Ap Language Essay

1999 Words8 Pages
“The Traveling Bra Salesman’s Lesson” --Claudia O’Keefe Claudia O’Keefe (b. 1958) lives in Frankford West Virginia, and is the author of several novels and short stories, primarily science fiction. The following essay won first prize from among nearly twenty-five hundred entries in a competition sponsored by the Economist and the Shell Oil Company on the topic “Import workers or export jobs?” It’s a little after 10 a.m. at a 20-vehicle flea market in rural West Virginia. I’m getting worried. I haven’t sold enough merchandise to pay for my $7 space fee and I didn’t have any money to bring with me, not even to make change. I reach into a carton of vintage clothing to mark down my prices. My fingers grasp something silky and slippery, a lacy slip Elizabeth Taylor could have worn in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Instead of the thin, cheesy polyester and shoddy workmanship I’m used to seeing in contemporary lingerie from the same manufacturer, the older slip features quality fabric and lace that is not only sewn on straight, but will survive a hundred washings and remain looking near new. This isn’t what I notice first, however. It’s the original price tag from 1966. I’m amazed because 38 years later I can still decipher the sales codes printed on it, codes which were on thousands of tags exactly like it and part of my first paying job, given to me when I was eight-years-old. My stepfather was a salesman during the 1960s, traveling California and the American southwest in his big, hulking Buick, selling bras, slips, and girdles to small department stores and five-and-dimes. Whenever he returned from one of his two-week trips, he brought several lunch sacks full of torn price tags with him, evidence of product sold. My job was to sort and count the tags, at a nickel for every hundred I recorded. We lived in a three-bedroom home in an upscale Los
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