Roma sees Lingk outside, walking toward the office. When Lingk walks in, Roma pretends to be deep in conversation with Levene, a "client" who he refers to by the false name "D. Ray Morton." Lingk tells Roma that he needs to talk to him. Roma politely steamrolls over Lingk's attempt at getting his attention, improvising chatter about "Mr. Morton's" important work for American Express. Occasionally Roma asks Levene questions about his work, and Levene struggles to come up with realistic-sounding answers. Roma is able to smooth over Levene's stumbles and make the performance convincing. Lingk cannot get a word in edgewise.
Roma pretends to remember that he needs to rush "Mr. Morton" to the airport. He apologizes to Lingk, telling him that he will get in touch with him soon, and starts to leave with Levene. Roma is almost out the door when Lingk blurts out that his wife has insisted that he cancel the deal that they signed the night before. Roma says that he understands Lingk's wife's reaction, that it is a sensible one, and that they will discuss it when Roma is available next, on Monday. Lingk says that Monday is too late, as his wife has called the Attorney General's office and has been informed that the law allows only three business days in which to cancel the sale. Roma tries to trick Lingk into thinking that Monday is within that three-day timeframe, but Lingk knows that it is not. Roma tells Lingk that there is nothing to worry about because he knows for a fact that his check has not been cashed yet.
Baylen finishes interrogating Aaronow. Baylen calls for Levene, and Levene, still pretending to be "D. Ray Morton," ignores him. The scene becomes chaotic as Aaronow emerges from his interview, complaining about Baylen, and Williamson comes out, also trying to get Levene's attention. Levene decides to rush quickly into the office with Baylen, hoping to hide the fact that he is Levene and not "Morton."
Aaronow vents his frustrations about the interrogation. Williamson, angry, commands Aaronow to go to lunch. Roma apologizes to Lingk for all of the chaos he has just witnessed. Baylen puts his head out of Williamson's office again and tries to call in Roma. Lingk, nervous, starts to leave. Roma tries to calm him down, assuring Lingk that whatever the problem is, they can work it out. Roma tells Lingk that the deal is not what is important here, and starts into a philosophical speech about marriage.
Baylen demands to talk to Roma again. Roma tells Williamson to explain to Baylen that he is in the middle of conducting business with Mr. Lingk. Williamson hears Lingk's name and assumes that Lingk, upset by the obvious disarray of the office, fears for the safety of his contract. Trying to help, Williamson reassures Lingk that his contract went out to the bank and his check was cashed yesterday—exactly what Roma has been trying to tell him did not happen. Lingk, flustered, apologizes to Roma and exits.
This part of Act Two, in which Lingk shows up at the office and Roma improvises an elaborate con to distract him, is the most outrageous example of a scam in the play. Although the salesmen are not necessarily criminals—technically there is nothing illegal about convincing people to buy worthless property at inflated prices—they do rely on dishonest manipulation as a cornerstone of their work. For Roma to pretend that Levene is "D. Ray Morton," an important businessman who needs to be rushed to the airport immediately, clearly exceeds the scope of fair salesmanship, and enters the realm of outright, egregious lying. Roma's attempt to confuse Lingk about how many days he has, legally, to reverse his decision, is hilarious for its obvious sneakiness.
Roma knows that Lingk will try to cancel the sale from the moment he sees him approaching the building. Roma does everything he can to avoid talking to Lingk, because he has already gotten what he wants from him—a signature on a contract&mdashand now anything Lingk has to say can only be harmful. Roma is amazingly adept at improvising his story about "D. Ray Morton". Levene does not share Roma's speed or agility at lying, and stumbles whenever Roma gives him a chance to perform as "Morton." This contrast between Roma's and Levene's improvisational skills marks another clear demonstration of Roma's superiority as a salesman.
Lingk is not a stupid man—he seems to be wise to most of Roma's tricks—but he is very weak. He wants to please Roma, and would very likely choose to fall victim to Roma's trick here, were it not for his desire to please his wife, who has sent him on this errand. The tension of the situation is nearly overpowering for Lingk; he acts as if he is on the verge of tears, stuck in the dilemma of disappointing either Roma or his wife.
Roma understands Lingk's psychology, and knows that this sale—and therefore his own new Cadillac—depend on Lingk choosing to listen to Roma rather than Mrs. Lingk. This is an extremely delicate and tense situation, as Mamet makes us wonder if Roma, the master salesman, can succeed in this scam. The tension rises as, simultaneously, Baylen starts yelling for Levene—who, as "Morton," pretends not to hear—and Aaronow emerges angrily from interrogation. The multiple voices and motivations give the office a circus-like atmosphere.
Still, it seems that Roma might manage to salvage his sale. When Lingk tells Roma that his wife has insisted he call the Attorney General if he cannot cancel the deal, Roma brushes it off: "No, no. That's just something she 'said.' We don't have to do that." We have seen characters make "saying" and "talking" go from meaningful to meaningless, and vice versa, several times in the play, so it seems that Roma has a good chance of making Lingk think his wife's words are unimportant. Roma's subsequent speech—about certain things that married couples must do together and other things that one must decide individually—represents an attempt to empower Lingk as he did the previous day.
By including this very obvious example of a scam in the play, Mamet emphasizes the fact that all the characters are trying to scam each other at all times. The Lingk encounter provides a microcosm of how the entire sales industry—and arguably all American business—works.
Though the notes say that "Early in this scene, Roma tells Baylen that he had heard about the robbery from Moss, and Baylen wondered how Moss knew.", when Baylen asks, Roma cites the board on the window and never mentions Moss.
1 out of 2 people found this helpful