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A Tough Job...
“I already told you; I don’t want to buy anything!”
“Wait, oh… I’m sorry, I –”. SLAM!
Sometimes you find yourself in an awkward or embarrassing situation, only to be faced with another one but a few minutes later. I had plenty of those experiences being a door-to-door salesman. In order to chronicle this dynamic day of my life, I have recorded the events of my experience with the hopes that you will be entertained and amused. Heck, you might even learn a little something!
It was the spring if 2010. In only a few months, I was going to attend a youth conference in Columbus, OH with my church high school group. There was only one problem: I need money to pay for it. In order to make a few bucks, I decided to participate in a Little Caesar’s Pizza Kit fundraising program.
When I received the order form, I looked over the choices and found all of them appetizing (big surprise!). This is going to be a snap! I thought. I printed out a map of my neighborhood to help with deliveries later, and I set off down the street.
At the first house I readjusted my collar, stood up straight and rang the doorbell with a smile (presentation is everything!). A moment later, a tall, sleepy-looking man dressed in a robe opened the door. His shoulders seemed to droop ever so slightly when he saw me.
“Hello, sir.” I began, “I’m selling Little Caesar’s pizzas, pies, and cookie dough to help raise funds to attend a church youth conference in Columbus, OH. Could I interest you in anything today, sir?”
“Oh,” the man replied in a voice that matched his doleful appearance, “Uh… no thanks.”
“Oh, well thank you for your time, sir!” I stated as the man closed his door. I felt a little disappointed, but was unfazed. I set off to the house next door. I rang the doorbell once. No one answered. I made it a rule to always ring or knock at least twice before leaving, but a second try produced still no answer. I marked this house as ‘absent’ on my map and continued onward.
At the next house the door was answered by an older woman who looked as if she had much more important things to do. Her whole face seemed to be drawn towards her mouth, which was turned down in a wrinkly frown.
“Good morning, ma’am.” I said, still smiling as the woman’s frown deepened. “I’m selling Little Caesar’s pizzas, pies, and cookie dough to help raise money so that I can attend a church youth conference in Columbus, OH. I was wondering if you would like to buy any-”
“No thanks,” she interrupted me, “I don’t want to buy anything.” She shut the door before I could thank her for her time. Not like she would have appreciated it anyway…
Well… I hope she isn’t always like that. I thought to myself. I continued on to the next house with no avail. Three houses in a row were vacant. In hindsight, I realize a lot of people wouldn’t have been there because they weren’t yet home from work. After another long string of various rejections, I reached the second-to-last house on the street. I rang the bell and waited with probably half the enthusiasm I had at the first house. A middle-aged man appeared at the door. He looked at me with a friendly smile as he opened the screen door.
“Good afternoon, sir!” I stated, feeling better thanks to the man’s friendly appearence, “I’m selling Little Caesar’s pizzas, pies and cookie dough to help raise money for a church youth conference in Columbus, OH this summer.” I pointed out various items on the order sheet as I named them off. “Could I interest you in anything today, sir?” The man nodded his gray head and replied.
“Well, let me take a look. Come on in!” He gestured with his arm for me to follow him inside. He brought me into the dining room and sat down at the table. After his prompting, I pulled up a chair and did the same. He looked at me with a raised brow. “So, you’re selling pizzas, huh?”
“Yeah, pizza kits, along with pies and cookie dough.” I said, feeling just slightly uncomfortable. Sitting in a complete stranger’s dining room can be a very awkward experience, no matter how kind or friendly they are. The man studied the selections on the sheet carefully.
“And, uh… what it a pizza kit?” the kind man inquired as he looked up from the order sheet.
“It’s a kit that has everything you need to make and bake three different pizzas fresh in your oven.” I explained.
“Hmm…” the man replied rather absent-mindedly as he again looked over the sheet. After a minute or two of thought and a great deal of scratching his balding head, he looked up and said, “I think I’ll take one cheese pizza kit.”
“Oh, alright! Um… cool!” I was rather unprepared for such an occurrence; especially after his drawn-out session of scrutiny. The man got up abruptly and strode into the office in the adjacent room. He called out from the door.
“Who should I make the check out to?” I thought for a moment, and then remembered.
“Write it out to Five Oaks Community Church.” I told him. The man pulled out a checkbook and began scribbling in it. He then tore out the check and handed it to me along with the order sheet. “Thank you, sir!” I said as I began to walk towards the front door.
“You’re welcome! And have a good time in Columbus!” he replied. I thanked him again as he closed the door after me. With a renewed vigor, I set out to the next street. I received from the residents of this street a large variety of interesting reasons as to why they couldn’t buy any pizza:
“Sorry, but I’m on a diet.”
“I’d like to, but we’re raising money for someone to go to Peru.”
“I don’t like pizza.”
“My parents are taking a shower now…”
“I don’t have the money right now.”
“Really, I should talk with my wife first!”
“Hey! What’s that over there?” Slam!
So on and so forth. There was one house that I was rather reluctant to visit. As I made my way down the sidewalk, I passed “The House” as we called it. The lawn was an untamed jungle of tangled crabgrass and weeds that had strangulated what little grass remained. A sun-bleached plastic Santa Clause, a nativity scene, and a Pooh Bear decoration from last Christmas still adorned the property. There was a terribly rusty refrigerator and a microwave standing in the driveway alongside a battered old sedan. When I knocked on the door, an enormously deep barking began emanating from behind the door.
“Shaddup, ya stupid dog!” a man yelled from another room. He certainly didn’t sound happy. As I took a step back from the door, another person yelled something I couldn’t understand from within the house. I decided that now was probably an OK time to break my “Knock twice” rule. Receding down the driveway, I continued on my way selling down the street.
Later, I decided to return to a few of the houses that I had previously marked ‘absent’ in attempt to try and get a few more orders before the day was over. As I approached one house, I thought that something seemed oddly familiar. Of course! Because I as here earlier. I thought. Duh! But as soon as I rang the bell, I realized in horror that the feeling was much more correct that I had thought.
“I already told you; I don’t want to buy anything!” Standing at the door with a glare that could freeze a cup of hot cocoa, was the woman with the wrinkly frown from earlier that day!
“Wait, oh… I’m sorry,” I blubbered, “This is a mistake! I –” SLAM! She shut the door hard, almost slicing my nose clean off of my face. As I scampered down the driveway, the woman peered out from the window beside the entrance, her eyes following me like a vulture. Trust me, that is one house that I will never mistakenly visit again!
At the end of the day, I only sold three items even though I visited almost twenty houses. (I did sell a total of 25 items by the end of the fundraiser!) I learned that this is the everyday life of a door-to-door salesman: little success and lots of rejection. (Sometimes there’s even a bit of danger!) But it was an experience that I enjoyed, and I went on to have a great time in Columbus with my friends!