Monday, March 06, 2006

Bookfield, First Day of Sales

Monday was our first sales day. I was somewhat excited to try my hand at selling, but overall not anxious to knock on doors. We decided to try to sell books in the morning, to get some money, and continue our search for a place to stay in the afternoon. In the evening we would contact Beverly about lodging that night. There was a motor home park not far from the campus, and we decided to try our luck there. We split up. Mary would go to the trailers on the left of the access road, while I tried the right. We would meet at noon.

This was it, my first house, my litmus test. I read the names on the mailboxes. I went up to the first trailer, Mrs. Brown’s. I gathered up my courage, knocked on the door and then retreated a few feet (as I was taught) so as not to be threatening. She took a long time; had she heard the knock? But there she was, opening the door.

“Mornin’”, she said. She was an older black lady. She held her head down and I couldn’t get a good look at her behind the screen door, but I could see her head of grey hair.

“Hi there Mrs. Brown! My name is Sue Fairview, and I’ve been calling on all of the church folks in the neighborhood. Y’all do go to some local church, don’t you?” I chimed.

“When I can, dear.”

“Well, I just wanted to come by and see you. May I come in?” She didn’t answer, but retreated into the home, leaving the only the screen door closed behind her. I took this as a yes and timidly opened the screen door and entered her home. A bead of sweat trickled down my forehead. The approach worked. I got in!!!

I tried to search for something to complement, but it was really dark inside the mobile home. It wasn’t much cooler than outside. She was already seated in the living area in an easy chair up against a shade covered window that was the brightest source of light in the room. I could only see her in silhouette. I sat on my sales case in front of her, opened it and removed my Bible Dictionary. I was completely focused on delivering the demo perfectly. I wondered if she could even see what I was doing in the dark as I turned the pages of the book to show her references to the scriptures. She listened attentively and asked me to look for something from her favorite scripture. My knowledge of the Bible is rudimentary, and I was glad that I could locate it for her. I took it as a good sign.

My demo finished, I moved to the closing. But she stopped me. “I’ve enjoyed your visit.” she said. “I’d be glad to buy one of your books, but I’m blind.” She turned her head slightly into the light and I could see a milky cloudiness over her eyes.

“Oh, I didn’t notice.” I said after a pausing to hide my utter surprise. “I’m very sorry Mrs. Brown.” Then it killed me to say what the company taught me, but I did. “A book like this would make a great gift for the grand kids too.” My back-up pitch failed though.

“I’m sorry honey, but I have no money anyhow.” She got up to show me the door. I left, hating myself for continuing to pitch her. How could I have not noticed that she was blind?

At least I had gotten into my first house and completed a demonstration. Maybe I didn’t do so badly after all. I needn’t tell anyone that my first demonstration was to a blind person. The experience quashed my irrational dream of being an instant success at selling books, though.


Curtis said...

Believe it or not, I sold encyclopedia sets door to door once. The job lasted for just two weeks. I never sold one set.

Sue said...

I can believe that. Down South, in the Bible belt, it is more like shooting fish in a barrel. Isn't just the worst job? Thanks for commenting.