The other afternoon, the doorbell rang, and standing on the front stoop was a young woman with a nose ring and a tongue stud who politely asked if I wanted a free carpet cleaning, since the company had a representative in my area right now. Normally I turn down these offers, but the effort required not to stare at her facial jewelry dulled my reaction time, and I found myself assenting. Fortunately I'd picked up the living room that morning and had even vacuumed, so the place was mostly presentable. And so I ended up having a demonstration of a Kirby vacuum cleaner -- very nice, very effective, very expensive.
The salesman calling on my area right now was a pro -- he knew his pitch, he knew his product, and he picked up enough clues from the house to know us a bit. He had a prime opening, as our twenty-year-old industrial vac with no attachments was sitting out. Frankly, I'm appalled by the amount of dirt that came out of the carpet I'd just vacuumed an hour earlier. There's no question my vacuum cleaner is not all that effective, though at least it picks up the obvious surface debris. But no matter how polished a salesman may be, I'm just not ready to drop upwards of $1000 on a vacuum cleaner.
I think that he realized early on that I wasn't a viable sales prospect. After changing out the demonstration filter, once again, the salesman asked, "What would your husband say if he came home to find that you'd bought this vacuum?"
"Well," I said, "He'd probably say, 'I thought you wanted a piano?'"
No arguing with that.
I was surprised at how sensitive I was to the image we presented the salesman. I wished that I'd swept the bread crusts off the kitchen floor, I wished that baby wasn't missing the top button off her dress, I wished that Noogs didn't have mud on her cheek from excavating the back yard. The occasion also served to highlight the differences between the big girls. Noogs was clambering all over the living room in her t-shirt and jeans, wanting to help the salesman and horsing around with vigor. Meanwhile, Babs changed her outfit several times and sashayed into the living room to model for us. She sat nicely on the couch during the shampooing, and Noogs wanted to get down in the suds and romp. Not to be left out, Baby demonstrated that she has reached the "mom good, strangers bad" stage and refused to be put down or looked at.
So now Baby sits on a thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed carpet, and my bank account remains undepleted. But I wish I didn't know how dirty my carpet really was. The sales presentation didn't convince me to buy that particular vacuum, but it did spur me on to serious thoughts of buying something newer and better than the red behemoth with the broken cord holder. I wonder if there are statistics comparing the the incidence of sales presentations of Kirby vacuums with the overall rate of vacuum sales?
One thing is even clearer than before: I hate carpet.