I shouldn't be surprised that I didn't get my way; when do I ever? The Charlie Cowells of the world just don't end up with what they want.
Anyone would say I should be happy with what I got; not only did I successfully find and expose Harold Hill, he also won't ever be conning anyone again, even if I didn't really cause the latter. He's out of my way and out of any other salesman's way, but that's not what I wanted. Like I mentioned before, I just don't ever get my way.
I was born in a really small town in Kentucky and grew up with nothing to look forward to but the day I could finally achieve my dream of traveling. That's not to say I had a bad childhood, just a really uninteresting one. Nothing new happened and, crimeny, I wanted out!
I didn't care where I went, all I cared about was that I would get to see the rest of the country, maybe even the world if I was lucky enough. I would work and work, saving for the day I could leave, when I first heard about the most amazing career I had ever heard of: the traveling salesman.
Imagine! Getting to go from city to city, just like I had always dreamed, and get paid for it! And so, with the money I had made, I left my home and headed to the nearest city I could find to look for someone who wanted to hire me as a traveling salesman.
My search wasn't the luckiest one; jobs weren't open at the time and there seemed to be no room for a new salesman to join. I jumped from city to city, my search frequently hindered by having to take brief jobs in order to keep funding the quest for employment.
Finally, in Chicago, I was sure that I would soon have to return home. It had been months and I had had no success, no matter how many jobs I took, I couldn't keep myself funded for long, and I was unsure if I could go any farther from home. If I did and was unsuccessful, I might not be able to make it back.
However, I had one of the few extremely lucky moments in my life: I finally, finally, found a job, finally got hired, and would soon begin my career as a traveling anvil salesman.
I admit that, even then, I knew this wasn't the best job anyone could get. People all over weren't exactly jumping at the chance to buy anvils, and that was clearly the reason they had a spot open for me. I didn't care about any of this, however, because I finally had the job, finally would begin to get to enjoy traveling without worrying when I would get a job, finally was a traveling salesman.
I can't say that business was the greatest, but it went better than expected and I honestly thought that I must have a gift for selling. (Looking back, it was more due to the fact that there weren't many anvil salesmen around and not due to my people skills. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more than a bit coarse.) It wasn't until I started in my third state, Illinois, that I first heard of him.
If there's one thing I did learn growing up, it's that for a man to truly be successful, he had to be honest and hardworking. Living in a semi-poor family and then working hard just to support my search for a job left me with a loathing for anyone who lived the easy life dishonestly.
"Professor" Harold Hill, the conman and scam artist, was not someone I was fond of despite, never meeting him. In fact, just thinking about him got me fired up, even then. That was before the first time I got run out of town, with the only explanation being, "We already dealt with that Hill fella, we don't want any more of you!"
After the third time this happened, I had an even more intense hatred for this man than ever before; not only was he making a mockery of salesman everywhere and a dishonest thief, but the swindling, two-bit thimble-rigger was directly affecting me and hurting my sales.
It was on a train bound for Iowa where I met him. Me and a couple of other salesman, a few of which I knew from other trips, were idly bickering about the use of credit among other things, when someone asked us, "Ever meet a fella by the name of Hill?"
As the all discussed him, I tried to get into the conversation to see if anyone had met him or knew where he was- I had decided to take any and all opportunities to expose him- with my shouts of, "Just a minute!" and, "He's a fake and he doesn't know the territory!"
When the attention was finally on me, I let them all know about his band scheme and how, should I come across him, he would be exposed, once and for all. I made one comment about how he wouldn't be selling in Iowa and, almost as if he had been summoned there, a somewhat quiet salesman stood up.
"Gentlemen," he said, "you intrigue me. I think I'll have to give Iowa a try."
I knew it was him, but still found myself saying, "Don't believe I caught your name."
"Don't believe I dropped it," he replied, showing me his suitcase and confirming that he was in fact Harold Hill. Then he made his escape at the stop in River City, Iowa.
I was so close, I knew that, and I just couldn't resist the chance of finally getting justice for him. In a few weeks' time, I was back in River City and ready to expose him.
It all started with that girl of his. Considering the people in town weren't the friendliest, I was only told that the mayor lived on Elm Street. Not knowing that there was a west and an east, I ended up on East Elm, at the home of that pretty little piano teacher.
Time and time again, she attempted to stall me to save Hill, and no matter how many times I figured it out, she still managed to stall me once and for all with a kiss. Yes, I admit, I was nearly prevented from my goal because of a woman; like I mentioned before, I was coarse and didn't get much female attention.
Because of her stalling, I had to choose to get on the train and give up or stay in River City and risk losing my job. I had come so close to victory over Hill that I decided I would stay.
Things went so well at first; I got the town to form an angry mob and began the search for him and they caught him. There was even talk of tar and feathers! Everything was going perfectly, until that girl of his spoke up in his defense and all the townspeople seemed to agree with her.
The mayor turned things back in my favor by asking them where the band was, but is it any surprise that, at that moment, the band made its grand entrance? My last chance was when the band began to play horribly, showing that they had been taught nothing, but, somehow, the parents loved it and Harold Hill was no longer hated in their community.
He was going to get a happy ending as a reformed conman with the pretty wife and an adoring town surrounding him. He got no punishment, I got no acknowledgement.
I got fired for not making that train and as I sit on what may be my last train ride in my life, I realize that it's no wonder things didn't go my way. When have they? I wanted to get out of my town, but I couldn't find a job as a traveling salesman. Once I did, it was a poor one with little chance of success. Once I became successful, Hill showed up and my sales were horribly hurt. Once I got close to catching Hill, I ultimately failed.
I'm going back home now, where I'll succeed my father in running the small grocery store our family owns. I probably won't ever get the chance to travel again, but it's not surprising. After all, when do things ever go my way?