Fall is here, and although I’m glad for cooler days and pretty leaves, there’s one aspect of the season I just can’t stand.
I’m referring to door-to-door salespeople.
You may think that door-to-door salespeople have gone the way of the dodo bird. But no. Although I haven’t had a Fuller Brush salesman or someone lugging an entire set of encyclopedias to my doorstep, I have had others. And when I lived in a townhome—also known as the “salesperson’s dream,”—I had many others.
Many, many others.
One of the first door-to-door salespeople (which I will refer to as D2D’s—although this sounds like a new rap group) to come a knockin’ at my door was a woman demonstrating vacuum cleaners. She wanted to come in and pour dirt on my carpet and then vacuum it up. I thought this stuff only happened in the movies.
I turned down her offer because, um, we have enough dirt of our own.
A friend suggested that if this happened again, I should get the person to dump dirt in each of the rooms that I had not yet vacuumed—it would be like getting a partial cleaning service for free.
Yeah, but then I’d be so guilt-ridden that I’d probably buy two of the stupid machines.
Another time a guy in his early 20s came to the door saying he would sing any song from the ‘50s or ‘60s for me, and there was no catch.
In the next breath, he mentioned that he also happened to be selling magazines to put himself through college.
He probably would have done better doing singing telegrams. At least people wouldn’t slam the door in his face while he was in the middle of “Surfin’ USA.”
But the most memorable D2D is one who began her pitch by saying “I’m not the neighborhood lunatic.” (Boy, I’m relieved. Thanks for sharing that.) “I’m here to show you how confident I am with our product,” her product being a container full of blue-colored window cleaner which looked much like the bottle of Windex sitting under my kitchen sink.
With that said, she took the spray bottle, spritzed some blue liquid on her fingers, and then placed her fingers in her mouth.
The banging sound I heard was my jaw hitting the floor.
“Have you ever seen anything like that?” she asked after licking the rest of the cleaner off her fingers.
“I’ve never seen anyone drink glass cleaner,” I replied.
“Well, this is biodegradable,” she quipped.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this woman knew the difference between the words “biodegradable” and “non-toxic.” After all, a paper bag is biodegradable. But I’m sure not going to eat one.
One evening when my husband answered the door, he was out there for a few minutes, and I knew before he returned what had happened. They had sucked him in.
I looked to see what he had purchased. No vacuum. That was a good sign. No window cleaner—even better. But he was chewing.
“What are you eating?” I asked.
“Caramel creams,” he mumbled.
Wow, the kids were now selling caramel creams for school; that sounded good. But when I went to get the bag to have some, I noticed something that my husband hadn’t.
The bag was about one quarter empty and had a small, barely distinguishable piece of tape holding the top of it together.
Evidently, one of the kids had palmed it from his pantry at home or, worse yet, got it as a five-finger discount at a local store.
He and his friends ate some, taped the bag back together, and took my husband to the tune of $5. He had never seen these kids before, and, not surprisingly, never saw them again.
Here’s our new policy: we don’t answer the door. One glance out the peephole, and if we don’t know you, the door stays shut.
No longer do I have to face people who tell me that I’ll go to hell for not joining their church (yes, this did happen). I no longer have to turn down zillions of college kids putting themselves through school (haven’t they heard of “work study”?). And I no longer will look into the sad, doe-like eyes of the 10th child that day who wants to sell me a candy bar.
But I have to admit, I’ve always wondered if that glass cleaner tasted any good.
Michele Wojciechowski, who will not be answering her door so don’t even bother knocking, writes “Wojo’s World™” from Baltimore.