The Weird And Wonderful World Of Door To Door Distribution

Shaun Parker asked:

I’ve been involved in door to door distribution for years now. You might say that I’m an expert on the subject – certainly nothing surprises me anymore. Like the time when a representative for a well-known political figure (who may one day have a hand in decision making that affect the future of the whole country) rang us up. The conversation went something like this:

Caller: Hello, do you deliver to central London?

Me: Of course – how can I help?

Caller: Well, I have 390,000 thousand leaflets that need delivering. Next week. Oh, and by the way, I’ve got about 400 boxes of the flyers here that I’ve taken off pallets so that I can fit them into my office, can you collect them tomorrow?

Me: *faints*.

Of course, we had to help him out. For all we knew, the poor bloke had been stuck in his office for days, surrounded by boxes. We had to let him out, it was nearly the weekend, and I didn’t want the blood of a malnourished politician on my hands.

Then there was the time that we had to undertake a sample distribution for a popular breakfast cereal. We were so excited, because up until that point, the only sample distribution we had been involved in was for cat food and tampons – here was something we could actually eat! We thought that it was fantastic for about a day – until we realised that having to market the product so intensely had the surprising effect of being extremely off putting. To this day, even the mention of the cereals name makes me sick to my stomach.

On the same subject, offering sample distribution for tampons wasn’t exactly the best experience of my life. Having to knock on people’s doors and ask big hulking men for ‘the lady of the house’ was bad enough. When they then replied, ‘She’s not in, you can deal with me’ it was excruciatingly embarrassing. I’ve never dealt with so many confused men before or since. And imagine having to carry around six tins of cat food to every home with a pet during one of the hottest summers on record.

I’ve had a distributor ring in to say that he could no longer continue working for us because he had been chased down the road by an animal. We thought that he meant a dog, but in actuality he had been harassed by an extremely large cockerel. On a less amusing note, many of our distributors over the years have been the victims of ‘doorstep amputations’. This is a very messy procedure, and usually involves a vicious dog and a finger left a few seconds too long in a letterbox. Sometimes the letterbox itself takes revenge, slamming shut before the unsuspecting distributor can remove his hand.

One of our distributors rang me only last week with a surprising story. She is an eccentric, hippy type, working for us in order to support her burgeoning career as a writer. She lives in a very expensive part of the country, and consequently never has any money. She informed me that she only has two pieces of furniture, a dining table and a bed – both about thirty years old. When I asked her what she sat on, she mentioned that she uses old boxes and left over leaflets from us, and fashions them into chairs. She is truly one of the strangest people that I have ever met.

Door to door distribution is a weird and wonderful world, and trust me, you need a good sense of humour and a sense of the strange to survive in it.

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