Pray for our justice system. Robert Kirby is serving on a jury. Since he’s tied up in a courtroom — probably the only way the bailiffs could keep him there — we offer this reprint of a previous column.
Two kids knocked on my door Thursday afternoon. They were selling something. I gave them $20 and have no idea what I bought. That’s salesmanship.
Before them it was Cub Scouts selling Scout-O-Rama tickets. Then it was a visibly terrified girl hawking candles. The one I bought is the size of a fire hydrant and smells like an Easter Bunny fart.
I don’t like regular door-to-door solicitors. It doesn’t matter what they’re selling. I’d set the dogs on missionaries from my own church if they interrupted a nap — and my wife would let me.
Kids are different. It’s impossible for me to be annoyed with kids selling even the most useless crap, probably because I’ve been there — and it wasn’t my fault.
I was 11 when I first tried selling something door to door. Every day I delivered the latest edition of the Idaho Statesman to eight million homes along a route approximately the length of the Mississippi River.
Delivering papers was relatively easy, though I still managed to screw it up a lot. All that was required was leaving the paper on the porch and scuttling away before a dog or a cow came out.
Sam was the old guy who dropped off the newspaper bundles. One day he said there was a lot of money to be made by increasing circulation. We would all be riding new bikes by the end of summer if we sold subscriptions.
According to Sam, everyone wanted the paper. It was only a matter of knocking on their door and asking them. He gave us each a dozen extra papers for the new subscribers we were sure to get.
Rheumy eyes and horrific breath weren’t the least of Sam’s disturbing qualities. He was also a liar. It took five doors to prove that no one wanted the paper, including a woman with wet hair who clearly wanted me dead.
The last door was answered by an enormous man holding a beer and wearing only a pair of stained underpants. He swore at me until I recovered sufficient wit to flee.
I later told Sam no one wanted the paper. He said I wasn’t much of a salesman. I considered responding with some of the words I had learned from Underpants Man, but instead saved them for later.
After that, there were financially disastrous forays into selling seeds, magazines, greeting cards, candy bars and mowing services. I ate most of the candy, some of the seeds and got stiffed by the magazine company.
God help me, I even tried moving cats. One summer, Leon, Duncan and I lugged around a box of kittens for sale. A quarter wasn’t much to ask for a kitten, but a week later, we had the same number of cats and an extra puppy.
I still remember how tough it is to be in sales when you’re only 10.
I try to make the experience a positive one for kids. But if you’re an adult and you knock on my door, you better be wearing fast shoes.