Yesterday when I was almost about to doze off for a few minutes while the kids were watching something educational on Noggin, a girl banged on my kitchen door and spoke in a friendly and rapid manner so well that all I heard was "free carpet cleaning" and I was completely under her spell.

A little while later, after she’d made a phone call to someone roaming the street in a van and then left to bang on other doors, a gray van pulled up in front of the house, a guy got out and opened the back doors and pulled out a few boxes.

Ah.  Duh.  Free carpet cleaning WITH DEMO.  Oh well, whatever.  Free carpet cleaning, after all.  So I let him in the back door and showed him the carpet in the basement.  The kids were sitting on the couch watching something educational about sea creatures…I think one of the creatures was something called a "Sponge Bob," whatever that is…but when the guy with the boxes came downstairs, they were ready for some new entertainment.

I went upstairs to shut the back door, which I’d forgotten to do when I let the guy in, and as I ran up the stairs I heard Julia, my timid and reclusive child, say "You have dark ears!"  He laughed and said "Yep, and the rest of me’s dark, too!" 

He was actually a very nice, polite guy who told me he’s got a wife and two daughters – one’s five, one’s eighteen months – back home in NH.  The Kirby sales force goes on selling field trips about three times a year to other states – each trip is for about a month at a time.  Yikes.  Not the life for me, but he said he really loved his job.  I don’t know if that was somehow part of the sales pitch, but he really seemed pretty genuine. 

Years ago we agreed to a free demo by a water filtration system company (for which we were to receive a case of orange juice, so initially we thought it would be worth it), and the woman who held us hostage did the demo was horrid.  At some point during the torture, I stopped being polite.  I just wanted her to finish up and go.  She had this annoying habit of saying a little something and then turning on a gaudy three hundred kilowatt smile that wasn’t the least bit happy or friendly or benevolent.  It was a hungry shark smile, and she had visions of commission checks dancing in her head.  She very nearly stepped across a line when she said something about us willingly bathing our son in poluted water (from the unfiltered tap in the tub) – in a guilt-inducing "you’re pouring raw sewage on your year-old child" kind of way.  She didn’t CROSS the line, or I’d be blogging from a prison.  But she stepped right up to it and dangled her toe on the other side.  The best part was when she knew she’d lost us but had to continue on with her presentation because it was her job.  We just glared at her while she flipped through her ring binder with filtration information and flashed her slightly dimmer smile at us out of habit.  The best part was when she called her boss to report that "They aren’t interested in improving the quality of the water they use" or something like that.  HAHAHA.  Like we’re suddenly going to realize we’re terrible and irresponsible parents, letting our son bathe in filth and doing our dishes in water that has a mineral or two in it.  Just give us our juice and be on your way, shark lady. 

Anyway – this guy with the Kirby all-in-one vacuum/carpet cleaner/hardwood cleaner/air filter/chimney cleaner/sink unclogger/dishwasher and diaper changer – he was nothing like smiley shark lady.  So I listened to his sales pitch, and he actually sounded pretty sincere and not pushy at all.  Like we were just hanging out waiting for a bus, and he was telling me about his vacuum cleaner/carpet cleaner.  Just because he was excited about it. 

Anyway, he got on with his job and I sent the kids out to play (and to leave him alone).  Julia had had a couple unpleasant bouts of diarrhea earlier and wasn’t her entirely happy self, but that seemed to change when the sales guy showed up.  So she and Alex played out there for a while, and when they came in, the carpet had been vacuumed twice (once with ours and then once with the Kirby – just so he could show me how much dirt my old (it’s around 20) vacuum cleaner leaves behind and how fabulously the Kirby dirt sucking action is – and then spots were pre-treated and then the whole carpet was doused with cleaner and he was letting that soak in for a few minutes before letting the Kirby loose to slurp it all back up again.

He spent a lot of time and did a great job.  When he finished up, the kids and I were in the living room and Alex was reading to us from a little book they put together in his kindergarten class.  They’re working on rhyming words, and families of words that end the same, like the "an" family – dan, can, man, fan, etc.  So he was reading from the book and Julia was half listening, half trying to distract him.  I was listening and trying to keep her from pissing Alex off.  I really didn’t want to have to break up a fight while there was a stranger in the house.

He came up the stairs with the tray that catches the dirty, gunky water and debris from the carpet cleaning process, and he headed into the bathroom to dump it down the toilet. 

Bored with Alex and his book, Julia followed the more interesting, dark-eared man to the bathroom to see what he was up to.  She stood in the doorway for a moment, just observing.

And then she said

"Guess what! I had the dropping poops today!"

There was a full second of complete and utter silence in my house, and then both the salesman and I burst out laughing.  For quite a while.  Thank goodness he has small kids, for one thing. 

And at least if he wasn’t going to get a commission from his visit, he got some entertainment out of it.

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