一双袜子 A Pair of Socks


One fine afternoon I was walking along Fifth Avenue, when I remembered that it was necessary to buy a pair of socks. I turned into the first sock shop that caught my eye, and a boy clerk who could not have been more than seventeen years old came forward. “What can I do for you, sir?” “I wish to buy a pair of socks.” His eyes glowed. There was a note of passion in his voice. “Did you know that you had come into the finest place in the world to buy socks?” I had not been aware of that, as my entrance had been accidental. “Come with me,” said the boy, ecstatically. I followed him to the rear of the shop, and he began to haul down from the shelves box after box, displaying their contents for my delectation.

“Hold on, lad, I am going to buy only one pair!” “I know that,” said he, “but I want you to see how marvelously beautiful these are. Aren’t they wonderful?” There was on his face an expression of solemn and holy rapture, as if he were revealing to me the mysteries of his religion. I became far more interested in him than in the socks. I looked at him in amazement. “My friend,” said I, “if you can keep this up, if this is not merely the enthusiasm that comes from novelty, from having a new job, if you can keep up this zeal and excitement day after day, in ten years you will own every sock in the United States.”

My amazement at his pride and joy in salesmanship will be easily understood by all who read this article. In many shops the customer has to wait for someone to wait upon him. And when finally some clerk does deign to notice you, you are made to feel as if you were interrupting him. Either he is absorbed in profound thought in which he hates to be disturbed or he is skylarking with a girl clerk and you feel like apologizing for thrusting yourself into such intimacy.

He displays no interest either in you or in the goods he is paid to sell. Yet possibly that very clerk who is now so apathetic began his career with hope and enthusiasm. The daily grind was too much for him; the novelty wore off; his only pleasures were found outside of working hours. He became a mechanical, not inspired, salesman. After being mechanical, he became incompetent; then he saw younger clerks who had more zest in their work, promoted over him. He became sour. That was the last stage. His usefulness was over.

I have observed this melancholy decline in the lives of so many men in so many occupations that I have come to the conclusion that the surest road to failure is to do things mechanically. There are many teachers in schools and colleges who seem duller than the dullest of their pupils; they go through the motions of teaching, but they are as impersonal as a telephone.

  一个晴朗的下午,我沿第五大街而行,忽然想起需要买双袜子。我拐进看到的第一家袜店,一个不到17岁的少年售货员迎上来:“先生,我能为您效劳吗?” “我想买双短袜。” 他双眸满是热情,声音饱含激情:“您知道您来到了世界上最好的袜店吗?”我倒并未意识到这点,我不过是随便进来的。 “随我来,”男孩欣喜若狂地说。我跟着他往里走。他开始从货架上拽下一个又一个盒子,向我展示里面的袜子,让我欣赏。

“停一停,孩子,我只买一双!”“我知道,”他说,“但我想让您瞧瞧这些袜子是多么漂亮、令人赞叹!难道它们不棒吗!”他的脸色庄严而虔诚,就像是在向我透露他的信仰中的奥秘似的。我对他远远超过了对袜子的兴趣。我吃惊地打量着他。“我的朋友,” 我说,“如果你能这样保持下去,如果这热情并不仅仅缘于新奇,缘于找到份新工作,如果你能日复一日地保持这种热心和激情,不出十年,全美的每一双袜子都将是从你手中卖出去的。”




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