The Wanderlust Lady and the Door to Door Salesman - 2
August 10, 2012
I'm 20 years old - and live on my own, having left my mother and
step-father years ago, and having been in and out of work during the
four years since I finished with school. But this time, maybe my luck
has turned for the better. I answered an advert - only last week it was -
and was interviewed for a job selling household goods door to door.
The lady who interviewed me didn't even seem to care about why I'd
left all the other jobs I'd had in the last four years. The interview,
which took place in the library at Hyde, where I live, only took
twenty minutes or so. This lady, who introduced herself - but I never
remember people's names - said the job involved taking a bag of
items - such as ironing board covers, tea towels, window cleaning
pads, clothes pegs - around to houses in a particular area. She chose the
area and the job was to sell as much as you could in your territory each
day. Her van driver would pick up the salesmen from outside the
library each morning at 9 - deliver them to the town they were
covering that day - and then pick them up from the drop off point -
usually the library in the chosen town - and bring them back to Hyde each
evening. When I asked about the pay she said it depended on how
much I sold. “All the goods have quite a hefty mark-up - and that's
how both you and I will make our money - by convincing people that
our products are worth paying the bit extra for. So for instance," she'd
said, "a pack of two tea towels costs £5. I get them for less than half
that amount. But if you sell it, you'll get 40% of the amount you
collect. Each evening when the van driver comes to take you back to
Hyde, you need to give him the cash you've collected - along with a
note of what you've sold. He'll then give you back your 40% cut. So
say you sold £100 worth of stuff, you would get £40. Not bad for a
I agreed that it sounded like a good deal. She told me that each
seller had a identity badge they wore around their neck - and had to
explain to the householders that they didn't want charity. They wanted
to earn their money by doing honest work. And she gave me a list of
the items the company sold and told me to memorise how much
everything cost. "I hope you can give change," she added. "How are
you on simple maths?"
"Okay," I said without hesitation, although I wouldn't have liked her
to have quizzed me on that.
"Well, I'll give you a go, so be here outside the library at 9 on
Monday, and Walter'll pick you up."
“Where will we be going to sell stuff?"
"We're doing Marple at the moment," she said. "I should think there
are few more weeks before we've covered it."
So now a week had gone by. Each day I got collected, along with
four or five other men of various ages. We didn't talk much while we
rode the 20 minutes to Marple. Each was handed out a list, with a map
of Marple, when they picked up their bags. Walter didn't talk much
I found it hard to knock on strangers' doors. I found that most of the
women who answered were aggressive and not at all interested in what
I had to sell - no doubt having been approached many times in the past
by other sales people. But I'd managed to sell something each day -
usually between £40 and £50 worth - so my cut was usually at least
£20 a day - enough to get a decent meal and save a bit towards my
rent. I have a single room in a house in a fairly rough area of Hyde, but
I don't need much - just a place to kip and keep the few clothes I own.
But now today, when I got back to the library in Marple, Walter
wasn't there, but another white van was - and I recognised the lady
driver as the one who'd interviewed me. "Get in," she said, and so I
did, and she drove off - with only me in the back of the van.