Saturday, June 03, 2006

Wanted: "No Solicitation" sign

We're a fairly small crew at Vyatta Galactic Headquarters and the office rarely has too many folks in it. Because we're pretty self-sufficient and we're a startup, we have not yet hired a receptionist or office manager. What that means is that when someone comes in our front door one or more of us invariably does the cubicle groundhog move to see who entered. 99% of the time that works great and the person who entered gets successfully shuffled off to their respective meeting, lunch, coffee or engineering lab.

However, more often than you might think, we get a salesperson entering our office - an actual person selling something door to door! In an office building! Every time this happens, I get a fuzzy flashback to two events in my childhood: 1) some man in a brown polyester suit pitching Encyclopedia Britannica to my parents and 2) some man in jeans and a white dress shirts with snaps demonstrating some vacuum cleaner to my mom. I have many fond memories using those encyclopedias (for our younger readers, this is an actual set of books you had to buy and not wikipedia) for my schoolwork and some humorous memories of the expression on my moms' face when the vacuum salesman showed us that the suction can really pick a penny off our floor. Needless to say, we did not get the vacuum but remarkably our carpets were always free of loose change....

Until the Vyatta office, I had somehow avoided door-to-door salespeople the intervening years between the vacuum salesman and now. Sure, I've had all sorts of folks come to my door to sell me something, but it was often to save the planet (I do live in California), elect some official, convert to some religious group (again, California) or sell me cookies. Now that I think about it, it's been some time since the Girl Scouts actually came to my door. Remarkably, I find myself buying cookies from them at a supermarket or from a co-worker. That's a good product - I actually seek them out or they come via a friend!

Back to the point - does anyone actually buy anything from a door-to-door salesperson? We've had the following items for sale walk through our door: sign makers, flower designers, direct mailing services, and other sundry items for sale. And, lucky me, when someone comes through our door they usually ask for the "person in charge" and I get to see a Vyattan (I just made up that word - like it?) smirking as they lead the Fuller Brush Man toward my cube. Just so you don't think I am cruel and don't want to buy anything, we don't have a place for signage (we're a suite in a multi-tenant building), our employees are mostly male and don't need flowers designed for them, and selling networking products via direct mail makes almost as much sense as trying to sell them door-to-door.

Wait - what was I thinking mocking this sales approach? We'll hire a battalion of folks to go door-to-door across the planet selling the Vyatta OFR! If it worked for aluminum siding it will work for the OFR! The product installs on any PC - there are lots of PCs in homes! Homes need siding! Homes with aluminum siding are connected to the Internet! I'm a genius!

Seriously, we need a "No Solicitation" sign. Perhaps before I blow our entire budget on the next generation of Hoover vacuum and Encyclopedia Britannica salespeople?!? I guess I'll go to the local hardware store and get one early next week....


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