"That's what I need," Matthew said wistfully between bites of chicken salad. "A traveling steak salesman."
It sounded like a daydream for an idle Saturday evening, and I laughed as the pickup truck that inspired my boyfriend's reverie drove slowly down the street, its custom paint job advertising meat.
Certainly this slow-moving truck was traveling the dead-end street for someone else, I thought, as we ate dinner on Matthew's front porch. The truck passed his house and then did a careful U-turn. It was headed back our way.
Must be lost, I figured.
The driver eased into Matthew's driveway and got out.
"He probably wants directions," I said.
The driver, a man in his late 50s or early 60s, mounted the porch steps and then backed away when he noticed we were eating, but Matthew put him at ease with an eager, "Are you selling steak?"
He was, giving my salivating beau a dream come true.
"Show us what you've got," Matthew said, shoveling down the rest of his asparagus and chicken salad as the man went back to his truck.
Even I, who have an icy heart and glazed stare for unsolicited sales, was intrigued. We had just been talking that morning about how we wanted to start buying better meat from a butcher, and this appearance seemed fortuitous.
The man came back and started his spiel, which included the usual elements to promote on-the-spot sales: He needed to get rid of it fast and would give us a good deal, the meat was all-natural and flash frozen in vacuum packs, and it was guaranteed against freezer burn for a year.
The cuts looked good, better than what I usually buy at the grocery store, and the prices seemed comparable or better than what I normally pay. We opened our wallets, and before we knew it we were sitting next to two cases of meat and grinning at each other at the surreal experience.
I have to agree with Matthew: A traveling meat salesman does seem like a great idea. I like getting things delivered to my home rather than having to go out and get them. That's why I and so many other people like online shopping: I can pick
what I want in a few minutes without battling traffic, then come home from work a few days later and find the package waiting.
And getting goods delivered to one's home is an old practice.
My parents and many others of their generation got milk delivered to their homes when they were children. My grandmother had fond memories of her family getting visits from the "ice man" when she was a girl, delivering frozen blocks that the family would put in the ice box.
During my own childhood, Schwann's made a well-known business of delivering frozen goods to rural homes. I was among the customers who looked forward to the big yellow truck's arrival, because it meant my mother would buy some ice cream and, hopefully, the toffee bar ice cream pops that I liked.
Like many mothers, mine shrewdly thwarted my sister's and my attempts to get too many sweet impulse buys at the grocery store. But the Schwann's truck was a different matter. She seemed to be more at ease then, more able to let down her guard and order a treat, even asking us what we wanted.
I felt the same way on Saturday night as I sat in an Adirondack chair and listened to a sales pitch with my full attention, not thinking about what else I needed to do, as I do when I'm out and about. With a dinner plate beside me, I felt cheery and generous, thinking more about how rich I would feel with all that meat in the freezer than how poor I would feel without the money in my wallet.
So I said yes.
And it was like a dream come true for me, too.
Tatiana Zarnowski lives in Ballston Spa, N.Y., and hopes that the traveling meat salesman visits her again someday soon.
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