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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Butler

Andrew and the Safari Rangers: A Solar Panel Christmas



Thrrr-ip. Thrrr-ip. Thrrr-ip.


Such were the sounds of the boots belonging to a door-to-door solar panel salesman as he trudged through the snow on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve in the British countryside.


He had just one more door on which to knock before he could call it a day. At home, his wife was preparing a wonderful meal, the likes of which would make the finest kings jealous. He could hardly wait to celebrate the holiday with his wife and kids.


But first, he had to make a sale.


The final house on the salesman’s route was far into the countryside, and his only mode of transportation was his own two feet. Black dress shoes were not made for snow, as he learned the hard way that day. And the light coat over his business suit wasn’t doing much good to protect him from the cold. He wondered what he would look like upon arrival at the house. Was his tie still in good condition, or had the elements done a number on it?


The snow continued piling up with each step the salesman took. It must have accumulated to more than half a meter in total. But on the besuited salesman marched, the wind blowing in his face all the while. Was he still going the right direction? He pulled a map out of his pocket and studied it. It was anyone’s guess.


His boss had told him that the house was quite the estate. But there were no houses, no estates in view anywhere. On he trudged through the countryside.


Then, a single light ahead. He prayed that this was the estate. Closer, closer. Then, he frowned. The estate had seen better days. In fact, it wasn’t the most inviting place. But he didn’t care. He just wanted some warmth.


Toward the front door he proceeded. Then, he reached his knuckles close to the door. But just before he could knock, the door opened.


“Welcome!” three young men, all wearing safari hats, sang.


“Hello, boys, and a merry Christmas Eve to you. I can’t stay long, though I have but one question for you: Have you considered going solar here in the British countryside?”


“I’m glad you asked,” one of the safari guys said, “We are quite the solar panel enthusiasts. At the same time, we have yet to install solar panels at this estate! How happy it is that you would come to our door this Christmas Eve. Would that we show you exactly where we envision our solar panels going.”


“Oh,” the salesman said, “but perhaps I could step inside for just a few minutes to show you our catalog first.”


But the trio had already stepped outside onto the front yard.


“If you look just to the left of that grand statue on the roof, I believe that would be quite the fine place for the solar panels,” one of the safari guys said.


“Nay,” another countered, “I propose the panels go just adjacent to the rooftop pool.”


“You have it all wrong,” the third interjected. “They should go toward the back of the house so they stay out of view of the passersby, thus preserving the aesthetic qualities of our grand estate.”


“Well, you know, gentlemen,” the salesman said, as he rushed to meet them in the yard, “there’s a lot of science that goes into the placement. Some spots may be more effective at generating energy than others.” He shivered. “Why don’t we go inside and we can hash it out.” He turned toward the tallest of the three. “Perhaps you could show us the way. Sorry, I didn’t get your name.”


The trio gasped.


“You mean –– say it ain’t so –– you mean to tell us you don’t recognize us?” they said in unison.


“My apologies –– for what should I recognize you? Have I been to this estate before?”

“Nay,” the tallest answered. “The name’s Andrew. And my friends here are named S2 and S3. We’re the members of the world-famous rock band Andrew and the Safari Rangers.”


The salesman again shivered in the bitter cold.


“Now we understand why you so desperately wanted to go inside,” S2 said.


“Yeah, we didn’t know you were ignorant of our music,” S3 said. “How deprived you are! How I pity you! We must get you inside immediately so we can share with you our music!”


“Well, boys, I didn’t ––”


But before he could object, a sleigh drawn by reindeer appeared from thin air. The Safari Rangers lifted the salesman into the air, into the sleigh, and together the four of them flew together in the sleigh to the front door.


At the front door was a man in overalls and a baseball cap, holding a paintbrush.


“This is an emergency!” Andrew said to the paintbrush-holding man. “Please open the door for us at once!”


The salesman’s mouth stood agape. “Where did this paintbrush-holding man come from? Here before he was not!”


The paintbrush-holding man opened the door, and the Safari Rangers lifted the salesman through the threshold, then to a sitting room.


“We shall place you in the finest chair!” Andrew said.


Into the chair he was placed.


The Safari Rangers scrambled to pull a vinyl record off the shelf and insert it into the record player in the corner of the room. Then they each took a seat on a sofa directly across from the salesman, a coffee table between them.


“Boys, what on earth is going on here?”


“We’re very surprised that you have not heard of us and our amazing music,” Andrew said.

“Yes, we can only imagine what it’s like to go through life not having heard it,” S2 said.


“Let’s forget about any of this solar panel business for right now,” S3 added. “Make no mistake, we very much look forward to discussing our intended solar panel purchase. But you must take some time to listen to the music. For your sanity!”


They sat listening for an hour or so, the Safari Rangers providing commentary all the while on how they wrote the songs, where their inspiration came from, and all the behind the scenes details anyone would want to know.


“Yes, yes, I must say, boys, your music is quite excellent!” the salesman said.


After the album finished playing, it was time to get back to business.


“Now, boys, now that I’ve had my fill of music, why don’t we get back to our solar panel talk.”


“Nonsense!” Andrew said. “That was only side one.” He flipped the record over. “Get ready for side two!”


Are these people crazy? the salesman thought.


They listened for another hour. Then, the salesman opened his mouth to return to the solar panel discussion. But before he could say a word, Andrew spoke.


“I feel so sorry for you and your deprivation of our music for so long. I believe the least we could do would be to invite you to our Christmas dinner tomorrow in town. We have reservations at the finest restaurant!”


“Oh well, I’m not sure ––”


“Oh, don’t be so bashful,” S2 said.


“You will join us!” S3 exhorted.


“Oh well, alright,” the salesman conceded.


“Hip-hip-hooray!” the bandmates exclaimed.


“Yes, yes, I very much look forward to it. And with that, boys, I’m afraid I must be going. I look forward to our dinner tomorrow. It will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Christmas and to further discuss those solar panels.” He stood up. “Well, so long until tomorrow. I’ll just head out the way I came.”


“Sorry, but I’m afraid you can’t go right now,” Andrew said. “You see, our front door is being painted. We cannot have you interrupting that process. You’ll have to stay the night.”


The salesman turned to see a bed, perfectly made, that was not there the moment before. Something was weird about this house. Something very weird.


“Won’t you stay here for the night?” the Safari Rangers said in unison.


If the salesman had any doubts before, he was now convinced. These people were insane. And they had no intention of buying solar panels.


“You people are crazy! I’m outta here!”


The salesman lifted open the sitting room’s front window, jumped into the snow, and ran away.


“Truly a troubled man,” S3 said.


“I pray that he finds his way home on this snowy evening,” S2 added.


“He’ll be okay,” Andrew said. “Now, why don’t we go ahead and purchase those solar panels online. What was the salesman’s name again? I want to make sure he gets credit for the sale.”


“I don’t know,” S2 said. “I don’t believe he ever gave it.”


“Rookie mistake,” S3 sneered.


“We’ll have to ask him during dinner tomorrow,” Andrew decided.


Just then, the clock struck midnight. The Safari Rangers lifted their glasses of eggnog.


“Till then, merry Christmas, boys!”

 

Andrew Butler is a songwriter and the author of the Andrew and the Safari Rangers book series.

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