Miller, Arthur (Book Club Edition, Viking, 1949; ISBN (1958 edition) 9786700003299)
Timeworn novels and films have left many of us with the rather outdated image of the door-to-door salesperson as a fast-talking cracker in a suit carrying a vacuum cleaner. “Pardon me, madam. I’ve come from Suction King to demonstrate the unmatched effectiveness of our affordable new Super-Vac, which retails for just 29.99”.
In contrast, the solemn modern energy vendor turns up to your door in shirtsleeves. Sometimes he has a speechless trainee with him who just watches as he runs through his routine. He never looks older than twenty-five. More often than not, he confers the impression of having held the job himself for less than a month. He seems uneasy. You’d swap over to his syndicate out of simple sympathy, but he opens his spiel by telling you that he’s come because they’ve discovered that your energy retailer overcharges you for electricity. As if they’d detected an emergency up at Electricity Headquarters and dispatched him to respond to it. “My God, a household in Clayton overpays for its electricity. Send our best man at once.”
If you interrupt to ask if he wants to sell you an energy plan, he may even deny it. What does he get from so oblique an approach?