Another of my favorite burgs is Brighton. It is so happy sounding, as in bright town. My first experience/encounter with Brighton was selling insurance door-to-door.
I had just moved home to Iowa from Colorado and needed a job. I took a job selling accident insurance. This was in 1995.
One of my first assignments was the town of Brighton. On Sunday, before the workweek started, I drove to Brighton to get a feel for the town. I noted the tree-lined streets, neat yards and homes, the location of a cafe and two convenience stores.
I’m a small-town boy, and Brighton looked like my kind of town. A lot of people don’t like small towns because of gossip and everybody knowing everybody’s business. This never bothered me.
Sure, everybody knows everybody’s business, but if something happens, like a death in the family, or somebody out of work with a broken leg, the town pulls together to help out. Brighton looked like this type of town.
On Monday, the first house I walked up to, I had the door slammed in my face. At the second door, I knew people were home because I could hear the television, a dog fussing, and hushed voices (“Sparky be quiet.”), but no one would come to the door.
At the third door, I was told to get off their property. Confused, I retreated to the cafe for some coffee and a little food. I was new at door-to-door sales, maybe I was doing something wrong.
The insurance company I worked for also had renewals to pick up from established clients. In the afternoon, I switched to the renewal mode. I went to the address of an established client and knocked on the door.
This was in August and it was hot. The door was open, but the screen was locked. A woman’s voice from inside told me to go away or she would call the sheriff. I identified myself and stated my business.
An elderly woman shuffled to the door, looked at me through the screen, and started crying. She managed to unlock the screen door and let me in. She apologized for crying and said that she was just so scared. The summer before, a little girl had been abducted in Brighton, and murdered. The murderer was a friend of the family and had actually joined in the search.
Shocked by the story, I sat for a while and let the lady talk. I now understood the difficulty I was having in Brighton. I switched my approach, and decided to work only renewals, and ask for referrals.
The referrals turned out to be friendly, I met some great people, and my week in Brighton turned out good. I learned tons about people and sales.
The drive to Brighton each morning was quite pretty. The blacktop between Lockridge and Brighton is known as the Germanville Road, and there are lots of things to see, like a Catholic grotto, a one-room school turned into an Amish church, and beautiful Iowa countryside.
It was along this road, in a flower-filled yard, that I first saw the sign, “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” This sign has become one of my favorite sayings.
A lady from Brighton recently called to ask if I could fix up some kind of rustic stand to hold her weather vane horse and cow that had come from her family farm. I said that I probably could. Someone in the past had painted the weather vanes flat black, which the lady didn’t like. She liked rustic.
In working on the project, I scraped a little paint off the horse with a knife blade. Low-and-behold, copper! I thought the weather vanes were tin. The lady would be quite pleased. What’s more rustic than copper?
And so symbolic of Brighton: dark exterior, beautiful interior.