Character Study: Salesclerk Who Didn’t Like to Sell

Frances liked her working conditions, but she did not like the details of the definite job for which she was hired. She was hired to be a salesclerk. But the minute she came behind her counter in the morning she busied herself folding, straightening and neatly arranging the stock she was supposed to sell.

If an early customer came to the counter Frances hated to leave the stock. She talked to the first customer with a frosty voice that usually lost the sale. Whenever a customer disarranged her stock–and almost each customer did–Frances would neglect the next customer until the stock had all been neatly arranged once again, even though another customer might be waiting impatiently.

She was pleasant and agreeable, but it it was a forced agreeableness. She found it difficult to be naturally pleasant to a customer who was disarranging all of her carefully arranged stock. She kept becoming more and more irritable, and at times tried to keep customers from handling the stock.

Now here was a dominant personality trait which we might call neatness or orderliness. A trait which is generally desirable, but which was so marked in Frances that it interfered with her sales, which were below average for her department.

From Personality Health (1930), Personal Analysis Bureau, Chicago.

Can you think of a way to use such a character in a novel? Come up with at least five story scenarios for Frances–romance, comedy, drama, fantasy, mystery. Will the story end happily for Frances or only in frustration?

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