traveling salesmen

door-to-door in the online age

I miss door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen. I remember them as late as the early eighties, when I lived in a village of 1300 people, and traveling salesman was still a valid profession. They'd come by on weekend afternoons. Usually my parents wouldn't let them inside, and they'd make their pitch through the screen door. They always wore suits, except for the occasional college student selling magazine subscriptions. One guy stood in our dining room and basically made us feel that his life would be over if we didn't agree to a year's worth of Chatelaine. It felt like a low-rent version of Glengarry Glen Ross, complete with the damp-armpit stink of desperation.

Do they exist anymore? I can't imagine someone knocking on doors in this day and age to peddle vacuum cleaners or the World Book Encyclopedia. There must be places in the world where traveling salesman still roam the streets. Savage, backward places, where civilization is a paper-thin skin over pure atavism and chaos. Places like South Dakota.

What I'd really like to see is a door-to-door Wikipedia salesman. He'd sell you a set of blank books for sale with a fancy pen. 'You can fill it in on any subject you like. A bunch of nerds will show up to edit your entries, delete the ones they don't like, and argue with you about the use of shivs in The Chronicles of Riddick! Whaddya say?'