May 2006 – Door to door sales

This story happened sometime in 2006, but I can’t remember the exact date, so I’m putting it in May.

Being an English speaking gaijin has its advantages when it comes to salespeople. I always answer the phone in English, so telemarketers quickly hang up. Door to door sales people usually take one look at me, apologize, and then proceed to the next apartment. However, one day I got a very persistent guy who was up for a challenge.

I was getting ready for work when I got a knock on the door. I greeted the well dressed young man who started asking about our stove. I had no idea that he was a salesman, instead thinking he was someone from our apartment building. I brought him in and took him to the kitchen, apologizing for our usual mess in broken Japanese.

He started telling me something about the range hood over the stove, pulling out the filter and showing me how dirty it was. I still believed that he was someone from our apartment building who heard about how poorly Azeroth and I took care of house cleaning. I understood about 50% of what he was saying, so I agreed that the filter was in fact dirty.

At this point he pulled out a catalog of fancy looking filters and filter systems. I suddenly realized two things:

  1. This was a salesman
  2. There is a surprising amount of variety in the world of air filters

Before he could start getting fully into his sales pitch, I tried my best to communicate that I was a NOVA teacher, this was a company apartment, NOVA could spend money on the apartment but I couldn’t. What I lacked in vocabulary I made up for in hand gestures. Eventually he understood and apologized as he started to leave. I also apologized for the confusion, and he apologized for not being able to speak English. I then apologized for not being able to speak Japanese better. It was a ridiculous situation.

I told Azeroth about this later over beer. He stated that answering the door in English and “forgetting” Japanese was one of the best ways to get rid of salespeople quickly. He also said that he rarely answers the door when he’s not expecting someone, which completely solves the problem as well. I made a mental note to never leave home without keys or my cell phone.

What I really want to know is: does anyone in any country actually buy things from door to door salespeople?

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