alexr_rwx: (Default)
2016-01-18 09:05 pm

how do we fix this?

There's a repeating scene that happens at our house. The doorbell rings, and at the door is a youngish man, typically Black or sometimes Latino, and he's dressed in a suit or sometimes a baseball uniform. Selling magazine or newspaper subscriptions. And he's got a patter down; he says he knows that you don't need magazines or a newspaper on paper anymore, but won't you help him get commissions for selling them?

Today it was a guy saying he'd come from Valdosta, Georgia, and he wants to show his young son that he can *be somebody* by selling magazine subscriptions and *becoming a manager*. Sometimes it's a kid who wants to Get Money For College. Or the kid in the baseball uniform helpfully informs you that their motto is "accountability and responsibility now -- drugs and gangs never!!"

It's really super sad that this is happening, for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, there should be good actual jobs in the world. Door-to-door magazine subscription sales has got to be all kinds of demoralizing. And demeaning. The racism inherent here is palpable; there's a script that these guys have to go through to ensure you, the person opening the door of a house in an affluent neighborhood in Silicon Valley, that they're one of the Good Ones.

One step out from that, it's all kinds of disgusting that dying media companies are exploiting under-employed people to prop up print media sales. I wonder whether this moves the needle for their subscription numbers. Maybe it's not the media companies themselves, but some smaller operators who've discovered they can do something that looks like charity for profits. Operating costs have got to be tiny.

What to do in the short term? What to do in the long run? I mean, clearly in the long run we need to head towards a more equitable and just society where people aren't forced to do stuff like this.

In the short term, of course, I don't need more sheets of paper being mailed to the house.

I have a problem: both physical mail -- not mail carriers -- and people knocking on the door really upset me. My goal, when someone knocks on the door, is to sneak up behind them. Ideally I'd be mysteriously on the front walk directly behind them with a scowl on my face and a steaming hot cup of coffee in hand, steam on my glasses. "Can I help you?" I'm actually a very nice person usually.