Gi’e us yer money!

It’s for a good cause, I promise.

Note to self: If a heat wave begins on the same day as your new job, make sure you have a backup plan for employment.

Toronto has been experiencing a heat wave. It started the same day I began my first job in over six months. Seeing as this new job was as a door to door salesperson, I wasn’t particularly pleased about the sudden hike in temperature. Perhaps I should have recognized the heat wave for the bad omen it turned out to be.

Besides, a job as a door to door salesperson/promoter is exactly as you would have imagined it to be. I like to think I`m a pretty good sales person. I should be; I have enough experience in the field, nevertheless, I was a little nervous. What if I was unable to convince people that they should give some of their hard earned money to me? I felt better about the fact that we weren’t selling some horribly product no one actually needs. Instead we were promoting a rather worthy cause, one in desperate need of support from the community.

But let’s face it, door to door salespeople are treated only marginally better than telemarketers. So the butterflies weren’t completely unwarranted, heat wave or no.

On my first day I was to shadow a girl roughly my age, who’d been there a month and had become a team leader a week earlier. We were going to be indoors that day, in an apartment building, to keep us out of the sun. This building was in a slightly shady part of town.

‘The shadier the community, the better the chances for donations,’ my mentor told me. ‘Richer neighbourhoods aren’t nearly as fruitful as one would think. Rich people are snobbish. They’ll tell you that they already give to charity and can’t spare any more money to give to any other organization, before they shut the door in your face.’ She thought it was incredibly miserly of them. I thought it was simply a matter of keeping to one`s budget. (Maybe this job really wasn’t for me.)

As it turned out, having a door shut in my face didn’t happen nearly as often as I thought it would. For the most part people would simply talk  through a shut door and that was worse.

We knocked on at least a hundred doors if not more. For the most part the people we dealt with were pretty polite which was lucky. If we’d gone to the building we went to on my second day first, I don’t think I would have returned for a second day! That’s not to say that we didn’t end up talking to some pretty weird characters.There were four people who stick out from that day:

  1. The Chatterbox: He caught us in the hallway and demanded to know what we were doing. Half way through our explanation he lost interest and delighted with having a captive audience, started telling us his life story and all his woes. I suppose we were getting a dose of our own medicine, but we didn’t even have the option of shutting a door in his face.
  2. The Pantless Man: Maybe he thought that because he was wearing a tee-shirt he looked respectable. He was wrong. So very wrong!
  3. The Stoner:  When he opened the door he took a step back, shook his head and said, “Woahh!” He looked like he’d stepped out of That 70s Show. It took him a few minutes to grasp why we were there and then told us he had that very minute returned from Los Angeles. If the bloodshot eyes weren’t a giveaway, the suffocating fumes escaping into the hallway from his apartment, left us in no doubt about what kind of trip he’d been on.
  4. The Photographer: This chap politely listened to our opening with his head peeping around the door and then asked if he could put some clothes on. He then pulled some pulled some sweatpants on over his briefs under our astonished gaze.

Maybe it was the heat which was making everyone act a little strangely, but I have to admit being more than a little taken aback by the number of people who answered their door half-naked.

The second day we went to another part of town. It was another apartment building and it was in a much wealthier part of town. My mentor was right. The majority of people in this upper middle-class part of town weren’t nearly as giving as the people from the day before. On the bright side, they were fully clothed when they answered the door. Admittedly only a handful of people actually opened their doors.

Even though we got a cold reception on my second day, I managed to get a few donations, something I am a little torn over. Yes, it’s a worthy cause, but if you’re going to donate to charity why not do it in a more secure fashion? Despite my short stint as a door to door salesperson, there are some convictions I cannot shake and a few things that I will use from now on:

  1. It’s is downright idiotic to share your bank or credit card information with anyone who knocks on your door.
  2. Just because they say that theirs is a secure network it doesn’t mean that it is. Ours was, but that’s no reason to take our word for it!
  3. If you really are interested and you want to make sure they’re legitimate and they give you a number to call, then for heaven’s sake, call that number and find out!
  4. If you aren’t interested, say so from the get go. Don’t ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ because then the salesperson will use what they call a ‘kill negation statement’. Save both yourselves some time.
  5. If you’ve taken the effort to come to your peephole, it doesn’t take that much more effort to say that you’re not interested.
  6. There is no excuse for rudeness. It can be pretty irritating to have someone knock on your door in the middle of the afternoon when you’re having a siesta or when you’ve just got back from work. But it’s even worse for the poor sod on the other side of the door, who’s been outside all day in the heat.
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2 thoughts on “Gi’e us yer money!

  1. Yeah, canvassing work in general is brutal. I’ve never really enjoyed it, but as a freelancer you need to prospect people for work all the time so it’s kind of similar to cold sales really!

    P.S. I LOVE the background image on your blog!

    1. I don’t have a problem with cold sales really, but I think you need to be a certain sort of people to be able to hack it and this particular job. Indefatigable and a super thick skin I think is only part of what one needs to be a door-to-door salesperson.

      The background is a picture of the Orion Nebula. It is rather fantastic, isn’t it? 🙂

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