Wednesday, April 11, 2007

door to door

Have you ever sold stuff door to door? I haven't. The closest I've come is cold-calling for newspaper subscriptions, something I did very briefly when I was just out of college and my job didn't pay well enough.

I was terrible at it. I agreed with the people who hung up on me, the people who listened politely and said no. I hated to do it. In fact, I was supposed to cold-call in my day job and it was always the last thing on my to-do list, the thing I "forgot" to do all week long, the thing I most hated.

I'm an introvert, after all.

But the door-to-door kids are something else. They have their spiel, and they seem to do it reasonably well. The last one I listened to had a great line: you don't need these books or magazines, he told me, so my dad has arranged for the children's hospital to get them instead of you. You're making a charitable donation and helping me get to college (or Disneyland, or whatever it was). He was so persuasive, I told him to come back if he didn't make his quota. He did, I guess-- I haven't seen him again.

Tonight a young woman knocked on the door. I was making dinner, and Nick came to get me. He'd peeked through the door curtains and seen her-- it's one of those kids selling magazines, he told me. I opened the door and, before she could start her spiel, told her I was making dinner. Maybe you could come back later? I said as I closed the door.

Will she? I don't know. I do know that I feel bad when I tell these kids--all of them are black in my neighborhood, and most of my neighborhood is not--that I can't afford their products. I can, of course. I choose not to. I choose to get my magazine subscriptions more cheaply, more directly. I choose not to help them with whatever it is they think they're getting.

I've read some horror stories lately about the door-to-door kids. Should I invite them in, ask me to tell them their real story? I don't. I close the door and go back to dinner prep. But I worry.

4 comments:

kate said...

I did Girl Scout cookies, and I didn't like it at all. I also had a temporary job once accosting customers to sign up for a dept. store credit card as they walked in the door of the new department store in the mall. That one wasn't so bad-- I figured if they came into the stor of heir own volition, they were fair game. But I hate door-to-door salespeople-- I'm always too nice and as they talk on and on in gets harder to extricate oneself.

Back in the States once there was a door-to-door salesman selling cleaning products-- he was black (my neighborhood was mostly white) and when I opened the door he joked, "Oh no, a black man at your door!" or something like that. As if by preying on any liberal white guilt I might feel somehow obligated to buy something to "prove" I wasn't prejudiced. Didn't work (but it did piss me off...) And actually some of the kids' spiels I have seen seem very intrusive and manipulative (I'm talking about kids/teens selling for fundraising, not companies like what that article described. I had no idea that was going on...)

Heather said...

Um, once my sister and I made Easter baskets and tried to sell them door-to-door... and to a Jewish family by accident. (not that the Easter bunny is terribly Christian, but still...)

Claudia said...

I had to sell Girl Scout cookies once upon a time but hated it! I'm a hopeless introvert and frankly, I have a real problem with using children to sell things. Particularly nowadays. The fundraising shpiels at school are bad enough. I'm really glad I live in a rural area now where these door-to-door things (esp J. Witnesses) do not happen.

darcy said...

So I have done magazines door to door and auto coupons door to door. It is pretty much just a life for lost souls. high school drop outs...kids that have been kicked out.... or people who just like to travel. I was kicked out and the job promised me a place to stay. I learned that nobody wants magazines...but it was always easy to find at least 3 people to help you. in a way, they do....not to get you into college or win a trip to paris... but it helped me to survive. I did door to door for 2 years and now im back on my feet. if you have a bad vibe don't let them in....but usually its just a kid like me who is trying to earn there bed for a night. Next time they ring the bell and you cooking and you dont want to get scamed(not that they are all scams)... just step outside breifly...say god luck i can't help you and smile. It helps sometimes just to be nice.