The Star-News


Close the door before they close the deal

Sat, Jun 04 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski

There was a knock on the door just before 5 p.m. I opened it to see a well-groomed couple.

The woman told me she wasn't selling anything. She handed me a flier and said she only wanted to clean the carpet in one room. I politely said, "No thank you." A sad look came over her face and she said would earn $50 if they could clean one room. She said it would only take 20-30 minutes and she wasn't selling anything.

We weren't going to eat dinner for another hour. I am also trying to be a better person by not being rude to sales people, especially in these tough economic times. Again I politely declined. This time she begged me. I gave in.

When two guys came in I saw they were carrying a Kirby vacuum cleaner. To myself I said, "Oh crap," or something similar.

You see, I've had experience with Kirby people over the years. This is not to say I haven't heard excellent things about the quality and durability of the machine.

The sales people are the problem.

Back in the 70s when I worked patrol we would often get radio calls saying, "The Kirby locusts are in town. They won't leave the residence at 235 Whatever Street." We would respond and make them move on.

On a personal level, when Mrs. Basinski and I were first married, a Kirby guy knocked on our door. He handed my wife her "free gift," which was a 2-liter bottle of pop. (That's right, it's "pop." I'm from Michigan. Powdered soda is what you use for baking or indigestion. In soda's liquid form you mix it with scotch or bourbon.)

That day, I had just emerged from the shower preparing to work the afternoon shift in a patrol car. My wife accepted the pop and closed the screen door while she listened to the guy. I could hear her politely refusing the offer for a free demonstration. The guy wouldn't leave.

I walked out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around me. Somewhat annoyed, I said, "I think she said she didn't want a demonstration." Back then I presented a more formidable presence than I do today.

The sales guy believed this was probably a refusal. He said he wanted his soda back. My wife reminded him it was a free gift. He wouldn't leave. I said, "Hey buddy, it's over. Leave. I'm getting dressed. Make sure you're gone when I return."

He said he had to have his soda back. I said, "It was a free gift. Besides, it's called pop."

Last week the Kirby guy demonstrated how dirty my carpet was and how good the Kirby was. I never disputed him. I noticed he had been there almost an hour. Soon, the sales boss knocked on the door and told me how great the product was. I agreed, but said I wouldn't be buying one because I didn't need it.

The price was more than I paid for my first brand new Chevrolet Nova in 1969. The price wasn't the only thing. I just didn't want it. The boss left and the demo guy did the shampoo demonstration. By now he had been there almost two hours.

The demo guy made a call on his cell while he was packing up. He said his boss would be by in a minute. I said, "No one else is coming into my house. You said you'd be here a half hour and it's been almost two. It's over."

Soon there was a knock on the door. I hollered, "He'll be out in a minute." I told the demo guy that they forced me to be rude by their persistent behavior. The woman said she wouldn't try to sell me anything. She didn't. The rest of them did.

During the demo, the guy told me they are trained to keep talking as long as the door is open. This means I should have closed the door in their faces.

That's not right either. They forced me to be rude.

Basinski is a 35-year police veteran, 17 of them with Chula Vista. His column appears the first and third week of the month. Basinski lives in Chula Vista.


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