Nature Abhors a Vacuum [Cleaner Salesman] (Advice Column)

Ask Rosie



Roosevelt Ford Wallace

Dear Rosie:

Dade County has walked all over me and I didn't know where to turn.Then I noticed you had an advice column in The Planet and I thought you had a kind face (though the photo was fuzzy). Rosie, can you help me?

I make my living (or I try!) selling vacuum cleaners door to door. Door-to-door salesmen don't get the red-carpet treatment anywhere, but when I came to your area I really got the rug pulled out from under me!

First I was told I couldn't peddle in Dade without a business license. But when I applied for one, the county commission wouldn't give it to me, citing a bunch of complaints against my sales methods. Whoever said those awful things was lying like a rug!

So I protested it wasn't fair and what should happen next but I get called on the carpet by the Dade County sheriff? The sheriff said not only could I not get my license, if I tried to work in Dade County, he'd throw me in jail!

Rosie, we are talking about an honest trade, a whole class of workers, being banned from your county without due process of law. The good citizens of Dade should not let this injustice be swept under the carpet! --Feeling like a doormat in Dade

​​Dear Doormat: You sound like a nice man but I'm afraid you're barking up the wrong tree. It's not my photo that's fuzzy, it's me. I'm a German shepherd. (Mostly.) That means that vacuum cleaners are my ancestral enemies. Vacuum cleaners are very bad machines that have persecuted dogs for untold millennia.

The hollow howl of the vacuum cleaner strikes terror into the canine heart and there's a reason for that: You know those small models, the ones that look like bloated ticks just at the stage where they fall off you, except they've got elephant trunks? It is widely known that even the smallest can swallow a Great Dane whole.

As for the big upright ones, like we have at our house, they have been known to suck up entire breeds. I am the last of my family and I'm pretty sure the rest of them were subsumed by a Hoover.

As a lonely, big-pawed orphan, I took refuge in this house because it looked and smelled safe, with hairy carpets and inviting deposits of dust in every room. Little did I know that, biding its time in the hall closet, lurked the worst monster of them all, the insidious Er-Er Machine.

It's true that the lady who opens my Alpo cans is a slattern who seldom gets the vacuum cleaner out, but that only makes it hungrier and when it does escape it roars from room to room gobbling up everything in its path. There have been times I barely escaped with my life. On one occasion I was obliged to improvise a pet flap in the screen door.

My advice to you, Doormat, is to change jobs before the job changes you. You cannot hope to remain a decent person while selling something so invidious to civilized society. Vacuum cleaner salesmen are known to become depraved individuals, commonly imprisoned on serious charges. An unusually high percentage of them become child molesters. I have even heard ....

The Planet: Bad dog, Rosie!

All this is t​he most arrant nonsense, not fit for publication in Dade's most trusted news source. Honestly! Couldn't you just bark at salesmen like other dogs? You don't have to insult their mothers.

Charlene, the Small-Town Snoop: Salesmen ain't got no mothers. They hatch out of eggs in hot sand.­­­­

Sardo, Who Knows All, Tells All: Hold on just a dad-burned minute. I was a salesman for over 30 years!

Cheryl, the Goddess of Love: Like Charlene said.... But humor aside, you can see where Rosie got the idea vacuum cleaner salesmen were right up there with Hitler. Look at this handout Dade County provides with its business license application. It uses the example of a door-to-door salesman--a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman -- pretending to sell the same product as a local store at a fifth the price. "That peddler/solicitor will put the local businessman out of business!" it says.

Did zumbody zay mein name?

​​The handout goes on to imply the vacuum cleaner sold by the door-to-door salesman won't work and has bad parts and no guarantee. So it says the product is bad and it also gives you to understand, in no uncertain terms, that salesmen are bad. "The Dade County Commission wants to protect our citizens from this bad behavior caused by bad salesmen that just show up at your door to make a sale," it says. "Some of these people may very well be staking out your home to rob you." For heaven's sake! ​​


I sot I heard zumbody zay mein name.


Why, that's despicable! They're demonizing salesmen. Salesmanship is a particularly American quality. Salesmanship is what made America great.


Just vot I alvays zed: You are a nation uff shopkeepers!


We're a nation of shopkeepers that kicked your squirrelly ass to kingdom come, perve. What are you doing here anyway?


I sot I heard zumbody ...

Socrates: ο σκοπός αγιάζει τα μέσα.

​​Socrates, you've got it in one. The Dade County commissioners probably didn't mean to pick on vacuum cleaner salesmen particularly with their handout. They just wanted to defend their new business license ordinance and didn't have the sense to hire a decent writer (though I know a good one right on the spot, who could use the work...)

​​The fact is, though, the first thing they did after firing up the ordinance was to pick on a real vacuum cleaner salesman, not just denying him a license, not just threatening him to put him in jail, but bragging about it to the local media as if they'd just saved the county from a crazed serial killer.

Did somebody call me?

​​I know, Cheryl, and that worried me, too. So I did ask the county boss about that, whether it's legal to just ban door-to-door sales, period, in the county. He said under Georgia law, if you go to somebody's door without an invitation, you're trespassing; and if you don't leave when they ask you, they can in fact have you arrested.

​So the answer is yes, nature abhors a vacuum and Dade abhors a vacuum cleaner salesman? The county can institutionalize the mistreatment of salesmen in general, and vacuum cleaner salesmen in particular? Ban them, jail them, let Rosie insult their mothers?


I never said a word about his mother.


I agree with Rosie. Vacuum cleaner salesmen are totally, like, EVIL.


Who asked you, Charlie? Get lost!

I didn't even bite him.


Iss not too late, Hundchen! Bite! Bite! Bite!


You, too, Adolph. Why don't you go invade Poland or something?


Come with me, guys. I know a place under the porch we can slink off and lick our butts resentfully.


Oh, no. Somebody's feelings are hurt.

​​Well, it was supposed to be my advice column. Then all of you chime in like when you're ganging up on Dear Abby. What is this, the Dear Rosie Appeals Board?

I'm outta here!

​​Maybe we should have let Rosie have her way, guys. As the only person around here who seems to have a lick of sense, I hereby remind y'all that what you're so ready to fight and die for is the right of door-to-door salespeople TO BUG FOLKS TO DEATH. You got insomnia, go online and read yourselves to sleep on the complaints people make about this particular company the county was targeting, Kirby Vacuum. They prey on the elderly, they get you to buy on time and threaten you if you're late with the payments, they stay in your house demonstrating their products for three hours. ​​


είναι το καθαρό?


Hmm. Yeah, Socrates, maybe I'll let them in. This place could use a deep clean.


For three hours? Rosie would leave home for good! But maybe Charlene's right. We should pick our battles. ​

Agreed. The DADE PLANET is a fierce crusader for social justice, determined to COMFORT THE OPPRESSED and OPPRESS THE COMFORTABLE...

​But since Dade County ain't oppressing nobody we like much, we won't kick its ass this time. Hey, Doormat, you still there?


Yes, ma'am?


Hit the road. You're on your own.


And if you're hard up for work I've heard Amazon is looking for pickers. They've got a rep for killing people but at least nobody will arrest you.


Gee, thanks!


And if you're determined to sulk I understand there's a group under the porch licking their butts.

Why not join them? You'll be snug as a bug in a rug! NEXT?

Dear Rosie: I am a small but intrepid county at the center of the universe. I recently passed a business license requirement and everybody got mad at me! So I explained the reason I needed it was in order to pass a hotel-motel tax. But I don't have any hotels or motels so now all my friends are all laughing at me. Rosie, what can I ...


Sigh. Intrepid, I'm afraid Rosie has stepped out, and in any case we don't have enough time this week to deal with a complicated problem like yours.


And we're a little short on space up here, too. But if you'd like to wait, hon, I understand there's a comfortable place under the porch ...

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