George Goner, The Haunted Cabaret
I've never had respect for door-to-door salespeople. You know: those pesky critters who knock on your front door just as soon as you start preparing dinner, or sit down to watch Wheel of Fortune, or head for the john to take a dump. Maybe you've just gotten home from an aggravating day at work. You're ready to relax. But here's Joe or Harry or Wanda, with their vacuum cleaners, irons, and the latest bundled telephone and internet offers. The door-to-door salesperson is a survivor, from the days of fins on automobiles, Heartbreak Hotel, and two-parent families sitting down together for meals at the dinner table.
I joined this nearly-extinct breed for three hectic and eye-opening weeks. Last month, I swore I'd take the first job opening that presented itself, and guess what? In this day and age it's hard to imagine someone still seeing the need for a guy or a woman to trudge from house to house, ringing doorbells and knocking on locked doors bolted against the night. But there I was, knocking. I couldn't get Willie Loman and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman out of my head. After knocking 120 hostile doors my first day, I couldn't blame the poor guy for crashing his car at the end of the play.
You park your car in a designated neighborhood, take your samples and sales materials, and start walking. You walk for miles, the goal is between 100-120 houses per night. A few years ago I tore some cartilage in my left knee, leaving me with a slight limp. Determined to meet my sales quota, I limped up and down the empty streets of city and suburbia, wondering if I looked more like one of George Romero's Zombies, or the star of a 1940s mummy movie, shambling after cursed archeologists.
Did I sell anything? Well, yes, I did. Two of the sales were even to people I didn't know. However, just as I was about to write Goner's Guide to Innovative Sales Technique, another job became available that offered a regular salary instead of straight commission, and I bid goodbye to the door-to-door life. I surprised myself by feeling a touch of regret; not because I loved the job, but because-- well, I really don't know. Maybe it's got something to do with Cowboys, Astronauts, and Carnival Barkers. In other words, for three weeks, I existed as a piece of genuine, if nearly extinct, Americana.
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