Gray Flannel Dwarf

8/27/2007

talkin’ white-bread north carolina suburb blues

So the background on this one:

You know those kids who go around the neighborhoods in the summertime trying to sell magazine subscriptions, for college, or leadership training or something. It’s annoying as hell, but nothing new.

This one unfortunate kid was going around our neighborhood selling them the other day. Doubly unfortunate, I guess, in the sense that his sales pitch was horrible… and that he was a young black kid in a mostly-white neighborhood.

Someone made an initial posting to our community mailing list asking if anyone else had had an encounter with this kid. It wasn’t long before someone else had responded that he was in the process of being handcuffed.

And thus, my response to a question posed:

Yes, it was quite unnerving. We are installing a peep hole in our front door as a result! Does anyone know what they were charged with?

If the comments that about a dozen people have left in this thread are any indication, the guy was charged with being black.

Seriously folks, can we take an honest look at this? I am just as weary and annoyed by solicitors as the rest of you probably are. But who hasn’t ever seen kids going up and down the streets in the summertime selling magazine subscriptions for “leadership training”, or “raising money to go to college”, or whatever? This is nothing new, the program has been around for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen white kids, black kids, hispanic kids all involved in this program.

So this kid was trying to sell these magazines, and yes, his spiel was pretty bad. He certainly didn’t have the best sales pitch in the world. He got to the end of his speech, tried to sell me some magazines, and I told him I wasn’t interested. He thanked me and left.

So I can only imagine that someone called the cops on him because some black kid came around a white-bread neighborhood and looked different. The outcome? All anyone else sees is a post about an “arrest”, and the worst is automatically assumed.

I’m really trying to avoid being inflammatory, but this looks less like a case of “neighborhood watch” and more like a case of
“neighborhood WASP”. That people will probably, as a result, get defensive about this kid’s arrest, won’t surprise me either.

FYI, here’s the FTC’s advice regarding door-to-door magazine sales:

Door-to-door sales: Beware of emotional appeals by someone selling door-to-door. For example, the student selling magazine subscriptions using the appeal that your sale will help him/her get a college scholarship or other such rewards. If you buy from a door-to-door salesperson in your home, and the purchase is more than $25, you’re protected under the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule. The Rule gives you three days to cancel your order and receive a full refund. The seller must tell you that you have a right to cancel, and give you a summary of your cancellation rights and two copies of the cancellation form. Ask to see the required cancellation notice before you agree to buy. If the salesperson doesn’t have it, don’t place an order. The company is breaking the law.


Tags: , , — cswiii @ 9:07 am