Bob had worked in sales for years. He and his three co-workers had kept the organization going, kept it moving. They were the ones who enabled the company to reach its goals, each and every time. The city was divided into four sections and together the four of them covered it all, out on the road, always working together. Sometimes they might rotate, to keep things fresh, but like pallbearers they relied on the others to each shoulder their share of the load.

They were all well rounded people, and Bob shared many interests and activities with his partners. Golf, bowling, bridge. One was rarely seen without the company of the other three, and sometimes people suggested that the four of them were interchangeable. Little did these outsiders know that once or twice a year the four of them and their wives would get together on a Saturday afternoon and swap partners.

Over time Bob started to notice some wear and tear. Years of being out in the sun had caused his skin to lose it’s elasticity. His hair, once a source of pride, was now thin and he was close to being bald in some spots. Sometimes he found it difficult to get a grip when conditions got tough, and his body found it very hard to get moving on cold winter mornings.

For a long time Bob’s doctor had warned him about his blood pressure. As a result of the economic downturn, money was scarce and the owner of the company tried to get as much mileage as he could from everyone, including his aging sales department. Bob and his partners were driven hard, well beyond what is safe and recommended. The pressure was too much, and Bob suffered a stroke.

For a while Bob tried to keep up, but it was difficult. He could still communicate but often his favorite jokes fell flat.

It didn’t take long for the owner of the company to notice and to slow down in order to get things under control. The first thing he did was to let Bob go. Then he let Bob’s partners go too, and brought in a group of shiny, fresh, young salesmen to replace them. After all those years of faithful service, Bob and his partners were put out to pasture.

Bob’s condition continued to deteriorate and he was no longer able to keep up with the other three. The other three kept themselves busy by hanging around in playgrounds with children, by working around the garden, or by going to football games and track and field events to support the athletes, but Bob wasn’t able to do any of that. Instead Bob went off to an assisted living situation, and spent his last days watching seagulls search for food as other unwanted items piled up around him. The last any of his friends saw of Bob he was reading through a Michelin travel guide and dreaming of all the places that he had never had the chance to experience.

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