I had an honest-to-god vacuum cleaner door-to-door sales person come to my house.
It all started off with an older man knocking on my door letting me know what was up. He’s the guy who gets the conversation started and someone else is going to come inside to do a presentation and ask me a few questions. The kid, he said, gets paid per presentation and would it be OK to come inside. Weighing my chances of being killed in my own home on a Saturday evening…
Ugh. No, but fine. I’m not in the market for one fucking thing, but sure. If he gets paid just to do a presentation, great. I knew there was a sales pitch attached, but the man explained it had something to do with my dog and vets use this product so whatever. Fine.
Yeah, it’s a vacuum cleaner presentation and guess whose house is disgusting?
Oh, and this kid? The kid was a 20-something man earning his Master’s in Criminology.
He started in with compliments of my home and telling me his name repeatedly; I can’t recall what it was. He then asked if my husband was home. I said I don’t have one of those. He apologized and asked if it was wrong to ask that question, “Yes, it’s wrong to assume someone is married. Don’t apologize; learn to not ask that question.”
He put together the vacuum cleaner, which was a Kirby with dozens of parts, and started to vacuum my couches. Holy shit. This was going to be interesting.
Showing me the first filter covered in dirt, I nodded. He let out the first of a million laughs, which were meant to emphasize to me how well the vacuum works, not to embarass me for how dirty my couches are. I told him I’m not embarrassed—I’m well aware there is a layer of dirt on everything. I live with the doors and windows open as often as possible. My cat and dog are all over nearly every inch of both couches, which are nine years old, every day. I clean regularly, though, yeah, seems I need to clean deeper. I’ll get to it, eventually.
I gave up perfection a long time ago.
As he went on with his way-too-entertaining and entirely too long sales pitch, I tried to tell him he could move on to the next part of this presentation. He explained he has to show his boss a lot of these filters; that’s how he shows he’s done his job. I sat back and let him continue.
I told him I was also in sales (OK, it’s marketing, but close enough). He wasn’t listening. He didn’t know what he was up against. He just kept going. When he vacuumed the wall, I really should have shut it down.
Sure, it was impressive to see how badly I need to set my couches on fire. Yeah, I could have cleaned the fan the other day myself. However, I don’t need a $3K vacuum his boss, who showed up to close, was going to “give” me at half the cost because my parents owned a Kirby my mom told us was “hot” and Dad got it “off the back of a truck” when I was a kid.
That vacuum weighed a million pounds and could suck dirt up from the basement while being used upstairs in the living room; this one sounded like it was made of plastic. Also, and this is key, he never let me use it—never had me feel how light it is or use any of the solutions. He cheerleaded the whole way, but never picked up that I wasn’t really engaged. I sat there laughing, sure, but I just sat, or stood, there. I got myself engaged as needed.
I may not sell directly to anyone, but I’ve been around sales for nearly 18 years. I work with marketers on their campaigns. Sales pitches come across my “desk” every day; I deploy emails to thousands and thousands of people weekly, hoping subject lines will make them open emails and content will engage them enough to ask more questions or buy right there. Sales reps selling stuff pays my bills.
I understand the struggle of the job.
The salesman got much quieter and less theatrical after his boss left, after I said “no” twice, “I agreed to a presentation and answering a few questions. I don’t need a vacuum.” I have a Dyson in the garage I bought for like $300 forever ago using a Bed, Bath & Beyond 20% off coupon.
I helped the guy clean up and gave him a water. I wished him the best and he left. Hopefully they weren’t casing the neighborhood. Thankfully, I own nothing awesome, and everything’s covered in dirt.
I was, however, impressed with the Dingo. She, though excited to have someone new in the house—two actually—sat quietly while the presentation went on and on and on; he had her undivided attention. I wondered why she was being so good.
Then it dawned on me.
She LOVES vacuum cleaners. She would have totally bought it.