About twenty years ago I read a story about a salesman who had been befriended by a ghost. This ghost rode along with him on the road, and seemed to have been a salesman himself while on the earth plane. The ghost seemed pretty reticent about his earthly life, saying he is not who he was.
Lacking a name for this entity, the salesman, whose own name was Randy Speer, decided to call him Harvey, after the famous invisible rabbit in the Jimmy Stewart movie. That was fine with the ghost.
Randy had been lonely on his car trips as he called on purchasing agents. Now at least he had a kindred soul who understood the business. Harvey not only talked about sales business in general, he also became quite useful due to his incorporeal state. Harvey could zip ahead to check if the person that Randy needed to see was in the office. He could even report what kind of mood the person was in.
Randy knew very early on that having a 'silent partner' like Harvey could pose an ethical dilemma. Harvey could theoretically peek at competitors' quotes, eavesdrop on the business, or seize any other edge to get a sale. But Harvey became a very unusual kind of career mentor.
However, Randy refrained from unethical moves, and felt that he gained a greater sensitivity to customers' needs, and more intuitive about what features might appeal to the client. In fact, there was one clear instance when he gained a sale by not taking advantage of an edge.
The occasion was a call on a very tough client. Randy asked Harvey if the purchasing agent was in, and Harvey reported that he was. Randy added that “Sure hope the SOB is weak and unresisting.” Harvey replied, “The SOB is.”
Harvey was silent the rest of the drive, and said he would wait in the car for him. Randy felt something was wrong and demanded to know what he meant by his cryptic answer. Harvey said that the man was very concerned about some bad news from his doctor, which had hit him hard.
“Why didn't you tell me?” Randy asked. Harvey replied that he was only interested in his edge.
Well, Randy had a moment to think how to talk to this client before going in. He could have pressed hard, after seeing a weakness in his opponent.
However, he went in and just told the 'SOB' a story from his own family that he hoped would help the man cope with his health crisis. He had to figure out a way to tell the story without letting on that he knew about his doctor's report, and much less HOW he knew about it. He just said it was something that popped into his head and wanted to tell about it.
So several weeks passed before Randy called on this 'SOB' again. By this time he no longer thought of him as an SOB but as a real person that he admired for his toughness. This time, when Randy walked in, the client had an order all filled out for him.
The client said that all the other salespeople had sensed he was down that day and tried to give him a hard sell. He felt that they were kicking him when he was down. But Randy was the only one who did not. He had thought that Randy was a 'cool customer' who did not much care about other people, and he did not like to do business with such types.
The upshot was that these two gentlemen who had been on opposite sides of a competitive situation became personal friends. Randy realized that not pressing for a sale or using an unethical edge could improve the quality of his business relationships.
Harvey came into Randy's life after a friend had taken him to a local church that included spirit messages (channeling) as part of the service. He talked about the service with some other friends later, and got to talking about ghost stories. The popular one about the ghost girl who hitches a ride and then vanishes was tossed around.
Later Randy got to thinking that actually, having a traveling companion might not be a bad idea. He'd have someone to talk to on his long drives. And wouldn't you know it, Harvey appeared once Randy had incubated that idea long enough.
And Harvey, whose real name in his earthly life remains unknown, goes on helping young salespeople get the hang of the sales biz.