I am a sucker. Now, I am trusting you not to use this to your advantage as one of my faithful readers, but I cannot say no. Obviously this is hyperbole but, know that if I have ever said no to you about anything at all, it has taken an extreme amount of courage on my part. I get extremely anxious at the thought of disappointing someone, anyone, even complete strangers.
This is exactly why I don’t answer my door if I am not expecting company (the pizza delivery guy).
Usually if there is a knock at my door, which is extremely rare, it is when I am home for lunch. When I hear an unexpected knock, I freeze… literally. I will stop all motion for at least 1 minute. Why? Because if I go and answer the door, I will end up getting into a half an hour conversation about accepting Jesus in my life, all the while thinking, if you only knew me, you wouldn’t be wasting your time because I am heading straight to hell…
So, I avoid having to speak to them at all even though it is just as awkward when they are at my neighbor’s door when I pull out of my garage to go back to work and I look the opposite way as if this will make me invisible. I’m a coward.
So, what’s the point?
One day after work I decided to be brave and answer an unexpected knock. When I opened the door there stood a middle-aged giant in front of me. At least 6’7″ and a cleanly shaven bald head that was reflecting the bright orange of the late afternoon sun and he stunk of cheap aftershave. Behind him stood a guy in his early twenties with an overgrown goatee, a drab gray shirt, and a box about four feet long-standing at his side.
“Hi” the giant said in an overly enthusiastic way that made me dislike him immediately.
“Hi” I said, in an overly enthusiastic way that made me hate myself.
He introduced himself and said, “Dan and I,” he points his thumb over his shoulder, “were wondering if you would let him do a quick sales presentation for you. It won’t cost you anything and Dan gets a bonus based on the number of presentations he does each month. You get a bag of gummi worms for letting us take a few moments of your time.”
He tossed a bag of gummi worms into my hands and I said, “ye..” and Dan buzzed through the door way and was unloading his box in my living room like he was on a pit crew in the Indy 500.
“Dan, I’ll be back in a little bit; call my cell if you need anything” he said looking at Dan over my head and then he just walked away.
I turned and looked at Dan putting together what was now clearly a Kirby vacuum, I looked at my gummi worms and then I looked after the giant walking away from my door thinking, how the fuck did he know I love gummi worms?
I knew that my wife would be home shortly so I thought I would try to hurry along the presentation because she is weird and doesn’t like it when I let strangers in the house… Dan began to show me the many features of the Kirby vacuum. He vacuumed our rug, our tv and even some of our hardwood floor to show me how it doesn’t scratch the wood. With every demonstration he would take out and replace a coaster sized filter that covered with black dirt. Then he asked if he could vacuum the stairs.
My house hadn’t been cleaned like this since the day we moved in, so I told him to go right ahead. That is when my wife walked in the door.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been standing in the middle of your living room watching a stranger vacuum your stairs when your spouse walked in, but I can assure you it is just as uncomfortable as it sounds.
Dan finished up the stairs and asked if he could vacuum our mattress. My wife let him know politely that it would not be necessary (she says no for me most of the time). Dan looked a little defeated as he explained that the mattress vacuuming was the highlight of his presentation as he glanced down at the 20+ dirty coaster filters that were now spread across our living room floor. We told him that we could only imagine (part of the reason that we didn’t let him do this was because the mattress that we were sleeping on at that point was older than we were. We have since gotten a new mattress, but when they took the old one away it looked like a mattress you would have found in the Amityville horror house.)
Dan did his best to sell us this ridiculously expensive vacuum after his presentation. We told him that we appreciated the effort and offer but that it was just not in our budget to buy a $1700 vacuum.
“Well, alright then” he said sounding disappointed as he looked at the 32 attachment that were scattered around our home, “I will call my boss and have him pick me up…”
We sat and listened to the one-sided phone call.
“Hey, I’m done, you can come pick me up.” Listening. “No.” Listening. “They said it’s too much money.” Listening. Then he turns to us, “What if I give you a $200 discount today?”
“No.” My wife and I said in unison.
“They said no.” Listening. “Yeah, I did the stairs.” Listening. “No, they wouldn’t let me in their bedroom.” Listening. “I don’t know.” Listening. “Okay, okay, bye,” turning to us, “he’ll be here in ten minutes, I’ll put this stuff away.”
We made small talk while he packed up and then the giant knocked at the door. I almost froze instinctively.
I opened the door and he ducked under the doorway walking into our living room.
Oh no, I thought, this is going to be bad.
The giant introduced himself to my wife and said, “You two have a lovely home. Dan told me that you were not interested in buying a vacuum, can I ask why not?”
My wife stares at me. The anxiety is flooding my body in preparation of saying no. “Well, it is just not something that we can afford.“
“Well, the way that I see it Tim, is that one of two things are going to happen today,” the giant pauses for dramatic effect, “the Kirby leaves with us and the dirt stays, or, the Kirby stays and all that dirt leaves.”
Our house isn’t THAT dirty, I thought.
“The way I see it, is that I can’t afford to spend $1500 on a vacuum because it won’t do me any good to have a vacuum cleaner on the street when I can’t make my mortgage payment.” I was being dramatic but I didn’t feel like dealing with this anymore.
“Well, I think that’s a little dramatic, Tim” he said calling me on my bullshit, then asks my wife, “what did you think about the Kirby?”
“It was really impressive,” Jenni said, making the situation worse.
I glance at Dan who is no sitting cross-legged on our living room floor.
The giant continued his aggressive sales pitch explaining the benefits and then finally said, “Alright, since money seems to be the only thing keeping you from buying a vacuum today, I have a proposal. I have a vacuum in my van out there. An older lady recently bought a Kirby from me, she loved it by the way, and she was making payments on the vacuum. Unfortunately, she died a couple of weeks ago. Now, I could sell you her vacuum for half price. Keep in mind she was only using it for about a month.”
He is trying to sell me a dead woman’s vacuum cleaner.
“No” I said, “we are not interested, we are not going to buy a vacuum from you today.” (I have never been so proud of myself)
“Well, I really think you are making the wrong choice here. Here, take my card in case you change your mind. Also, I’d appreciate if you have any referrals, you know, people you think would be interested in a Kirby.” He hands me a sheet with 50 lines for names and phone numbers.
After all that I had gone through over the past hour I thought, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
So, I gave him the name and phone number for two close friends. And, with a smile, I said good-bye and watched Dan and the giant walk to their van (which was filled with 3 other Dans).
I shut the door, turned, looked at my wife and said, “I am never answering the door again.”