Selling Us Crazy
This afternoon, a banged up white truck drove slowly up our street spewing disheveled twenty-somethings. “They’re coming,” I said to myself. And because I was out in the front yard working at the time, and had surely been seen, I knew it was too late to hide myself. So I hid the tools instead, closed up the garage, and waited.
Last year a man who had moved here from Africa came to our door selling a nameless window cleaner in bulk. When he realized that we were trying to get rid of him, he became desperate. “It’s safe!” he cried, squirting the window cleaner into his eyes until my wife shouted, “Stop! Stop! You must never do that again!”
Today it was the so-called student painters. I watched as one of them attacked houses along the south side of our street, failing to gain entry each time. Perhaps the owners were hiding inside, I thought, shushing each other. I got so lost in this fantasy that I failed to notice one of them as he emerged from around the hedge and startled me with a robotic hello. “Don’t worry,” he began, “my boss won’t make you buy nuthin’ you don’t want.” I hope at least that the student painters can paint, because they do not seem to be very good students.
The only endearing quality of these door-to-door hawkers is that they are consistently, tragically amusing.
But really, I can do without this kind of amusement. At every turn now, we are confronted with obnoxious sales pitches. Pump gas at one station in Marysville, Washington, and you’ll be forced to watch a video about the casino next door. Head down the road to Albertson’s, and if you can make it past the cute girl peddling cookies by the entrance and get your groceries, you’ll be forced to watch a video while waiting in the checkout line.
The first time I saw the Insidious Checkout Commercial Machine, I figured that it was at least worth tweeting about, so I tried to learn a little of the history. I started to ask the cashier how long it had been there, but apparently this was a touchy subject because she hissed back in a crescendo of disgust, punctuated with a deliberate pause between each word: “It drives me CRAZY!”
That pretty much sums up how we all feel about unwanted solicitations. Oh yes, and your cute little girl harassing me with her cookies outside the grocery store? I’ll buy her cookies when she is dedicated enough to squirt window cleaner in her eyes.