Dearth of a Salesman

There’s a lot to be said for being coerced by one’s children into peddling foodstuffs, gewgaws, and other flotsam on behalf of any and all organizations with which said child has come into contact. A lot to be said, indeed. But none of it is good.

Mind you, I realize the Cub Scouts, PTA, local athletic leagues and so forth need fundage to function, but I loathe selling things. I get queasy asking people to do something they likely don’t want to do, like cough up $15 for a festive bow collection. If Hades awaits me after I expire, the proprietor down below will surely present me with a stack of heating pads and force me to go door to door peddling them for all eternity with the promise that I’ll earn a week’s vacation to The Better Place if I sell $1,000 worth.

In my current earthly pursuit, my son Beaster has demanded that I help him unload enough popcorn, candy, and trinkets for him to qualify for a gift certificate he can use to buy a video game system.

“Sell popcorn today!” he commanded as I left for work one morning.

“Yes, sir!” I replied.

My office is fertile ground for sales because the other parents there understand my plight. We buy each other’s stuff, but I’m still sheepish when it’s my turn to hit them up. Each year, I cravenly attempt to absolve myself by e-mailing an apologetic sales pitch to everyone in the office.

My pitches go something like this:

“Good day! My boy’s soccer coach compels me to offer you this one-time-only-for-now offer of name brand sweetmeats available to the recoiling general public for the low, low discount price of one dollar. That’s right. One gently-crinkled, mildly-defaced, grinnin’ George Washington! 

You too can walk away shaking your head in disgust with a succulent, partially-melted confection in your twitching hand. Don’t settle for cheap imitations like the ones that stick to your heel in the subway! These are the real deal from such justly renowned confectioners as Union Carbide, Georgia Pacific, DuPont, and Weyerhauser.

“Who in their right mind could resist? You’ll toss and turn tonight in the warm knowledge that all proceeds go toward buying my son’s third grade teacher a new set of patio furniture. So if you’re looking to be rid of that annoying tooth enamel that makes you such an embarrassment in polite social situations, you know the number to call. However, I regret to inform you that failure to act now will leave the good Cub Scouts of Den 12 no choice but to let the air out of your tires.”

I’ve actually sold enough stuff in the past to make Beaster believe that the gift certificate is attainable. I’ve even peddled a box of caramel chocolates and two votive candle holders.

Perhaps a future in marketing is ahead of me. I hope not.

This essay appears in my collection of Gannett humor columns “The Goose in the Bathroom: Stirring Tales of Family Life” available in print and ebook from Amazon. You can peruse other samples here:

Government’s Greasy Fingerprints

Father’s Day, Pondly Remembered

The Tale of the Dreaded Can of Apricots