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Unless you’re selling Thin Mints…

September 12, 2013

salesmanA few months ago, I was in a local store, and a local salesgirl approached me. “Can I help you find anything, ma’am?” I thanked her for the offer, but I was fine. I needed to browse. Do you know what happened next? She pouted. She stuck her bottom lip out and said, “Okaaaaay. But I can help you find something extra special.”
I was shopping for a birthday gift, and while I didn’t know exactly what I would buy, I’d figure it out. It wasn’t my first time in the store. Besides, I told her I was fine. She is an adult woman who pouted because I told her I didn’t want her help. I wasn’t mean. Why did she stick out her lip?
I’m not a salesperson. From what I’ve heard, I might be good at selling things. I don’t like it, though. We’ve had to sell popcorn for scouts, and now we’re supposed to sell wrapping paper and kitchen gadgets for school. Don’t get me wrong, I know the school needs money. My kids want the prizes. If you sell a certain number of items you “win” things like slap bracelets and other dollar bin type toys.
Can I write a check to the school and go buy the kids some “prizes” at the dollar store? Can they still be invited to the Top Sellers party? That’s all they want, anyway.
When I was sick a couple weeks ago, a young man called me. I want to call him a kid, but because I didn’t learn his age, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He gave me his name, telling me some friends said he should get in touch with me. “Yes ma’am, Tom and Kathy said you’d help me with something for school.” School? I love school! I love helping!
“Well, I just got out of the hospital, so it’s not the best time, but I’d love to help. Can we talk early next week?” I didn’t know what I was getting myself in to, but if Tom and Kathy sent the kid my way, I’m sure it’s no big deal.
“Sure, Jenny. You see, I sell XXX, and I’d love to tell you all about it. Are you familiar with our products?” Tires screech. Silence. Of course this is what he wanted. I don’t need to tell you what he was selling. You can insert books, knives, vacuums, or anything else heavily peddled.
“OH. Well, I’m very familiar with the products. We receive the catalog, and I typically shop that way. Is there a way I can give you credit on a future purchase?” Surely this would get rid of him. We do, in fact, buy the knives for my dad from time to time. I wasn’t in the mood for his procedural spiel. “You won’t have to go through the whole talk or anything. Just let me know what to do.”
“You see, I’m a director and would really like to set up a time to come to your home and show you the products. Can we arrange that?” Relentless.
I reminded him that it wasn’t a good time. Maybe we should talk next week. I thought for sure he wouldn’t call back. He did. Twice. I get the impression he’d pat me on the back after making a purchase. I’m not interested. I’m all for supporting kids and their jobs. Hell, one of my jobs in college was to call UGA alumni for the Annual Fund. Fortunately, I was calling past donors for the law school only, so they were more than happy to donate. They weren’t often happy to talk to me on the phone. You can gauge these things, though. If they offer to write a check, take it. Attempt an upsell, but don’t tarnish the brand.
I’m not interesting in buying any XXX anytime soon. Poor kid. He sounds nice. The only people who get away with door-to-door sales are the Girl Scouts.
I’ll email the family about buying some wrapping paper. If anyone else is interested, you don’t even have to listen to a presentation. Let me know, and I’ll get you the online ordering information. The Kids would appreciate the upgrade in seller status. Unfortunately, your kid’s probably peddling the same stuff.
All kidding aside and on an unrelated note, Jordan died one year ago this week ( Don’t drink and drive. Plan for a DD or stay on your deck. The risks greatly outweigh the benefits. The mourning hasn’t slowed for a sweet, talented girl whose life ended too soon.
Hug your people, people (and buy a lil wrapping paper?). Cheers!

*originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA

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