Back in the 1964/65, my friend Don (last name withheld) and I worked at the New York’s World’s Fair on Long Island. We had a record Company in NYC, attempting to cover some well-known British artists from the sixties. However, on several occasions to support our efforts and for financial survival, we had to step outside the box, and this was one of those occasions.
During our tenure at the World’s Fair, I vividly recall we sold encyclopedias in a building called “The Better Living Center”. Any of the older folk around at the time who visited the World’s Fair will remember that particular minefield of a building. It was only three floors but installed in between them were two sneaky Mezzanines. The escalators would ride the visitor to the top floor, but there was no down escalator. Plus, the elevators would deliver visitors to the top floor and there were no buttons outside the elevator to enact a quick retreat. All that existed was a key slot. The deal was that, with the exception of manned emergency exits, there was no way out unless the visitor walked past every exhibit that also included the two Mezzanines. So, guests to the building had to wind their way around in circles descending at a dismally slow rate. There was a competing encyclopedia company on the top floor, while we were selling on the second floor, which meant that the frustrated visitor was a real hard sell at our exhibit stand.
The pitch was filling in a card for a chance to win a free trip to Bermuda. As the signing of the free trip was going on, the sales story for the encyclopedias started and if they had already signed with the competing Company on the top floor, our job was to cancel their purchase in favor of ours. Both of us had an enormous amount of success in our efforts and the unknown bonus, only after a sale, was that we could assist the buyer out of the building. There were hundreds of occasions that frustrated visitors, particularly New Yorkers would get in our faces demanding, “How the hell do you get outta here?” They would point to the elevator a short distance away whining that there were no buttons to call the car. Our pitch was that it was for security and safety reasons as there were too many people in the building and the elevators would be crowded and unsafe.
It was often comical staring at the frustrated people at the elevator searching for the call button and being so close by, we got a lot of pleading members of the public seeking answers. Ironic as it was, there was never one occasion that either of us saw a person try his or her own house or car keys. You see any key would call the elevators, but not one member of the public seemed to figure this out, making the building design a smart con to ensure the public had to see all the exhibits. Obviously, once we did a sale, we could be more than helpful and escort our buyer to the elevator and use our special key. I believe I used the key to our apartment while Don used the key to the Chevy Corvair, yes Corvair. Remember those suckers? Obviously, there was cunning rational to our willing assistance, as we were aware that the competing encyclopedia Company on the third floor also had an exhibit on the ground floor and they would show no mercy at “popping” our sale. That means cancelling our deal in favor of theirs, just as we had done on several occasions to their sales. Our lifesaver was the fact that after a sale, all the person/s wanted to do was to get to hell out of the building as fast as possible as the tedious adventure into the Better Living Center was eating up their entire day at the World’s Fair. So that’s the set up or should I say ACT 1.