The sun was getting robust. Having watched the theatre shows on the stage over the weekend, I was tempted to stay home. Without giving it a second thought, I immediately put on my cap and sunglass, chose the route with more trees, and stretched my legs.

On my way, I went into a supermarket to pick up my Sunday papers and packed nibbles. As I headed next to the nearest stock on the racks, some packages that were awkwardly full to burst caught my eye. Some looked like they were repeatedly tampered with, while others were torn, flaunting the products inside. I called the nearby duty-bound sales worker to listen to and resolve my complaints.

He barely understood the basics of food safety factors and food-borne illness prevention. He insisted on pointing out that the product's expiry date was not due. This led me to conclude that he lacks the necessary training to complete his duties following a well-established procedure. It is nothing but mastery of a salesperson's safe working practices. Then on the checkout line, I witnessed incompetence in core sales skills without which a salesperson cannot be imagined.

There was an item on a discount sale close to a throw-away price. When I asked what it was, no one among the salespersons had the remotest idea. No wonder it was on discount in bulk.

I carried on with my walk, talking with my thoughts. The story of a man who worked for a railway company came to my mind.

It was reported that one day as he went into the freezer compartment to do his routine work, the door accidentally closed, and he found himself trapped.

He shouted for help, but since it was past midnight, no one heard him. He tried to break down the door, but he could not; he struggled to sustain the cold but could not. After unsuccessful attempts to escape freezing to death, he felt tired, signalling that the end was near.

Finally, he decided to write his last words on the compartment wall.

"I am freezing, and I am getting weaker over time. If anyone sees this, it may be my last words."

The other workers found him dead in the freezer early the next day. The sad twist was that the unfortunate worker believed the freezing apparatus was working perfectly. He was so consumed by the thought of freezing to death that he failed to recognise that the freezer had stopped working a few days earlier. His thought has killed him.

Salespersons are expected to be conversant while dealing with customers, following the sequences of scenes leading to the ultimate purchase. Apart from the apparent knowledge of the products, sales must include safe product handling, the associated risks, and how to implement the appropriate controls. Operation leaders should make an effort to make safety a valued culture equal to productivity.

Businesses may develop and maintain occupational health and safety policies that meet specific standards. They may arrange to check for qualities and product management. All severe risks may be identified with the objective of early detection of hazards. However, all these will not mean much if the end-user cannot get the proper information. It is essential for the seller to know the requirements and for the worker to analyse the environment.

The businesses' lifeline depends on them.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 12,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1176]

Tadesse Tsegaye (, a polyglot with experience in multicultural-cum-institutional settings in resources management.

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