It wasn’t the product. The shiny vacuum cleaner fit neatly in a small box. But when the salesman took all the pieces and parts out of the box and starting snapping, fitting, and twisting them together, it overwhelmed me. I’ll never be able to put it together, I joked.
He flashed me a wide grin. He was young. Good-looking. Well dressed. And he knew his sales pitch well. So well, in fact, that it slid through his lips at an alarming speed and I found myself asking again and again, “Would you repeat that?” He could. He did.
Let’s start at the beginning. I was outside cleaning the patio on a gorgeous autumn day, bemoaning the fact that I would soon be putting all the furniture and outdoor accessories away for the next season. Almost out of no where, but actually from behind a beat-up old Honda Odyssey, he appeared.
He ran from the back of the van to the patio. “I would just like to give you a free gift…. made in America. The good old USA!”
He handed me a bag of washing machine pods that you just toss into your washer. I like them… they are convenient, but they seem like everything else these days… too much packaging and a bit more pricey than good old liquid or powder detergent. The detergent pods threw me, maybe purposefully, because the next spiel had nothing to do with laundry. In the time that it took me to examine the bag of free laundry pods, he ran back to the rear of the van and returned with a box. A rather elegant burgundy and cream box. It could have held a fur coat or a wedding gown. It was fancy.
“Can I show you something? It’s a great product.”
“OK,” I answered and pointed out a patio chair nearby where he could sit.
“Oh, no, this is a demonstration that I must do inside your house.”
By the time I was ready to respond to that, he had bounded up my back stairs and was wildly unpacking his box in the kitchen.
“You see,” he said. “I am trying to earn a trip to the Dominican Republic. Wouldn’t you like to help me out with that?”
Inside my head I’m thinking…. I haven’t had a vacation in a few years. I’ m not real excited about funding yours.
I just looked at him. He proceeded with gusto, “Where is your carpeting?”
Quickly closing the nearby bedroom door which is carpeted, I lied and said, “I only have one room of carpeting in the family room and I’m planning on tearing it up and replacing it
with hardwood floor to match the rest of the house.” It was partially true.
That did not deter him. “Well you have furniture, right?”
We proceeded to the family room, sort of. I was following at a slower pace.
“I’m going to show you something that you won’t believe,” he grinned. He began to pull black velvety towels out of his sales kit, like a magician pulling silky scarves from his sleeve. He stuck a black towel into the sweeper outlet hole, plugged it in, and began to sweep. The entire time he was sweeping, he continued to tout the wonderfullness of his vacuum, but I couldn’t hear a word he was saying because the vacuum was loud. I just nodded my head and watched him clean my carpet. He stopped, turned off the machine, and carefully and dramatically pulled the black velvety towel out of the hole. Then he laid it out on the floor for
all me to see.
It was, of course, full of dirt and dust. I could show him things in my house he wouldn’t believe, too, I thought to myself. Places that haven’t been cleaned in a long, long time.
“Isn’t that amazing? Can you believe it? Look at all the dirt this machine sucked out of your carpet! When was the last time you vacuumed in here? “
“It’s been awhile,” I replied. He probably thought I was going to say…. yesterday. Yeah, right.
“Well, where is your current vacuum cleaner? May I see it?
I brought out my $69.95 bagless sweeper that had served me quite well (or so I thought).
He then showed me how my poor little vacuum couldn’t hold a candle to his mighty machine.
“How old is your sofa?” he asked next.
This was getting personal.
I rolled my eyes upward thinking….let’s see, Lindsay was born in 1986 and we still had the old blue couch then and I have a picture of her and Cheryl on this couch…
“Uh… probably about 25 years old.”
“Perfect! This next part of the demonstration will be the clincher. You’ve heard of dust mites, right? How one person can carry in your new king size mattress and then ten years later, it takes six guys to carry it out. You know that’s because of the dust mites in your mattress and of course, in your furniture. They feed on human skin and secretions and then… well, what goes in must come out,” he laughed gleefully.
Again, he inserted a new black velvet towel into the sweeper, detached part of the sweeper from the main part of the machine and ….voila! a hand held cleaner for your sofa! For a few minutes, he swept back and forth, flipped the cushions and swept some more. I was liking this. Then he dramatically removed the black towel from the sweeper and carefully unfolded it to display dust, dirt, and evidently hordes of dust mites. I was a little embarrassed, but, hey… the sofa WAS old and had been through the best years of three kids.
“Now, this is it.” He carefully picked up the black velvety towel and…. shook it!
Nothing released from the towel. It was stuck like glue. All the human skin and secretions from the last 25 years from every person who had ever sat on it was now on a black velvet towel. I was ready to run to the bathroom and vomit. At that precise moment, I was the closest to purchasing a new vacuum than I had been since he arrived.
Then, he made two fatal errors. He mentioned that trip again to the Dominican Republic, and he gave me a price. It was more than I had spent on my first car.
“So, how would you like to pay for this? Cash? Check? Credit Card? I can give you a bit of a discount if you pay cash.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m not paying that kind of money for a vacuum cleaner.”
“Oh ma’am these machines last a lifetime and there is a lifetime guarantee. Why I know families that pass their machines on to the next generation… a family heirloom, so to speak. And really I need your help for this trip to the Dominican Republic.”
“Sorry. That’s just more than I would ever spend on a vacuum.”
He continued his speech as I walked out into the kitchen and started unloading the dishwasher. Eventually, he realized I was done…. and began to pack everything into the elegant box. He headed out the door with a big “thanks-for-your-time.”
I felt a bit sorry that he hadn’t made a sale.
But you know, I’m just not that into cleaning.