Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mary & Bill

How did this old perfume bottle...

lead me to this man's life story?

The cologne called Nite Club was created by Mary King for the JR Watkins Company. That much I got directly from the printing on the bottle. When I researched JR Watkins, there wasn't any information on Mary or the perfume, But I learned about one of their wonderful employees, a salesman named Bill Porter.

Bill was born with cerebral palsy, so selling products door-to-door was difficult for him in many ways. Walking was not easy for him, and he had problems with chronic pain, yet he walked about eight to ten miles a day regardless of the weather.

Each time Bill went out to sell he would encounter people who were afraid of him or people who made fun of him. Sometimes he'd meet a truly cruel person. He ignored these people, smiling and moving on. (How many of us would be able to do that?) Bill worked on connecting with good people, making new friends, and visiting his regular customers when he felt it was time for them to buy. Bill's customers had to fill out their own order forms, since he had trouble holding a pen. Sometimes Bill had was late paying his rent and would have to stay out, working longer hours. He went through many tough times, but he never gave up. Bill was determined to pay his way, and always managed to do so. He has worked for nearly 50 years for the Watkins company.

At age 75, Bill no longer works door-to-door, but he still works, taking online orders for Watkins here.

A movie was made about Bill's life starring William H. Macy, Kyra Sedgwick and Helen Mirren. Macy met with Bill, toured his old sales routes in Portland, Oregon, and spoke with several of Bill's customers who had known him for over 20 years.

"Bill Porter has such goodwill toward humanity, such good cheer constantly." Macy said. "The other thing I love about Bill is his attitude towards his cerebral palsy. It is so stoical. That's the hand he was dealt. When I talked to him, he always said his point of view is that it's his job to make the best out of what he's got. But that guy can sell. He could sell ice to Eskimos. He's an excellent salesman, and I hope that's the other thing that comes out of this story. He was a very skillful man. He never gave up. He's still selling."