From time to time, my childhood neighborhood would become ground zero for people going door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions. I vividly remember the high octane energy some of these individuals would bring when they knocked on the door. They would get me excited and suck me in, usually with a spiel about how they needed to sell subscriptions to earn points for a trip.
However, despite their enthusiasm, they never pulled off a sale. My parents always said no. They came mostly in the summer, usually during the day, when it was just my mom and the three of us kids at home. Thus, it was my mom turning them down.
Except for one day.
To be honest, I can’t remember if it was a Saturday or simply a day he took off, but on one particular late morning my dad was the one to open the door (with me trailing). My dad listened to what this man had to say but then declined the pitch. He followed with asking the gentleman not to come back. As the guy turned his back on us to walk away, he muttered “Oh, I’ll be back.”
My dad responded, “You do and I will call the cops.”
“Oh, I’ll be back,” the guy responded for the second time as he walked down our driveway.
Sure enough, two minutes later there was a cop car a few houses down from our house. A police officer was standing outside the vehicle talking with the man who was just at our house. The magazine salesman was escorted out of the neighborhood.
To be honest, I had not thought about that story until this past weekend. Probably 11 or 12 when it happened, I can’t remember ever coming into contact with another door-to-door magazine salesperson. Not again at my parents’ house and never in Montana or South Carolina. But on Friday night, Sidney and I were aimlessly browsing Netflix looking for a movie to watch. As I do quite often, I selected a film without really even reading the summary. On this evening I selected “American Honey.”
Over the course of the two hours and 45 minutes that the movie ran, I learned about the wacky and tough culture of the door-to-door magazine sales business. “American Honey” follows a group of 12 or so teens and young adults who travel across the country selling magazines. Although Shia LaBeouf stars, the other cast members were literally pulled off the streets by the director. I quickly became fascinated by the pressures and tactics employed by these magazine sales groups, both on potential customers and internally within the group.
Besides the interesting plot, the cinematography is also very interesting. The movie is shot in several different states and you can see that reflected when the gang moves on to different neighborhoods. Also, no words are needed to show the disparity in standard of living between the magazine salespeople and the homeowners they target. From a visual standpoint, it is very well done.
If you have time over the course of a couple evenings, I would recommend “American Honey.” It is something different but also something you might be able to connect with. Don’t Blink.