LEVENE: April, September 1981. It's me. It isn't f***ing Moss. (1.1.59-60)
The competition is so brutal between these guys that Levene resorts to numbers from years before to show that he has what it takes to beat Moss. The competition for them is not just about the current sales contest—it's about their whole careers.
LEVENE: I don't get on the board the thirtieth, they're going to can my ass. (1.1.83-84)
That about it sums it up: If you don't get past the others, you get fired. That's a pretty solid foundation for competition, right. This need to be on top leads these guys to make some pretty questionable decisions, particularly Levene. Did he really think that was going to turn things around by robbing his own company?
LEVENE: I NEED A SHOT. (1.1.67)
You ever see an old banged-up quarterback limping out onto the field? Even when they can't do it physically or mentally anymore, they still can't give up that desire to compete, and they still believe they're the best man for the job. That's kind of where Levene is right now. He remembers how great he once was, but he's not quite willing to admit that he just doesn't have it anymore.
AARONOW: I had to […] To get on the… (1.2.16-18)
Poor Aaronow had to take a nothing lead to try to get on the board, and went out and tried to sell to people he knew would never buy. That's how desperate the competition has made him. Still, he's not willing to take the steps that some of the others are willing to take to win. Does this make him weak, or does this make him the last guy with any sense of humanity left in the office?
ROMA: Don't f*** with me, fella. I'm talking about a f***in' Cadillac car that you owe me. (2.1.22-23)
Quick note: Roma says this to a cop. Yep, a cop. Do not get in the way of slick Rick when he has won.
ROMA: Lingk puts me over the top. (2.1.63)
People are nothing more than sales to Roma, and sales are just a means to beating everyone around him. Keep that in mind when Lingk comes back. Roma will do whatever he can to make a sale, including trying to talk a man out of doing what that man thinks is best for him and his wife.
AARONOW: I'm fine. You mean on the board? You mean on the board…?
There's a second there when Aaronow thinks he and Roma are talking about life, but he quickly realizes that they're just talking about the competition that dominates their lives. There are very few moments in this play that don't link directly back to the job, the competition, and the sale. This means that the relationship between these men is one based on proximity instead of on actual feelings of compassion or friendship toward each other.
ROMA: I find out whose f***ing cousin you are, I'm going to go to him and figure out a way to have your ass… (2.1.237-238)
Here we can see that Williamson is part of the competition. Roma is battling him for power and the real top spot in the office. If Roma has the power to get rid of Williamson, then is Williamson really running the show?
LEVENE: Who wants to go to lunch? I'm buying. (2.1.249-250)
Who doesn't love free lunch? Levene's offer isn't just him being nice, though. He's made a big time sale, and he needs to show these other boys who's back and ready to compete.
MOSS: Hey, I don't want to hear your f***ing war stories. (2.1.320-321)
No one wants to listen to the fact that they just got dropped in the rankings, and they're going to have to go out and compete even more now in order to stay alive (you know, from a business sense. These guys aren't going to kill each other or anything… yet.)