Entertaining Angels: The Sales Rep

Is Hebrews 13:2 true?  Have some entertained angels without knowing it? 

In my early twenties, I was the buyer for my family’s manufacturing company. A buyer deals with many different types of sales representatives, for many different types of products, from many different vendors. I bought whatever raw materials, tools, or supplies we needed to make what our customers ordered.

One of those orders was for the piston housings of the M1A1 Abrams Army tank’s engine. A particular challenge was finding a lathe tool bit holder that could fit in the bore’s unusual bottom shape and was robust enough to reach the 14-inch depth without chattering. I custom ordered it from a national tool supplier. It arrived within two weeks and worked perfectly. Production continued. We subsequently made thousands of these housings and the pistons that went into them.

lathe

The day before the tool arrived, one of the company’s sales reps called me. He wanted to visit onsite to make sure the tool was working as desired. It was a typical follow up request and the right thing for him to do as we did a lot of business with them. The appointment was scheduled for two days later.

I hadn’t met this particular sales rep before. He introduced himself and handed me his business card bearing the corporate logo, his name, job title, office address, and phone number – I placed it on top of my four-inch stack of business cards that was in my desk drawer. He looked as average as a man could look: average height, average build, average age, light brown thinning hair, tan trench coat. In every way, he was unremarkable.

shopfloor

 

The six-foot wide walkway from the office area through the shop floor to the CNC lathe using the new tool, was marked off with four-inch wide yellow safety stripes painted on the concrete floor. The noisy spinning, turning, and grinding sounds of numerous machines were punctuated by the periodic screeches of air hoses clearing away metal chips. The air carried the combined unpleasant odors of vaporized coolant –a unique mildewy bad milk smell – and the acrid smoke of burnt oil. I never did like that environment.

airhose

 

We strode along the walkway discussing, in great detail, our previous orders and future needs. His knowledge and concern were impressive. When we arrived at the CNC lathe we discussed the effectiveness of the new tool bit holder with the operator and shop foreman, my oldest brother and the one who engineered the solution. We were all very satisfied with the design and quality of the tool and with the company’s responsiveness to our needs. I ordered a few more for the long production run.

This was a personally stressful time for me. My fiancée and I – now my beloved wife of 34 years – were planning our upcoming wedding. I was also preparing to attend seminary three thousand miles away and to make the drive that would get us there. Many details were involved in starting out on the great adventure called “the rest of our lives.” It was as stressful as it was exciting. But I never shared any personal information with him. We talked tools.

When we rounded a corner, he stopped, gently placed his hand on my arm, looked intently into my eyes and authoritatively said, “Don’t worry. Everything will be okay.”

“Thank you,” was my bewildered response. We walked on. The exchange was quite … odd.

After he left, I worked at my desk pondering his unusual promise. I pulled his business card from the stack and fingered it pensively, wondering: “Who was this guy?”

The longer I thought about it, the more I wanted to find out why he said what he said and what he knew. I needed to talk with him again. So, a few hours later, when I knew he had time to return to his office, I called the number on the card.

The person who answered said, “I’m sorry, but we have no sales rep by that name.”

“How can that be?” I insisted. “He was just here a few hours ago. I’m holding his business card in my hand!”

“There’s just no one here by that name,” she repeated.

I didn’t give up. “Maybe he’s new. Could you please check if a sales rep was recently hired without your knowledge?”

“Um, okay, I’ll ask,” she was annoyed. I waited on hold for several minutes.

“I verified with the manager that there is no one here by that name and there have not been any new sales people hired in well over a year,” she confirmed. “Do you want me to connect you to your assigned sales rep?”

“No. That won’t be necessary. Thank you for checking.” I hung up, confused. Apparently, I had spent an hour’s time discussing tool performance with someone who didn’t exist. I could only arrive at the unlikely conclusion that I had indeed entertained an angel without knowing it.

Perhaps you have too. After all, It’s a Wonderful Life!


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Dr. Rob Oberto is the award-winning author of “Intimacy With God: Extraordinary miracles that opened a skeptic’s heart to God” available from Amazon.

©2016-2017 Rob Oberto, All Rights Reserved.

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