Sunday, December 31, 2006

Door-to-door

I hate malls. With a passion. I suppose that makes me un-girly or possibly inefficient, but I have never liked shopping unless it had something to do with books, tools, or office supplies. Clothes? No way. Not only do the dressing rooms make you look like a bloated corpse trying on your final outfit, but the racks are too close together and too tightly packed to make looking anything less than a day-long chore. I've got better things to do.

Of course, these days there's always the internet. You can buy almost anything over the internet. We don't have grocery service through the internet here, but I don't really mind that kind of shopping. My mother-in-law and my mother both did most of their Christmas shopping that way. I will occasionally buy something that way myself, but to be honest, I really am not much in to shopping period.

In the days of yore (or at least 40-50 years ago) there was such a thing as a door-to-door salesman. He brought his wares DIRECTLY to your house for you to peruse, use, and buy without ever leaving your home. I'm not talking about Amway or Avon or nutritional supplements... I'm talking about real products that people used everyday. Brooms. Brushes. Pots and pans. Sewing notions. You name it, and it came to your door.

My father is a rather loud and blustery person. Always has been. My mother is and was a quiet but strong southern lady. She was working as a secretary/receptionist for the gym at the university. My father was a student, who came barreling in having lost a raincoat. He demanded that my mother hand it over as it must have been turned into the lost and found. My mom looked, but didn't see it, and as politely as she could, explained to the barbarian that the coat was not there. He ranted and raved a bit, then stormed out. He didn't particularly notice the blue-eyed brunette that he'd been yelling at, but she made careful note of him.

A bit of time passed, and Mom's family was having some sort of get-together when a hopeful young man rang her doorbell. She looked out the window and recognized the barbarian, holding his case of brushes and running his fingers through his hair. She swung the door wide and with a smile on her face, invited him in. He was introduced to every family member there, my mother smiling at his side the entire time. Being my mother, she probably offered him a glass of tea and a plate of food as well, but those details have been lost in the telling. He was fairly chuffed at the prospect of huge sale once he got the chance to make his presentation. He never got the chance. After the visitin' was completed, he was ushered to the door and politely shoved through it. My mother's last glimpse of my father was of a very confused young man standing on the porch steps wondering what the hell had just happened.

Most door-to-door activity stopped when people became more suburban. They moved far away from town and each other, making door-to-door a less rewarding enterprise. And much more dangerous. But it hasn't gone away totally.

When I lived in Wakulla, far from city lights and a good distance from my neighbors as well, the determined door-to-door folks would somehow find themselves in my driveway. Guys with southern accents, pickup trucks and freezers of meat to sell in package deals. Vans full of young people selling vacuum cleaners. Even the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses found their way to my corner of the woods.

Now I live in town. People drop by all the time. So it wasn't unusual to hear my husband talking to someone outside, but when I opened the door, there was a vision in baggy blue jeans, white button-down shirt and a Scooby Doo tie talking earnestly in my driveway. My husband spotted me and waved me over.

"This is the woman who knows about clean! If you're going to sell this to anyone, it'll be her. I don't know anything about this stuff," my husband proclaimed.

So I listened. And watched. And I have to tell you, Sam worked hard for the money. He cleaned the bottom of our mildewy aluminum boat. He washed the windshield of my car and the wheels too. He demonstrated the Green Apple versatility on the old smoky, dirty couch in the carport by cleaning a couple of spots (I had no idea it was that color!), and extolled it's virtues in many, many ways. He also did a self-depricating shuck and jive that was so totally not necessary (young black man selling to elderly white people for the most part, apparently), that took me aback a bit, but I realized it was part of the act. Of course I bought Green Apple. It smells nice and may be nothing more spectacular than Spic-n-Span, but that guy worked HARD for the sale, and I am a sucker for hard workers. If I had let him, that man would have cleaned my house. So I spent the $37 dollars - for the Green Apple and the show. After all, that's part of what door-to-door is all about.

1 comment:

quinn said...

you know you probably made the mans day ..he probably gets doors shut in his face all day long..and it is after all the holidays...

besides remember the movie ..pay it forward...who knows what he went on to do the rest of the day ..bravo