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U3A Writing: The Vacuum Cleaner

This vacuum is made of the same material as a United States space craft…and costs nearly as much as one... Mike Smark tells a story of a pushy salesman.

As the saying goes, there1 s no such thing as a free lunch. I can't stand salesmen anyway so I really don't know why I agreed to the demonstration. Well I suppose I do know: we had been thinking about having the carpets dry-cleaned and when the offer for free dry-cleaning of one room came along, I agreed begrudgingly.

I looked at the salesman as one might look at a lower form of life as he busily unpacked box after box and started to assemble the mysterious object. Typical salesman I thought: hair too long and slick and a suit that looked as though he had been sleeping in it.

Suddenly he snapped the top half to the bottom half and stood back to let me admire it. "What do you think of it Mr Jackson?" he said.

"If s a vacuum cleaner!" I replied. It was actually the most beautiful, impressive looking vacuum cleaner I had ever seen but I was not going to give him the satisfaction. An upright vacuum cleaner with the bottom half shining brightly in chrome. And, do you know, it had a light at the front? I couldn't work out why a vacuum cleaner would need a light but I was very impressed. Perhaps you could vacuum at night with the house lights out.

"But what do you think of it?" he persisted.

"Well it looks alright; does it work?"

The salesman looked at me strangely before proceeding to page one of the demonstration manual.

"It's possibly the best vacuum cleaner in the world and you will no doubt be interested to know that it's made of the same material as US spacecraft."

Now if there's anything worse than a salesman, it's a salesman running through a demonstration manual page by page. And asking what I think of it at the end of each page. I needed a diversion.

"How much is it worth?" I interrupted. At least I thought I asked the question. He continued with his sales pitch as though I had not spoken. He had just reached the top of page five where the manual suggested this was the most effective vacuum cleaner in the world.

"I said, how much is it worth?"

"We'll come to the price later Mr Jackson, first I want you to appreciate just how good this unit is and how it will make your whole life easier in the future.

Now if there's anything I hate more than a salesman, it's a salesman that does not answer questions.

"Mr Roger's, I have asked about the price of the cleaner twice now and I would like you to answer me before we go any further. I have a perfectly good vacuum cleaner already and this one looks fairly pricey to me."

The salesman glared at me and closed the demonstration manual. This was one very difficult customer. "With attachments it is priced at $3500.00 but I want you to think about what it can do for you rather than the price."

"$3500.00? You've got to be joking, that's more than my car is worth!"

"Yes but your car can't vacuum, sand floors or dry clean carpets!"

"I can drive it to the shops though. Can you drive the vacuum cleaner around? You should be able to at that price!"

Opening his demonstration manual again the salesman proceeded to give me a demonstration of how well the unit vacuumed. I had to admit - to myself, of course - that it was very effective, far better than our old cleaner.

"What do you think of that?' the salesman asked smugly.

"Not bad, it does seem to vacuum OK." No sense in building up his hopes too much.

We then went into the bedroom and he continued the demonstration. Moving all the bedclothes back from one corner, he placed the bottom half of the unit on the mattress and turned it on. The machine vibrated up and down on the mattress and it looked rude. It looked as though the vacuum cleaner was having sex with the mattress. "What do you think of that?"

The machine did such a good job, I had to restrain myself from asking for the whole mattress to be cleaned. Oh well, at least my feet will be free of dust mites.

When we returned to the lounge room, the salesman must have decided he had a sale because he started to fill in the order form until I told him I wasn't interested in buying it. Things quickly became fairly heated then. After I told him there was no way I would pay $3500.00 for any vacuum cleaner, he started to become quite angry and finally suggested caustically that if I was happy to live and sleep in filthy conditions, I had no need of his vacuum cleaner.

"That’s it. The demonstration is over. I've given you the chance to demonstrate the unit, I've watched it work and I have decided not to buy it."

I thought the salesman could have retreated more gracefully than he did. He packed the unit roughly back into the boxes and actually threw parts across the room into boxes. Fortunately the unit was designed to go to the Moon!
As he carried box after box to his car, I had some satisfaction in seeing that the vacuum cleaner was worth more than his car and, as he put the last box into the car, I yelled, "Do you realise I could buy thirty-five new vacuum cleaners for the same price as yours?" One up to the customer, I thought.
As he started the car and drove off, he yelled something in return and although I could not quite hear him, I think he was telling me what to do with thirty-five vacuum cleaners.
Well I thought the demonstration went fairly well and felt on top of the world for a few minutes. But then I realised in dismay, that I didn't have my room dry-cleaned free!

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