I was in college. I needed money. Because college. And so I would pretty much do anything for it. I made pizzas until 3 am. I filed applications in the admissions office. I sang concerts and solos and hymns and valentine-o-grams. And once, for a few weeks in November and December, I was a door-to-door rollerskating Christmas tree salesman.
I suppose I wasn’t a salesman in the traditional sense. I was more of a marketer. My job, as laid out to me by the man who hired me, was to take a map, go to the highlighted area, and then personally deliver a flyer to every house. I was to knock on the door and speak to whomever was there about this wonderful new thing, and if no one was home, I could leave the flyer on the door. What I was selling was Christmas trees. This guy had a big truck and a lot of trees, and his plan was to have people order the trees ahead of time, and then he would then deliver them to their houses. This would save people a ton of time and hassle!
Speaking of saving time, it occurred to me that I would cover far more ground in a shorter amount of time if I skated the route, rather than slow, boring walking. So I grabbed my giant duffle bag full of gajillions of flyers, hopped on the DC Metro, and sped off to Northern Virginia. The land of milk, honey, and, now, door-to-door Christmas trees. My rollerblades were also in my duffle, and as soon as I got off the train I strapped them to my feet and took off like a magical bullet sleigh, bringing happiness and joy to all.
It only took me a couple of houses to realize that knocking on the door was not going to be an effective way to sell these things. All that zooming about had made me quite sweaty and out of breath, and the one or two people that had answered the door were not all that receptive to my panting sales pitch. So I gave up on that. Taping them to the doors it was! This was going to save me tons of time!
Getting to each one of these houses on my rollerblades, as I cut across lawns and tripped over rocks and bushes, was no easy task. I started to wonder if the skating had been such a good idea. When I slipped into a storm drain and caught my rollerblade in it, I knew that this had all been a big mistake. Sitting down on the curb I pulled my foot out of its wheeled prison and then yanked away at my great idea until I finally got it out. Ok. New idea. I would skate to a street, take the blades off, put my sneakers back on, run up and down the street, come back and re-wheel myself so I could skate over to the next block. Brilliant!
This was a terrible idea. I spent more time taking the rollerblades off and putting them back on again than I gained from having them on at all. Eventually I gave up and just trudged my way through the now dark and chilly air, slapping flyers onto people’s doors and cursing the wind and sky. You see, I got paid by the flyer, not by the hour, so I was figuring to make upwards of $20/hour with my plan of speed skating through my route in record time. I think, after I went home half finished and had to go back more than once to get it all done, that I ended up making more like $3/hour, not including the metro fare I had to keep spending.
I never went back to work for that guy. That guy who drove around the neighborhood to ensure that my flyers where were I had said they were. That guy who drove right by me once, as I lay on the side of road exhausted and miserable, checking up on my work in his heated pick-up truck, cheerful Christmas music blaring from his speakers. No, once was enough for me to realize that I am just not a professional door-to-door rollerblading Christmas tree salesman at heart. But, like all of the stupid and terrible things I do in life, at least it makes for a good story.