Re: Doorbell to doorbell

1

she said you have to make two sales per day

And it isn't easy because they only books they have are "The Origin of the Species" and a biography of Clarance Darrow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:46 AM
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I'm familiar with the door-to-door magazine salespeople, but selling books door-to-door? Is this targeted at people who have never heard of Amazon?

Or is it just one book in particular that they're selling? The Book of Mormon, perhaps?


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:50 AM
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I just found out my nephew sold security systems door-to-door one summer while he was in college. My brother-in-law (his father) said he was very skeptical, but that it turned out to be a very good thing for him. He learned to handle rejection, and how to make people like him.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:54 AM
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Right, but he could have learned the same thing by selling drugs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:55 AM
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1 made me laugh out loud.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:55 AM
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When I was in college one summer I was so desperate to find some kind of job, that I started to go to a training program to sell encyclopedias door-to-door. After one day, I decided I didn't really need a job that badly.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:57 AM
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4: No, selling drugs is too easy. They practically sell themselves.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:59 AM
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I canvassed for a nuclear freeze group (SANE/Freeze) for a couple of months in college -- get bussed out to a suburban neighborhood, given a clipboard with a list of addresses to go to, and ring bells to give them a spiel and ask them for money. It probably would have been a useful developmental experience along the lines of 3 if I'd put more into it, but mostly I just hated it and felt like I was scamming people. (Which I may have been -- I don't recall knowing anything about the reputability of the group I was canvassing for.)

I did come out of it with a fondness for Dobermans -- I had a scary encounter with one which ended with her licking my hand and following me to the next house so that I'd keep scratching her ears.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:05 AM
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I was so desperate to find some kind of job, that I started to go to a training program to sell encyclopedias door-to-door. After one day, I decided I didn't really need a job that badly

I had an identical experience with a training program for selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. They didn't tell us what the job was before the day of the training, and all day I'm thinking "This job still exists?"


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:06 AM
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I did actually go selling door-to-door once -- that was for PIRG -- not actually selling, but requesting donations. As I recall I did manage to ring on some door bells for one morning and maybe even got one donation -- but by the afternoon I could feel my soul shriveling up, and I just wandered the neighborhood without bothering anyone, and I never went back.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:08 AM
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9: I went to that, but left as soon as I found out what it was. The guy running the training was complaining about how the biscuits at the Big Boy weren't made fresh at the restaurant any more.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:08 AM
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Didn't selling encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners door to door go out sometime in the early 80s? Comments 6 and 9 sound like they come from a time warp.

Do people still order out of the Sears Catalog as well?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:19 AM
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10 was me as well: signed up to go door-to-door for NJ PIRG the summer after my first year of college, by lunchtime I couldn't take it any more and just waited to be picked up at the end of the day. Probably would have done me some good to get over the extreme discomfort of asking people to give me their money, but it was too awful.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:20 AM
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About a quarter of my high school friends did the door-to-door Cutco knife thing. I never heard of any door-to-door sales opportunities other than Cutco.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:21 AM
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8: I canvassed for SANE/Freeze for a while too! I was terrible at it. Eventually someone had to tell me the point was not to go door to door having political arguments. The points was to get people's money.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:23 AM
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12.1: Well, comment 6 was telling about something that happened in the early 80-s. Part of the ongoing series - "peep's tales of long-ago".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:23 AM
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I had a guy try to get me involved in a multi level marketing scheme selling little rape alarms. They looked basically just like pagers except they had a little pin dealy that when removed would set of an ear-piercing screech. Basically rape whistles but much louder and more expensive.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:27 AM
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I do think it was kind of cool that you could order a freaking house out of the Sears Catalog. They don't make catalogs that hardcore anymore.

The only thing I ever sold door to door were magazine subscriptions in middle school. It kind of sucked, but selling books door to door in Tennessee sounds worse.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:28 AM
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I remember my mother patiently listening to a vacuum cleaner (and carpet cleaner too!) salesman running through his spiel before saying she wasn't interested back in the mid '90s, so they lasted a while past the '80s at least.

A friend of mine did the cutco thing during college to raise money, which he didn't seem to mind too much but which always sounded awful. He did have a complete set of knives though which was kind of* useful for cooking during college when relatively few people had a lot of cooking gear.

*But not too useful because, wow, those are some crappy knives.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:28 AM
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When I was growing up, we had a Kirby vacuum.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:31 AM
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The so-bad-it's-good movie, Dead Pet, has a "plotline" about door-to-door knife sales.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:35 AM
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18.1: I actually live in a Sears house.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:40 AM
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Kit houses! They're wonderful.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:42 AM
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Didn't selling encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners door to door go out sometime in the early 80s? Comments 6 and 9 sound like they come from a time warp.

My brief encounter with the world of door-to-door vacuum cleaner sales took place in the early 90s. Not exactly recent, but even then it had a time warp quality to it.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:46 AM
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signed up to go door-to-door for NJ PIRG the summer after my first year of college

PDBS, being posh and deep blue, must be El Dorado for those people, because they show up in our neighborhood all the time. AIMHMHB, I have a well-rehearsed rejection speech that goes, "I will give no support, however small, to any cause, however worthy, that has any connection, however tenuous, to Ralph Nader." Alas, the kids doing the soliciting these days are too young to know who I'm talking about or why I would be so weirdly adamant about it.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:46 AM
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25.penultimate-last--god that would be funny


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:48 AM
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The linked article was so depressing.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:48 AM
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13: Me too! I hated it intensely.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:55 AM
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Salespeople get treated like shit by their management in so many fields.

8k for a summer doesn't seem like that much money, looks like $16/hour. Mowing lawns is a cash thing, couldn't you pull in more doing that? If she's young and is doing crossfit, has she considered a job selling yoga pants or caddying or something where good health and middle-class or better manners would pay off better?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:58 AM
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Now I have Kenny Loggins playing in my head.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:02 AM
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8: LB, we are - inasmuch as a fancy pants lawyer and a provincial admin can be - psychic twins. Because I, too, tried a canvassing job and then quit because I felt that I was scamming people. (I mean, the first few months were a relatively acceptable electioneering thing which didn't involve money, but then it switched.)

I was never very good at it because I could never really believe that it was a legitimate thing to do. I knew that we were often oversimplifying the legislative issues in play, or talking up an issue that the group was working on only as a strategy toward a totally different goal, and I knew that giving money once routed the punter into the "let's call him to see if he'll pony up a hundred dollars" queue, which I hated. It just seemed dishonest and against my values. It's the only job I've ever quit by walking in and saying that I quit and then leaving.

I mean, I too am uncomfortable asking people to give me money for any purpose, but I know from subsequent experience that I can do it without feeling bad about myself if it's for something I really believe in and think that they should contribute to and I can be truly transparent about the project. (I've been part of projects where there has been canvassing that I didn't feel was super appropriate - like, if you're canvassing for a small, highly focused local project that most people will not use and that does not have a clear benefit to society at large....the equivalent of canvassing for a hacker space, let's say.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:18 AM
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The PIRG people make you do it for free for a day before they'll hire you.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:20 AM
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8k for a summer doesn't seem like that much money, looks like $16/hour.

That seems like a lot to me! I picture 3-4K being an ordinary summer haul. She's probably assuming that her daily costs will be lower since she's not home hanging out with friends.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:20 AM
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(That is, we were told upfront that the money we were raising wasn't really important; it was part of a psychic trick to rope people into the big-donation part, which was via phone. Which is why a lot of canvassers won't take cash donations unless you give them your information - I usually offer people five or ten bucks to help them make quota, but not too many take it.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:20 AM
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A friend of mine made a shit-ton of money one summer selling Bibles in Utah.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:23 AM
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And the PIRG people sometimes don't say that it's PIRG if they're raising money for someone else, e.g., the Sierra Club.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:24 AM
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"The Liberal Sweatshop".

FOTB Timothy Burke has more.



Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:36 AM
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17: To tie the threads together, at the start of each school year all the new first-graders in my kids' school were issued with cute little versions of those to attach to their school bags in case anyone tried to abduct them. For the first couple of weeks you could hear when their classes were on the way home by the screeching as they pulled the pins out of each other's alarms, before the batteries mercifully ran down.


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:36 AM
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37: To be fair to the organization that I worked for, they had a union, the hours were always legit, you were paid in a timely manner and turnover was (for this type of work) rather low. Plenty of people worked there for years, and a friend rose in the ranks yea verily unto lobbydom. The atmosphere was good, there was an appropriate amount of training and support - basically, if you were the kind of person who could do that kind of work, it was a good place to be. (I did spend several months as the official van driver for a 25 cents/hour raise....I was always terrified, as those 14 person vans are pretty difficult to wrestle.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:45 AM
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Haha, I, too, lasted one day with PIRG! I guess it makes sense that this experience would be well represented at Unfogged.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:47 AM
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About a quarter of my high school friends did the door-to-door Cutco knife thing.

I tried that, and washed out quickly and, oh gosh was it demoralizing and depressing. Just a horrible experience.

The funny thing is that the knives are actually good, and I still have several of them -- but in a way that just makes me more depressed to think about it. If I had been more of a cook at the time I would have at least had the confidence that I wasn't scamming people (I still would have washed out, but it would have been less painful, I think).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:55 AM
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I highly recommend the Maysles brothers (of sublime Grey Gardens fame) film Salesman about 4 door to door bible salesman. Their nicknames alone should pull you in: "The Bull," "The Gipper," "The Rabbit," and "The Badger." It really gets at the awfulness of it and does it in a very humane manner. And an incredible period piece as well.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:58 AM
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So, is there anyone here that was successful at door-to-door sales/solicitation?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:02 AM
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40: The thought of even trying to do that makes me prickly and queasy, and I suspect others are on the not-even-one-day team.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:03 AM
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41.2

Oh dude no. No they really, really aren't.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:04 AM
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43: not even girl scout cookies.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:06 AM
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Thinking of which, we went door to door back in the day, one on each side of the street; and now they seem to only sell at grocery store doors, in packs, with hovering parents.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:08 AM
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46: I got pushed out of Girl Scouts in part because of being a conscientious objector to cookie sales. I thought it was immoral to sell people overpriced cookies they just bought because you were cute. (Same went for school chocolate fundraiser, where I was the only child in the school who didn't participate.) I'm grateful that my parents supported me because being forced to go through with it would have been awful. And now I run the fucking parent-teacher organization, so the joke's on me!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:11 AM
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42: thanks for the rec, on the list!

We just realized last night during a dinner discussion of the amusingly bad NYT review of the new Dr Z musical that we need to show the kid West Side Story so both of us are attempting to harden up in advance. Won't work of course. Also the sublime"Mi Kado Es Su Kado" joke came up and was as wonderful as ever. Was that Smearcase? Pure brilliance.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:14 AM
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I did street canvassing for a couple summers - one of those annoyingly cheerful youngsters with clipboards who accost you outside Whole Foods. We were mercenaries who switched causes frequently depending on what was hot at the time (the most lucrative was "repeal Prop 8", closely followed by the Obama campaign; the least by far was the ACLU, which it was hard to get people to give a shit about).

It didn't pay that well, and it was grueling to be in the sun/on your feet/on your most extroverted behavior for so long, but overall it was incredibly fun & educational. I loved that success could be judged by a single number, so I could see how I was improving every week. Also, getting rudely ignored 100s of times per day was good practice for shrugging off rejection in other aspects of life. I had a lot of friends in undergrad who I feel would have 20% happier lives if they were forced to do this job for 2 or 3 months.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:15 AM
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WTF Thorn, Girl Scout cookies are the ONLY thing people buy via solicitation because they actually want them and can't find them anywhere else.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:15 AM
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That said, the operation was a huge scam with little social benefit. Don't donate money to street canvassers unless you're OK with 60% of your money going to overhead (ie the canvasser you're talking to, and the canvasser's bosses). My moral justification at the time was that the people who were donating serious money were mostly ultra-rich West LA housewives/retirees who would be unlikely to devote their money to a more socially valuable pursuit in my absence. Which was mostly true, but it still felt kind of scammy.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:20 AM
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I know the guy who trains those canvassers. Or used to. He doesn't talk much about work so I don't know what he does now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:22 AM
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we went door to door back in the day, one on each side of the street

If the thread below this one is anything to go by, you'd get the cops called on you if you tried that today.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:23 AM
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I don't think I've ever encountered a door to door salesperson. I've had Jehova's Witnesses and charity fundraisers, but never someone trying to actually sell me something physical. But they must exist in the UK because I've seen houses with no sales signs on the window/door.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:26 AM
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Oh dude no. No they really, really aren't.

I knew, knew someone was going to say that. They aren't a connoisseur's knife, but I stand by my statement that they aren't a scam either.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:26 AM
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People get really picky about knives. It's like coffee for me. I can tell complete shit from adequate but not adequate from great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:28 AM
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With several of those street canvassers (who are legion around here) I can look them right in the eye and say "I'm already a supporter!", smile, and keep on moving.

Sometimes it's even true.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:33 AM
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People get really picky about knives.

True. I might have said the same thing (or been more insulting, were that my personality), if somebody said they had been selling Bose products.

And yet, in this case, the quality of the knives wasn't really the point.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:33 AM
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On speakers, I can't even tell complete shit from adequate.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:35 AM
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People get really picky about knives

Dangerous! I know it's gross, but it's still better to use your fingers.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:38 AM
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Not being a connoisseur's knife isn't a crime, but not being one while costing the same as one is a pretty good indicator.

They're serrated knives made from lower grade steel and sold at prices that can get you a seriously good knife. Their entire business model is based on the fact that people will buy things from, mostly, friends and relatives, and that when you sell them door to door almost no one has another new knife on hand to compare them too which makes them seem impressively sharp.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:40 AM
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Count me among the Mineshaft's legion of PIRG single-day workers.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:40 AM
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What 62 said. The problem with Cutco is that it's priced at or above stuff like Yoshihiro which is crazytown.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:47 AM
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What 62 said. The problem with Cutco is that it's priced at or above stuff like Yoshihiro which is crazytown.

My recollection is that at the point at which I was involved (about 20 years ago *gulp*) high-end knives still had a higher mark-up than they do now. Both because the market was smaller and, pre-internet shopping, they were mostly carried by premium stores. I could be wrong about that and, of course, if that is true it would have been somewhat city-specific.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:58 AM
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It also has those hideous handles. Seriously though, for the price of that 8" chef's knife you could get this Global chef's knife and still have enough money left over for a matching paring knife.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:58 AM
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(On one hand, I knew I shouldn't have commented on this thread. On the other hand, I posted because I wanted to offer commiseration about what an unpleasant experience it was, and I suppose this demonstrates the point.

I'm not really looking for sympathy but part of what was so demoralizing about it was not only the sense of failure but also the feeling that either success or failure felt slightly shameful.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:00 AM
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Cutco: I nearly spent a summer selling those knives, but didn't for some reason I don't remember. Maybe my parents gently pushed me towards a job that was a better fit? Don't remember. Instead, I spent my college summers as a prep cook/dishwasher at a restaurant, managing a snack bar, and working in a junk mail factory. Probably better than door-to-door sales.

34
Which is why a lot of canvassers won't take cash donations unless you give them your information - I usually offer people five or ten bucks to help them make quota, but not too many take it.

Interesting. At this point I'm in a weird place: I only pay door-to-door salespeople by check or credit card, because at least that way there's some paper trail if it's a scam. I've had some people at my door that I'm 99 percent sure would just plain take the money and run. However, when I see people who say they're looking for donations for nonprofits, I only give them cash because I already get enough junk mail and spam e-mail, thankyouverymuch.

I don't know what I'd do if someone looking for a donation for a nonprofit came to my front door.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:02 AM
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The people who run the FarmBox co-op like thing that we use went door to door, which is how I learned about them and signed up (it's been great). That's the only commercial product I've ever purchased from a door-to-door salesman, and it's actually the only time I can recall being solicited for something commercial* at the front door.

Never did PIRG but like all sane people I've hated going door-to-door for some political thing when I've done so.

*Except for people who want to paint your house number on the curb, sometimes with a little American flag next to it, more recently with the little Obama-for-America symbol (I live in a neighborhood with a lot of middle class black people). Does this happen other places? These guys come by at least twice a year to try and sell you on repainting your house number on the curb.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:02 AM
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It didn't pay that well, and it was grueling to be in the sun/on your feet/on your most extroverted behavior for so long, but overall it was incredibly fun & educational. I loved that success could be judged by a single number, so I could see how I was improving every week. Also, getting rudely ignored 100s of times per day was good practice for shrugging off rejection in other aspects of life. I had a lot of friends in undergrad who I feel would have 20% happier lives if they were forced to do this job for 2 or 3 months

Yes, it seems that I craved that kind of experience that would force me out of my shell, so I wouldn't have to always be so shy and socially awkward. I don't know if it was just circumstance that prevented it, or if there's something in my nature that wouldn't allow it to happen.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:05 AM
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67: Fine, you're going to make me admit getting sucked into it back in '96, aren't you. It was the idea of my then girlfriend now wife and I still occasionally give her shit about it. We have a constant reminder in the Cutco set my in laws bought us a few years into our marriage. More money than sense, those people.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:05 AM
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69: Happens here, but not as often and I've yet to be offered an Obama symbol with it.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:07 AM
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Have you considered going back to it, like, on the side? I'd bet you'd make a lot more money now due to people being more likely to do what cops tell them and also knowing where to find people who like having knives.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:11 AM
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I took an organizing class once and was video-recorded so I could look at myself trying to make a pitch to someone to sign a petition. That didn't even involve asking for money -- heck, it wasn't even real -- and it was still awful. I watched the video afterwards with the instructor and at the end he just looked at me and said: "[widget], don't go into commission sales."

I also went door-to-door for Kerry in 2004 but that was easier. We were contacting known supporters to remind them to vote and to offer a ride to the polls if they needed it, so I had a reasonable expectation that people weren't going to be pissed off at me when I rang their doorbells. That helped a lot. The energy among the volunteers was good, too. I really thought we were going to win (and we did win that state; I was in PA).


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:13 AM
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Except for people who want to paint your house number on the curb, sometimes with a little American flag next to it, more recently with the little Obama-for-America symbol ?

Political symbols on the curbs has a great track record in Northern Ireland.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:15 AM
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The key to going door-to-door or phonebanking is to remember that although you're annoying the fuck out of yourself, you're only annoying each individual once.

I was terrible at PIRG because I didn't really understand how much money people other than me had (I was broke, not poor). I enjoyed going door-to-door for political campaigns, especially when it involved jumping locked apartment gates. I always thought a good non-jumpy method would be to ring someone with a Christ icon on their doorbell and ask them to buzz you in so you can spread the Word.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:21 AM
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I took an organizing class once

I read this and thought, "Where do I sign up for such a class? My desk is so disorganized!" Then I read the rest of the comment and divined the meaning from context. :(


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:22 AM
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PIRG was the autumn of '95 in Seattle. I'd gone there because I needed an odd number of semesters to graduate and I wanted to walk with my class. The whole grunge thing was winding down and I felt suited to declines. At the same time I was doing terrible at the door, I made a little bit of money hawking subscriptions to the Seattle Times outside grocery stores. Much easier to sell when I gave not a single fuck about the issue.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:23 AM
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Hah. Back when Sally was little, I was talking to another woman in the playground, and asked what she did for a living. "I'm an organizer."

"Cool! What union?"

[Blank stare] "I organize people's closets."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:25 AM
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The key to going door-to-door or phonebanking life is to remember that although you're annoying the fuck out of yourself, you're only annoying each individual once.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:26 AM
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80: The key to happiness in life is finding that special someone you can annoy the fuck out of over and over until one of you dies.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:31 AM
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I was terrible at PIRG

So far you are the only Unfoggeder who lasted more than a day at PIRG, so I would say you were great.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:31 AM
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79 makes my heart happy.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:34 AM
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I canvased for what's now called a PIRG for a few weeks in the late 70s, and my experience tracked Tim Burke's.

I went door-to-door to sell things as a kid, for organizations like Boy Scouts or Band, but also to try to make money. I made sales but found it exhausting.

My parents would buy things from door-to-door salesmen, also my grandparents. I've still got a few pieces of everyday tableware I remember being sold to my parents in the 50s. Also encyclopedias: We had several sets, which nobody but me ever used. I've got a very elaborate and big Bible sold to my grandfather sometime in the 20s.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:36 AM
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74, my experience working for Kerry was not so good. A fellow college senior and I were asked to go to low-income senior citizen community centers and explain how Bush was bad because of the Medicare reforms. As far as I could tell the Medicare reforms were the only good thing Bush had done for anyone, and it was specifically a good thing for senior citizens, and objections were because they wasted taxpayers' money. And the guy assigning the jobs was specifically telling us that we should go into the places and ask to give informational presentations, but then incorporate into the presentation an explanation of why Bush should be voted out. Also, why was this job given to 21-year-olds? I wonder if anyone actually carried out this project.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:38 AM
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Which is to say, I wasn't working for Kerry, I was working for some outside 501c3 organization.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:47 AM
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Did anyone go door to door for Kerry while working for a nameless 501c3 in Minneapolis in 2004? Based over northeast? If so, we may have worked together!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:51 AM
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85 - In my brief career in organizing political field work from volunteers, our mantra was that the work we were doing was for GOTV only, not any kind of persuasion. Door-to-door (or phonebanking, for that matter) should never get into substantive issues. You just really don't want random students and people with time on their hands going around offering substantive takes on issues in a candidate's name to voters, because the volunteers will probably get stuff wrong and annoy the person they're talking to. The only real role for volunteers is identifying people who are likely to vote for your candidate anyway (for reasons that have nothing to do with any persuasion by you) and then making sure those people show up and vote.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:55 AM
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88 is mostly true of high profile races, but not necessarily of the local / state government type races, where the majority of voters don't know jack about any of the candidates.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:01 PM
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People remind me to vote so many fucking times.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:03 PM
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Since this is the "terrible jobs" thread, this story (linked by Brad DeLong) is really depressing.

My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the only "job" she was able to find was at a retail store.

...

What is Mara's job like? Her sales figures are monitored...by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both. She's jacked into a headset that literally barks algorithmic, programmed "orders" at her, parroting her own "performance" back to her, telling her how she compares with quotas calculated...down to the second...for all the hundreds of items in the store...which recites "influence and manipulation techniques" to her...to use on unsuspecting customers...that sound suspiciously like psychological warfare. It's as if the NSA was following you around......and it was stuck in your head...telling you what an inadequate failure you were


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:13 PM
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91: What store could that be? It doesn't match up to my experience at all -- in so far as it suggests sales people aggressively pushing stuff.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:20 PM
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Probably a high-end knife store.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:26 PM
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91: What store could that be?

I had the same thought. It's also the case that the hyperbolic tone makes it hard to tell exactly how much is true.

It also reminds me of this article from last year (which we probably discussed on unfogged) which is better written.

I knew I had to leave Sporting Goods Inc. when I realized I was turning into the sort-of overeager employee who is way too emotionally invested in a crappy menial job that does its best to devalue him.

Having once supervised an 80-member news division of a major metropolitan newspaper, the first weeks on my new job triggered a self-esteem meltdown. Flygirl, a supervisor half my age with a high school diploma, critiqued my shirt folding. I fruitlessly searched the shoe stockroom for the right size and style for an impatient customer. I silently prayed no one who knew me would come in during my shift.

As the learning curve flattened, however, my past life faded over the horizon and I gave up looking for an on-ramp back to journalism. Starved for approval after so much rejection, I started to take a weird, internal pride in my crappy menial job, almost against my will.

I felt a thrill when Stretch gave me a high-five for taking an online order from a customer without screwing it up. I quietly exulted when I correctly diagnosed that a customer needed stability running shoes and not the neutral ones he wanted. I congratulated myself on my work ethic when, instead of taking an unpaid sick day, I pushed through a Saturday shift despite a wicked, can't-breathe bronchial infection.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:27 PM
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The sales people with headsets are easy to dodge, its the ones with the sub-dermal chip implants that you don't see coming.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:23 PM
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"Cool! What union?" [Blank stare] "I organize people's closets."

So great.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:56 PM
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I lasted for one afternoon in a workstudy job I had, working for someone with an office in the business school. I was to go around asking people on the street, in the library, in my dorm, or wherever if they had 5 minutes to spare to answer some questions. The guy even had me use one of his (or likely the gsb's) slightly outdated laptops for the project. I can't even recall what the job was, though I know the "5 minutes" was a lie, it always took 10 or more. ugh. (Thankfully, the next work-study job I had was as an assistant in one of the lab school libraries. Very fun.)

I also worked for about a year and a half in the alumni office calling for donations for the uni: worst job I ever had except for working in fast food as a teenager. I was seriously close to alcoholism because I hated going to and being at work everyday. What's worse was I wasn't terrible at the job, and whenever my boss complimented me or congratulated me in front of the crew I felt a shame I've never felt before or since.

Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed working door-to-door for the 2010 census in the HP and Kenwood neighborhoods. I think the difference is that as a census worker I didn't have to feign enthusiasm at all (which, in addition to my prior belief in the importance of the census, allowed me to be genuinely enthusiastic).

I might be able to lie all day long if need be about factual, cognitive-type things (thank you hs debate skills), but when asked to fake affectivity I feel like absolute dirt. I'd rather suffer any number of indignities, possibly including physical harm, than ever again have to feel like I'm selling someone on something.


Posted by: protoplasm | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:06 PM
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The asshole article has too many ellipsises, and there's better stuff on affective labor, but let me recommend the SF novel _The Bright Spot_ in that general line. Plus also a murder mystery and half-happy ending.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:08 PM
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A Montana friend reported a scammy-seeming sales pitch where "they come to your door and offer a free carpet cleaning and a candle, and say "but the catch is, we can't clean the whole house"". She posted it on facebook to see if anyone else knew what was happening. TONS of people commented to say that they had also been visited by the same people:

"They came to our house but they didn't give me a candle! I did end up having to sit there for two hours while a guy cleaned the living room carpet. Then he called in another guy who tried really really hard to sell me the vacuum thing (which cost something in the 1000s). He tried to make me feel guilty, like I owed them for their time. ?! I didn't buy it and the carpet was pretty clean so there's that. I did have some moments of unease after realizing I let two strangers into my house. Especially because the last guy was a super sketchy con-man type. Luckily Megan was hiding downstairs the whole time so I could have called for backup if it turned out to be a rape scam. That's my story."

"I had the same thing happen and then they wanted to sell me a $5,000 vacuum. They have people waiting in the "wings" and once they get in your door they will never, ever leave. I had to text connor and he came home to "pick me up" for a "soccer game". If they are in your house text me now. I will come over with an emergency!!"

"that's kirby vacuums. they get a girl to give you the candle, when she goes back to the car without the candle, a saleperson comes in and demos the vacuum. the demo guy is not usually the tough seller, so they call in the closer at the end. not quite a scam - the vacuums are really good and can last a lifetime, but they try to sell to people that can't afford them so they can set them up with financing"

So apparently there are still door-to-door vacuum sales going on, albeit with a creepy twist about candles and tag-teaming.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:15 PM
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Allow me to recommend the Pacific Homeworks Yelp page. We had a similar experience but managed to shut it down after about 90 minutes.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:32 PM
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This one time in the 1950s I was in Cuba and this guy was so desperate to sell a vacuum he disguised it as a rocket launcher.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:42 PM
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I'm very interested in what the point of both people being home is, in the Pacific Homeworks deal. Wouldn't that make it harder to do a hard sell? I'd think having your spouse there would make it easier to say no and morally support each other.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:18 PM
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I think the idea is your spouse can't come home and say, "You agreed to what?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:21 PM
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I was curious about that too -- maybe the crazy hard sell somehow works in a way that would look actually threatening if directed at a person alone? People would call the cops? But with a couple, there's room to be pushier without being scary?

But I'm speculating, I can't really see how that would work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:21 PM
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I remember a Dave Barry article out his visit with people selling time shares and now they were told many times they had to bring their spouse.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:27 PM
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Don't a number of states have protections against door-to-door sales in the form of mandatory cooldown periods? 103 would make sense in that context especially.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:28 PM
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I was thinking that was the point of making you set an appointment for the next day. But maybe there's legal protection/ a way to get out of a contract if it's not signed by everyone on the deed?

Or maybe it's like the Nigerian Prince thing, where they try to preselect for people who will let themselves be bossed around.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:45 PM
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Does anyone here use a steam mop? They seem like they would be good for an allergy/asthma house but I don't know anyone with one.

Hang on, there's someone at the door--


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:51 PM
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Really? I feel like I am the less willing-to-buy partner, and I absolutely hate fighting on two fronts. If they hooked my boyfriend somehow, then I'd have a terrible time saying 'fuck no' to both of them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:16 PM
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I have a steam mop thing. It's easier than washing the floor with a bucket of soapy water and a rag, but I don't think it does jack for allergies.


Posted by: dk | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:40 PM
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I really liked my steam mop but haven't used it lately. I have the kind (shark) where you throw the cover I the laundry when you finish, which is nice and allergy-friendly. Maybe I should start again. I only actually like cleaning the kitchen floor on my hands and knees, not the rest of the house, though I'm training the girls to take over.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:01 PM
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Oh one of the Yelp reviewers (I got a little addicted) says there is a CA law that all homeowners must be present when signing a contract/work order. I guess if your whole business plan is taking people hostage at an "estimate" and making them sign contracts to escape, it makes sense not to set up the estimate unless everyone is there.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:03 PM
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102: I'm guessing the work order also includes an authorization to put a lien on the house as security against nonpayment, so everybody named in the deer needs to sign.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:25 PM
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If there's financing, it would seem to me that you'd have the TILA rescission period. Better to have the spouse on board, at least for the first few days, to get past it.

(I'm trying to forget everything I used to know about TILA, so maybe it doesn't apply.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:26 PM
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so everybody named in the deer needs to sign

Some forms of haruspicy examine deer entrails looking for names. Anyone named in the deer has partial ownership of the thing in question.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:04 PM
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That link in 100 is really something.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:05 PM
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Pace 100, I've thought for awhile that if we ever find ourselves in another housing boom, I'm going to buy a truck, move to whereever is hottest, and open up a fake drywall company. Just go around lowballing people and get some kind of deposit for "materials" or whatever, drop off some buckets and then make myself scarce. I bet you could make $8K a week that way if you were somewhat industrious.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:13 PM
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There are plenty of places where there's a housing boom right now. Go for it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:18 PM
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You'd be doing less harm than my mother's plumber, who putvin plumbing so bad that it damaged the foundation, interior, and roof in different years of its failing.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:23 PM
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He was probably one of the porn-star plumbers who was just too shy to say anything when somebody called him to install actual plumbing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:28 PM
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The first plumber I ever hired put the hot and cold taps in reversed. He wasn't all that apologetic about it either.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:36 PM
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They always do that. You'd think it would be a solved problem.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:46 PM
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I can't remember if I met him. Nor has my mother mentioned anything boom-chicka, and she would...

Our new shower has a hot/cold rotary control and a flow control, independent of each other, and it's great. As good as a Navy shower button.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:53 PM
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As good as a Navy shower button.

This is a usage of the word "good" with which I was not previously familiar.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:57 PM
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I bought a kirby vacuum from a door-to-door salesman once because he just wouldn't stop talking and wouldn't leave and after... 2 hours?... it became obvious that buying the vacuum and then returning it would be easier than not buying it. So I made very clear that I'd need to return the vacuum if my wife disapproved of my spending $1000 on a new vacuum that we didn't need. I'm not even sure if I actually talked to my wife about it, other than perhaps to sheepishly say that I bought a vacuum that I was going to return because doing that was, strangely, easier than not buying the vacuum. Calling the company the next day to cancel the order was totally painless, and the salesman came back and picked it up without any further hassle.

About 15 years ago, my wife bought a cutco knife because a friend of hers was selling it and so she had a hard time saying no. We still have it and use it more than any of our other knives, even though in some ways its subpar, because it's basically indestructible, plus dishwasher safe. So we don't worry about damaging it. It's held an edge much better than our wusthofs.

Also as kid--maybe age 8 or 9?--I signed up for a bunch of magazines from a door-to-door magazine salesman who came to our house when my parents weren't home. (That's an unappreciated risk of free-range parenting. Your children are at the mercy of predatory salesmen, especially those operating on an order now, pay later system.) I think my mom ended up cancelling most of those, but I believe we kept one or two.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:19 PM
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124 seconded


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:21 PM
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There's never enough water to waste, gentlemen.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:26 PM
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125.1 is not a thought process that I find intuitive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:29 PM
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125.last - They were allowed to take orders from a kid under 10???


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:38 AM
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128: well at least half his sales pitch was centered around "just take the vacuum, try it, you'll love it, if for any reason you don't love it there's a no questions asked 30-day hassle-free return policy". I'd said I didn't want it about 30 times and he wouldn't stop talking and wouldn't leave. I asked a lot of questions about the return policy and it seemed legit. It seemed to be the easiest way to get him out of my apartment.

129: probably not, no, but this guy did.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:48 AM
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Objectively, that seems the time to threaten calling police, but I don't know if I'd actually be able to do that in the event.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:03 AM
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Threaten police, or mention that one time you spent 30 days in jail for assault.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:12 AM
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129: I think I signed up for the Columbia records thing by mail. I don't think I ever bought all the records you were supposed to--just the initial set of cheap ones. After that, they didn't have anything I wanted.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:36 AM
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The step before calling the police, IME, is being repetitive. "I don't want it, please leave." [continues spiel] "I don't want it, please leave." A couple of repeats of that, flat affect, exactly the same words, and it becomes clear that this is no longer a normal conversation, and most people will run down and give up. (Never done this to a salesperson, but I have ended conversations with people who wouldn't give up and stop talking that way.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:37 AM
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If they keep going, always follow up with "Your mom wouldn't take no for an answer last night either."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:56 AM
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"I called the cops on her, and I'll call them on you."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:00 AM
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||

Hokey Pokey is back in skirts again, because Hawaii was going through her closet and he can't bear to see any item leave our house. His daycare teacher - first, no one teaches four year olds in a skirt, and second I know her to be butch-ish lesbian - never ever wears skirts. But despite that, she arranged with Hokey Pokey that they'd wear skirts together on Wednesday, which they did, and she just sent me a photo. She is the absolute best.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:03 AM
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If you ask them to leave you'll never know if it all was an elaborate set up for a strip-o-gram.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:03 AM
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You people are sometimes actually letting them in? Screw that. "I appreciate you're just trying to make a buck, but you coming in my house isn't going to happen" seems to work pretty well.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:11 AM
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Yeah, I'm having the same reaction as gswift.
"Can I come in?"
"no.....but thanks for stopping by!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:22 AM
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137: that's adorbs.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:55 AM
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Yes, 137 is super sweet! I really have it easy, because putting a little girl in Batman gear gets you credit for being transgressive without actually having to deal with any of the social pressure in the other direction. Plus she's happy, except when mean mommy won't let her rewear dirty Batman clothes.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:09 AM
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I've always wondered how real Batman anyways has clean Batman clothes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:11 AM
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Alfred knows their secret, right? I assume he's better at keeping up with laundry than I am, too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:14 AM
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143, 144: Also see Batman #666 in which there's a brief shot of closet full of Batman suits.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:20 AM
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I'm surprised to see how many people apparently answer their door. That's a habit to break.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:42 PM
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58: I put on an apologetic face, say "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm a misanthropist" and keep walking


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 1:00 AM
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I was at university in Scotland and one of those door-to-door book selling operations used to recruit students pretty aggressively to fly to Tennessee over the summer holidays. The premium from Scottish accents must have been worth the flights, I suppose. Horror stories abounded (the student paper did an exposé) but a friend of mine had done it, loved it, and used to defend it whenever the topic came up. She apparently earned quite a lot too, which I could believe.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 1:08 AM
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134 but I have ended conversations with people who wouldn't give up and stop talking that way

So that's what I should do the next time a student comes to my office.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 5:23 AM
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I tried to get a conversation started about Bible editions with a couple of guys who stopped and asked me if I'd read the word while I was waiting at a bus stop. They seemed flustered.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 7:28 AM
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I'm surprised to see how many people apparently answer their door. That's a habit to break.

Yeah, don't do that. The MO of your typical burglary is to knock first to see if anyone's home. Not answering your door or at least coming to it and making your presence known is a good way to find yourself hiding somewhere in your own house while calling 911.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 9:55 AM
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I just fire a shot through the door.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 10:35 AM
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Just rig the doorbell to shoot bullets when pressed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 10:45 AM
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Then salesmen who only knocked would evolve.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 10:56 AM
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153 -- one of the lamest things everyone learns in law school is that it's not OK to have spring-loaded guns around your house.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 3:31 PM
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Somewhere in Florida there's gotta be a state legislator working to change that.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 5:58 PM
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