Memoirs: A ‘How To’ in Door-to-door

Door-to-door for Dummies

You’re 18 years old and living in Australia with one of your best mates. The stench rising from his feet is nothing less than woeful. The foot sweat, coaxed out by the sticky southern sun, has successfully embedded itself in the woven nylon of his Nike Blazers. His rejection of socks really is more than a hindrance. It’s a source of tension. The odour, entirely unpalatable, diffuses into every nook and cranny of your hostel room each morning and evening. And it’s all because he likes to let his feet ‘breathe’. Breathing: an interesting concept for feet if you’re not wearing flip flops, or ‘thongs’ as they call them in Australia. The bloody maniacs. Thankfully, it’s only the two of you who are exposed to this most malevolent of stinks every day.

After some of your finest millennial brown-nosing via email, the pair of you have finally blown the bloody doors off and landed the dream job. You’ve been given access to the inner sanctum of Australia itself. Finally, you’re door-to-door salesmen for one of the largest energy providers in the state of South Australia.

Following a fifteen-minute interview with an unkempt Briton named John, you’re officially ready to rip Australian energy a new one. Primed and ready to perform, you’re both baffled when you see that John, who looks like Austin Powers without the panache, seems to be married to a beautiful woman, whom you both agree he “doesn’t deserve”. He must have money or something. But not as much money as you’ll have after a few naughty sales

Every morning at work starts the same. An angry and sexually-charged Scottish lady named CJ scrawls motivational clichés onto a whiteboard in front of an exceptionally bland group of young people, who happen to be the sales team. It feels like being locked in a room of potatoes who’ve been dressed up in funny uniform and sent out to make money. One-by-one you go around in the big, misshapen circle of spuds and recite your ‘sales pitch’ for about half an hour until you’re given the all clear by CJ.

CJ, the marvellous woman who, while the dust settles in the pleasant afternoon, sends you all a motivational text. This text will generally say something along the lines of “KNOCK DOORS AND MAKE THOSE KNUCKLES BLEED”. There’s also your personal favourite, “RAPE AND PILLAGE! SELL SELL SELL!!!” Naturally, this second one really helps you get into the zone when you’re knocking on the doors of housewives with young families: “Hello there I’m Rory, I’m out on a fucking massive pillage of the local area! Excuse the blood on my knuckles”, etc.  Tell me that isn’t a guaranteed sale.

You’ve got to be a pretty weird guy to be good at this job. The foundation of success in this role is not leaving people’s homes when they ask you to. Knocking on the doors of people who automatically hate you is a pretty tragic process. What’s worse still is actually clinching that sale to make it all worthwhile.

As a normal person who can adequately decode non-verbal communication, when someone’s body language is telling you to fuck off and get off their property, your instinct tells you to do just that. But here, you become a quasi-autistic douchebag.

The friendliest of people, going above and beyond to be polite to the adolescent on their doorstep, might say:

“I’m very happy with my energy, thanks though!”

Well it serves them right for trying to be nice. This is your cue to become a petulant child:

“Well you can’t actually be happy with your energy as such – energy’s all the same, you should just be paying less. Can you please tell me exactly what you mean when you say you’re “happy” with your energy?”

You’re taught to do this, and it doesn’t feel great. If you do miraculously manage to get someone interested in your shitty offer – usually someone old and confused – sealing the deal is another game entirely. You’re invited into a charming old lady’s house. Shamanizing your inner brown-noser, you spout appeasing balderdash about Midsummer Murders for half an hour, slowly grooming your aged victim into the nightmare of slightly cheaper energy tariffs. Only to find that her daughter holds power of attorney, a legal cockblock which goes over your sweaty little head, scuppering the legality of any sale. You regret the Midsummer Murders chat.

Another time you’re ushered sheepishly into the home of a middle-eastern family. Leading you in is the 20-something daughter whose scowling dad doesn’t speak a word of English. Negotiations are positive in the hallway. So positive, in fact, that you’re shepherded to the floor of the living room to rest your arse beside the monolingual man. He seems keen enough on allowing you to spout your translated sales pitch. It’s important to mention that all verbal communication is, of course, mediated through the daughter. Meaning that reactions are both delayed and difficult to interpret.

As you place your weary behinds next to your two prospective clients, you both remove your shoes, gladly following etiquette. The malicious stench of your mate’s putrid feet snakes aggressively out to greet you, choking every orifice in the vicinity. This is, in fact, the only moment that doesn’t require third-party translation. Instead of following etiquette, you may as well have done a ‘dirty protest’ in the doorway. The man’s nostrils bunch, flaring as his eyes widen and redden with an appalled rage, settling on the soggy feet, the obvious source of the smell. This is followed by a series of shouts in Arabic, before you find yourselves being bundled out the house with a great deal of gusto. The stench will most likely linger for several days. It might’ve even snuck into the floorboards.

So, don’t bother letting your feet ‘breathe’ at work; suffocate them. They have horrible breath.

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