Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where have all the vacuum cleaner salesmen gone?

I met my new neighbors yesterday. They came to tell me my goats were loose in their yard, which really didn’t bother them, but you could tell they were just being polite.

Goats seem adept at bringing diverse groups of people together, which is great if one of those groups consist of bikini-clad co-eds who are sharing a house together next to yours, but not so great when the group is a gang of biker thugs who look bent on grilling goat, and yours just happens to be loose and available.

Of course, my new neighbors are not biker thugs or bikini-clad coeds, but they’re new, which means – technically – I’m not!

I’ve been the new neighbor ever since I moved here 18 years ago. And since I came from “the big city,” that means I’m a “foreigner” as well. Everybody else in my neighborhood has lived here since the dawn of time. I doubt they even know my name. If I live in this house until the day I die I’m sure I’ll just be known as: “What was that guy’s name? Oh, well, it doesn’t matter anymore. See the Rangers play last night?”

But being a foreigner is not all that bad, especially if you compare it to being dead. Sure, you never quite understand the language and you never get the “inside jokes,” but it’s better than being stuck in a box, waiting to go to heaven, which is off limits to goat owners because we use a lot of potty-mouth words when we talk about our goats.

ST. PETER: Name.
ME: Tracy
ST. PETER: Occupation
ME: Teacher
ST. PETER: Good. Any pets?
ME: Goats
ST. PETER: Veto. Language skills not appropriate for Heaven.

Does St. Peter have veto power over a person’s life? I’m not sure. Still, I always get a little nervous when people start asking me personal questions. It means they’re about to categorize me as a “this” or a “that.” I should give them wrong answers, just to stir things up a bit, but I would never try that on St. Peter. He probably knows all the answers before he even asks the questions, and that would ruin all the fun. But those other people – the poll takers, the rule followers, the telemarketers and vacuum cleaner salesmen – they deserve to get what they get.

Ok, maybe not the vacuum cleaner salesmen. My vacuum cleaner is broken, there’s no way for it to be fixed, and I could really use one of those guys to stick his foot in my door and pressure me into buying an All-American Vacuum Cleaning System That is Guaranteed to Suck Up Cat Hair and Dirty Laundry Until The Day You Die, No Questions Asked.

Sure, I could go out to Wal-Mart and buy a vacuum on the cheap, but I miss the vacuum cleaner salesman, just like I miss the milkman and the ice cream truck man and the lady who went around selling Tupperware. The milkman is extinct in America, the ice cream truck guy doesn’t come out to my neighborhood because it’s not worth the trip, and the Tupperware lady is now selling Mary Kay – and the last thing I need is a bottle of Vanilla Sugar Satin Hands Hand Cream or Mary Kay Lash Lengthening Mascara.

Domino’s doesn’t even deliver to my neighborhood, but I don’t mind driving into town to pick up a pizza or two. It’s worth it.

Today, we believe we’re getting good service if the cashier smiles at us as we load our own groceries into the cart, but way back in the “good old days,” they actually took your groceries out to the car for you, and then loaded them in the back seat. The milkman delivered fresh milk to your door; the neighborhood kid came by once a week to see if you needed your lawn mowed; and the little girl down the street begged to walk your dog around the block for a couple of bucks.

And America is supposed to be better off with the loss of all these home-grown services?

If a vacuum cleaner salesman peddling his wares were to knock on my door next Tuesday, I’d buy a vacuum cleaner, no matter the price. And if he offered to walk my goats and mow my yard, I’d probably buy two.

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