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Selling Victimhood

I just finished listening to the sales spiel of a young woman who is going door to door trying to get me and my neighbors to buy or renew a magazine subscription. Actually, she isn’t trying to sell the magazines. She is trying to sell her victimhood. You see she didn’t have all the opportunities she is sure I had. She is a poor, single mother of a two-year-old son and twin ten-month-old daughters. She is just trying to stay focused and keep her life on track. Won’t I please take an interest in her life and buy a magazine subscription. My neighbors took an interest in her life. She gets a 50% commission. Oh, please, please, please, won’t I just order a magazine?

She had nothing to say about the products I was supposedly buying. In fact, I didn’t even have to receive the magazine. I could buy a subscription for her benefit and donate the subscription to a women’s shelter.

I didn’t buy a magazine. She seemed stunned I couldn’t be guilted into a purchase. She recited all my neighbors’ names and told me how much they wanted to help her. I told her I wished her well, but I really did not want a magazine. She wished me a blessed day and proceeded to the house next door.

I appreciate that she is going door-to-door hawking magazines, trying to make ends meet. However, I would appreciate it much more if she were really selling magazines instead of trying to sell her hard luck story. She comes to my door with the expectation that because people in my neighborhood have the outward appearance of success, they owe her a donation. Sales is hard work. I know. I’ve done it. I sold Avon in high school. I worked in a shoe store. I’ve waitressed. It is tough starting on the bottom rung of the ladder. However, it is much tougher if you think you are on an escalator that is just going to lift you up instead of a ladder you have to climb.

Neither of my mother’s parents graduated from high school. They were Hispanic Americans born on the north side of the Rio Grande in South Texas. (Actually, their parents were also born in Texas. As far as I can tell, my family just happened to be living on the north side of the river when the border was drawn.) They were Spanish speaking Americans in an Anglo world with all the discrimination and hardships that entailed. But they were hard workers and pushed their daughters to be the same. They also kept their Faith. Both daughters graduated from high school. All five of their grandchildren went to college. One went on to medical school and one attended law school. No handouts. No government programs. No excuses for not taking advantage of educational opportunities. From the time each of us got on the bus for kindergarten, we knew we had a mission. We had to do well in school so we could go to college.

I hope this young woman can someday understand that going door-to-door pulling heartstrings isn’t a real job. Selling magazines is a job. I might buy a magazine someday. I don’t think I will ever be in the market for victimhood.

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