One Man Show

From the 1970s to early 2000s, my father worked as a salesman in Turkey, selling components and equipment to the electronics and appliance industries. He would travel from business to business, meeting with customers. Newspapers and industry catalogues were his primary tools for scouting prospective new customers. 

Over time, his accumulation of business cards and clippings reached such a massive number that management of them required a system. At the time, Rolodex did not exist in Turkey, so my father created his own peculiar system. He established 3 categories; Istanbul-based companies were cataloged in alphabetical order, all other Turkish companies by city, and foreign companies by country. To store the business cards he reused old envelopes. For example, all French companies’ business contacts were kept in a single envelope. The Istanbul companies, of which my father has the most since Istanbul is where my father worked, required 22 envelopes. Over a 40-year period, he collected more than 5,000 cards, which he kept in 59 separate envelopes. His system was so particular that only he could really make sense of it. When I asked about how his secretary sorted through the cards to find what she needed, he replied: “She couldn’t. This was my system, I was a one man show”.

My father retired long ago from this business. However, to this day he has kept all his envelopes and cards, even though he understands that they are no longer of any use to him. The mystery of his attachment to this obsolete form of communication, reference, and human connection ­– not to mention his unique archival system– is the source of inspiration for this body of work entitled One Man Show.

 

* One Man Show was published by Extracurricular Press, to purchase the book please click here