Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Door to Door Salesmanship

Today I had one of those door to door salespeople come to my door attempting to sell us 'educational' books. The exchange was so entertaining I just had to share it. Perhaps you've seen these people, they're college interns attempting to make a few bucks working for The Southwestern Company. The kids stay with a host family in a completely different place and peddle books all summer. The guy who showed up at our door's name was Tyler. Tyler from Nebraska. He was a nicely dressed, clean cut kid. I kinda felt sorry for him because I figured he worked for a scam outfit that cashes in on the naivete of their employees.

His first mistake was to try to enter my house. I think it's rude for a stranger to assume he/she can enter your home. He was probably hoping we had A/C, which we don't. It's been 102 degrees for the past 3 days, so I was out back watching my kids swim in their pool. I led him around the house to the back. Next he had to face Justice. Justice is no longer a cute, little puppy, but a rambunctious 70 pounder who's still learning manners. Justice is very protective, but Tyler passed his radar. We sit at the table on the back porch and Tyler begins his spiel; the one they must teach him at the Southwestern sales school. I politely listen.

"Are you the one who makes the decisions regarding education?" he asks. Isolationism.... I inform him that my husband and I make those decisions together. He goes on about how he'll only be in town today. Pressure attempt.... From there it gets downright laughable.

While this continues, I notice Tyler's 'list'. I'm getting even worse vibes about this company. Not only was it a listing of names and addresses, but their occupations. Public information is one thing, but it seemed like this company was stalking our town.

"Do you know Mrs. Brown? She teaches at the school." Of course I know her. She was the one who allowed Divine to read during math class and the reason I pulled her out of that school. Tyer alludes that teachers use his books as reference materials to help their students learn in a variety of ways, but never actually says whether Mrs. Brown actually bought the books. Not that it would matter; if she did it probably would have sent me running, but I was planning to do that anyway. I inform him my children attend a cyber school.

"I noticed that parents here are very involved in their children's education." Okay Tyler, don't patronize me. Your peer pressure tactic isn't working. I want him to cut to the chase, so I flat out ask him to show me the books. He whips out his condensed volume and flips to the math section, where he goes on about how confusing it is for students because of the way the texts are organized.

"Each chapter introduces a new concept, then the problems get harder, right?" I can't help myself anymore. "No, each chapter introduces a new concept on a basic level, has problems to correspond with the new concept, then each subsection introduces the next step to gradually increase difficulty with subsequent problems for students to practice in each subsection." I'm getting the idea that Southwestern's premise is that parents really aren't aware of their children's curriculum.

Tyler's next tactic is to show me how the books are designed go through high school and college. In other words, when my kids get into advanced math, I won't be able to help them anymore. Again, patronizing. What he doesn't know is that I'm married to the human calculator. Hubby loves math. He does nothing but math all day as an Estimator and Project Manager. Then he comes home to work on his continuing education classes in exciting (sarcasm here) subjects like Accounting (1&2), Advanced Algebra and Business Law.

Sensing he may have chosen the wrong subject material, Tyler shoots to English and Grammar. Now I'm really feeling sorry for him, since that was my major in college, as was education. He asks me if I know when to use a semi-colon or a comma. I answer in great detail. Poor guy, I'm probably the only person in town that has two grammar books sitting on her shelf, as well as an MLA. I feel bad for him because the company he works for assumes people are idiots. They assume parents don't have the motivation or desire to peer into their child's textbooks. For all Tyler's yammer about 'noticing parental involvement in their children's education', it's all a sham. His company assumes differently and uses that lip service to pressure people.

Divine is insanely curious (nosey), so she is nearby listening. As a last ditch effort Tyler shows her his book and asks her if she would use it to help her in school. Divine laughs. "No."

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