made. Barbra put more pressure on the gas pedal. She’d be at the hotel in a few minutes, and she really wanted to get this order sent to her office before the end of the day. The owner of the Graveyard Alley Halloween Mega Mart had given her a strict deadline, and she was determined to meet it. Having been on the road since 7:00 AM that morning, Barbra was feeling a bit light-headed and tired, the faded white lines on the asphalt beginning to blur in front of her eyes. She opened her window, hoping the cold, fresh air would wake her up. Disaster struck before she even registered what was happening. A gust of wind shot through the car, and the sales order flew out of the open window. She caught sight of the flimsy sheet of white carbon paper flapping past the rear windshield before it disappeared completely. “Noooooooo!!!!!!!” Barbra slammed on the brakes and hastened out of the car. She dug into her bag for her mobile phone and turned on the flashlight app. It was only then that she noticed she’d stopped next to a small country cemetery. She wandered through the maze of headstones, searching for the sheet of paper that held the biggest deal she’d ever closed in the balance. After ten minutes of frantic searching, she spotted a flash of white in the grass. It was a strip of paper, and upon closer inspection, she found it to be the top righthand corner of her order form, which contained only their company logo. The rest of it had to be close. She continued looking, finding more tattered ribbons of paper. She thought this odd, but figured it must have really gotten ripped up during its tumultuous journey out the window. Despite her thorough search, the crucial piece--the center of the order form containing all the information she needed--was nowhere to be found... Quite suddenly, a slow-moving figure emerged from the shadows, clutching the prized piece of paper in an outstretched hand. Barbra only had eyes for the crumpled order form, now streaked with dirt and ripped almost beyond recognition. “My sales order!” she shouted. As Barbra reached forward, wondering whether she would even be able to read the order once she got back to that cobwebbed computer at the hotel, the figure stepped out of the darkness, there was a flash of silver, and she fell to the ground. The hotel proprietor backed away from Barbra’s lifeless body and slashed the sales order for good measure. The Graveyard Alley Halloween Mega Mart would not be getting their fake blood, zombie masks, or plastic pumpkin-shaped trick or treating buckets this year. If only Barbra had used sales order management software...she might have lived to see the sunrise.