Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

An Alarming Thought

"The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity."

-George Carlin

Last year we owned a house in Texas and on a number of occasions were visited by door-to-door salesmen. One afternoon I greeted a man attempting to sell us a home security system for the protection of our house and possessions.
I was obliged to tell him that my Spouse would be home from work shortly and would talk to him upon returning. The man left after depositing his business card and expostulating about the need for such an alarm system.
I immediately spoke to my Spouse who called the salesman from work. It became clear very quickly that we could not afford the product he was offering but my Spouse latched onto another idea before terminating the call.
"Would we," enquired Spouse, "get one of those signs in the garden that announce to passers-by that 'This House is Protected By Such and Such Security?"
"Yes, yes you would," replied the salesman eagerly, desperately scrambling to keep us interested.
"Then," continued my quick-thinking Spouse, "what about this: the sign that says 'we are protected' is well known to be the most effective part of the whole operation. People will assume we have an alarm, which is a deterrent in itself. You proceed and put a sign on our lawn: you get free advertising and we get to ward off potential burglars at no cost to us. What do you think, Sir?"
The salesman was outraged at the suggestion and sadly did not warm to the idea at all.
We were in fact quite genuine about the matter, and we thought it was a mighty fine plan which would benefit everybody, especially considering that we were never going to buy the alarm, not being able to afford it. It was either that or nothing with us.
At best, the man thought we were strange; at worst I imagine he got the impression we were just not well at all.
After all, how on earth could a person, in good conscience, agree to advertise freely for a company? That would be a ludicrous and nonsensical thing to do, would it not? Surely the company should be paying for any advertising that promotes their business!
I am happy to declare that our entire home, including our clothing, backs up the above philosophy. You will not, I promise, find a T-shirt or pair of shoes, bumper sticker or handbag or anything that proudly announces in public that we drink this or wear that or eat the other thing.
If it seems foolish to agree to advertise for an alarm system company, well, at least that act would serve a purpose and has the power to do us some good. The same absolutely cannot be said for most clothing and items that are being sold in stores.
Nobody, nobody should be giving a company freely what it really ought to be paying money for.

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