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Wednesday, June 06, 2007The competitive world of chips
I have a dream that one day the Frito-Lay guy and the Wise potato chip guy can stand beside each other in front of the UTZ display case in peace and harmony. It’s a vicious competitive world out there in the snack industry. I just never knew how vicious it was.
My uncle’s friend Tony owns a lucrative snack route delivering snack foods. Under normal circumstances all the guys from the different companies get along. After all they are all just working stiffs. That is until recently. There’s a new guy working the snack route and I guess he doesn't believe in giving the customers a choice.
Tony had been getting a lot of returns from store owners, this was a first for him. At first he couldn’t figure out why so much of his merchandise was being returned damaged. Damaged merchandise needless to say cuts into the profits and the reputation of the vendors. Store owners depend on the vendors to deliver the products unharmed and if they can’t the stores switch providers. This means stores get dropped from the route and that amigos effects everyone down the line the route owner, his employees, the warehouse where they get the products and the garage in which they store their trucks. It’s just like a food chain… a snack food chain.
Tony decided to stop in on each and every store of his route unannounced to track down the source of the damaged merchandise. After hitting a few freshly stocked stores and finding his merchandise either damaged or moved from their regular display racks and hidden behind other products he got to the bottom of the mystery. It seemed that one of his competitors was causing the damage. He got to the last store on his route while his competitor was still there and witnessed the guy slicing open several bags of Tony’s merchandise with a box cutter.
At this point I should mention that Tony has anger problems that he’s in therapy for and until that day he’d been doing great. But now someone was messing with his livelihood…uh uh not cool at all…
When he witnessed his competitor purposely damaging his products he lost it…big time. He grabbed a bag of his competitor’s product and stormed out of the store yelling all kind of obscenities.
My uncle tried to calm him down and jumped into Tony’s truck when he took off. At first Tony wanted to ram his truck into his competitor who after seeing Tony ran out of the store and was trying to make it safely back to his truck. Chino managed to talk Tony out of running the guy down but now Tony wanted to ram his truck into his competitor’s truck parked in front. “Tony, Tony, man calm down! Remember your anger management therapy!” my uncle yelled, “Anger management? Oh shit! Yeah you’re right Chino…thanks man!” he said before slamming the brakes on his truck. He then made a U-turn and drove to Home Depot several blocks away.
“I got this Chino. I got this. I’m okay man. I’m okay” Tony said as he made a beeline for the out door tool section and picked up an Estwing Camper’s Axe. My uncle tried to talk him out of whatever he was planning to do with the axe as they stood on line and then as they drove back to the competitors truck which was now parked in front of the warehouse. When they got there Tony jumped out of his truck and ran over to his competitor’s truck with my uncle chasing after him, “Tony what are you going to do with that axe?!"
By this time a crowd of men had gathered. Among them the guy who had been damaging Tony’s merchandise. No one was about to approach Tony with an axe in his hand. “Chino do something with that crazy Italian! I don’t want no trouble up in here!” yelled the warehouse owner towards my uncle. My uncle physically blocked Tony’s path and said, “Yo bro come on man let’s do the counting exercises…let’s do that thing you were telling me about…”
Tony stopped in his tracks axe still in hand and began a series of breathing exercises. Then started counting quickly backwards from 100 and when he was done he said, “Fuck this shit Chino.” and walked over to his truck. He then pulled out the bag of his competitors chips he’d taken from the his display rack at the store. He carefully placed it on the hood of his competitors’ truck stepped back and drove the axe into it pinning the bag of chips onto the hood. He then stepped away and looked at what he’d done, pointed at his competitor and yelled out, “Hey YOU! You son of a bitch… I want to return this bag of chips. It’s damaged!” Chino then put his arm around Tony and led him towards his truck as crowd gathered around to look at the bag of chips cleaved to the hood of the truck. No one dared say anything as Tony drove away counting backwards at the top his lungs.
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