Sweaty door-to-door salesperson convinces woman to buy cookbooks when she even doesn't cook: 'I felt sorry for him'

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Why I Bought Cookbooks I Knew I'd Never Use

It was a hot summer day and a door-to-door salesperson caught up to me as I walked to my apartment. This salesperson, red-faced and sweating, tried to catch his breath as he asked me if I liked to cook. When I said no, he looked disappointed but soldiered on and asked if I would be interested in buying a cookbook. Even though I knew I would never use it, something about his determined sales pitch made me feel bad for him, so I ended up buying the cookbook.

Okay, I actually bought more than one cookbook. "I felt sorry for him," I told my husband later that day when he questioned the presence of several new cookbooks in our kitchen.

I hoped to get my money's worth by trying out a few recipes for my husband, but I never did.

It's Not Uncommon to Buy Something You'll Never Use

I'm not the only one who's ever bought something they knew they would never use. In fact, there's an entire industry built around selling products to people that will never be used. From gym memberships to storage units, there are plenty of people who are happy to take your money for a product or service you'll never use.

The key to success for these businesses is understanding human psychology. They know we are more likely to say yes to something when we feel an obligation or sense of guilt. They also know that we are sentimental creatures who often make purchases based on emotions rather than logic. That's why door-to-door salespeople target people who they think might have empathy for their situation.

Why I Feel Bad For Door-To-Door Salespeople

Door-to-door salespeople have a tough job. They're often working long hours in the hot sun or cold weather and facing rejection after rejection. It's no wonder that we sometimes cave and buy something we don't need just to make them go away.

In some cases, we might also feel like we are helping this person out by giving them a sale. Many door-to-door salespeople are actually independent contractors who work on commission. So, even though we might not need what they're selling, we feel good knowing that our purchase is helping them reach their goals.

The next time a door-to-door salesperson tries to sell you something you don't need, don't feel bad about saying no. Just remember that you're not the only one who's ever made an impulse purchase they regretted later.

I Hope That Ownership or Membership Might Inspire Action

Personally, I've entered into more contracts with fitness centers and tanning salons than I can count. Yet, I am neither fit nor tanned. It's like the situation with the cookbooks all over again.

When I buy a cookbook, I think it will inspire me to cook. When I join a gym, I think it will inspire me to get in shape.

I always expect buying something like a cookbook or signing up for a gym membership will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. I own a cookbook, therefore I cook. I bought a new pair of running shoes, therefore I run. Unfortunately, it never works out that way for me.

How about you? Comments are welcome.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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