Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Letter to Kirby

Kirby Co.

1355 Central St.

Leominster, MA  01453

Dear Kirby,

On Monday evening, a representative from your store called to offer me a free rug cleaning. We’ve done this before, so I knew basically what to expect: a rep would clean one rug in my home, as long as I listened to the hard sell about your product.

As an extra incentive, if I was able to take the sudden cancellation for Tuesday evening, they would even clean two rugs for me. I was delighted, as the only rugs left in my home are one bedroom and the staircase. We scheduled for 7:00 pm Tuesday.

My children and I arrived home at 6:30 pm, in the middle of a very hard rain storm, to find the Kirby rep already waiting for us. She was indeed so eager to start that she pulled up our driveway before us, efficiently blocking my access to the garage. I had to ask her to back up so I could unload the kids.

When the rep finally came into the house, lugging a large briefcase and two Kirby boxes, the first thing my children and I noticed was that she reeked of cigarette smoke. For people with allergies (which, by the way, as part of the sales process, she also claimed to have), cigarette smoke is a big problem. My sons remained downstairs for the rest of the time, away from the smell.

We went upstairs, and she began to set up. We bonded lightly over the geeky movies on display in our DVD rack. I told her I’d seen the Kirby demo done before, and was fascinated by the white filters.

As she started to vacuum, we chatted about the cost of the unit. When I said that my husband would not like it because of the price, she said,

     “Why, what is he, Jewish?”


I paused before I slowly answered, “Yes, he is.”

She started to chuckle, and explained that she was only joking. She knew we were Jewish because my son had “that thing” (a Jewish star) on his t-shirt (and I realized later that I was wearing a fairly large star on my necklace, too).

She dug herself in a little deeper, by explaining how open she was to people of different faiths.

    “In fact, my brother actually married a woman of the Yiddish faith.”

The Yiddish faith?

By the time my daughter made an appearance in the doorway, I was not at all surprised to hear,

    “Is she Downs?”

No. My daughter IS a girl, a human, a child. She HAS Down syndrome.

But I knew my daughter could hold her own. In fact, she spent the next hour watching the rug being cleaned with great attention.

The woman kept having to stop the machine because her hand hurt, apparently from her Lyme disease. And I learned all about her need for an alarm so she could take her medicine, and how even with an alarm she often forgot to take her meds.

I started sharing the story on Facebook. One friend asked, “Why don’t you just kick her out?”

    Because I wanted her to clean my damn rug!

Which she did. And left the dirty filters on the dresser. With the dirt spilling over onto the dresser, and the items on the dresser.

And she did not even approach the staircase rug. Or mention it.

I don’t think anything she did was meant meanly or maliciously. I think she honestly did not know how completely inappropriate she was. Which is why I’m bothering to write to you, Kirby Co. Please provide your sales people with some sensitivity training. Appropriateness training.

Maybe a smoking cessation program would be good, too.


Francine Ferraro Rothkopf


DandG said...

Wow, just wow! Any response?