Rico Anthony was 17 years old and facing eviction when a young woman selling magazines knocked on his door.
He faced a future of being jobless and moving in with his brother. Anthony had only one response when asked if he wanted a job — one that promised a life traveling the country, earning money and meeting new people while selling magazines.
It would be like MTV’s “Road Rules,” the seller told him.
“Hell yeah, I need a job,” he said. He packed three days’ worth of clothes and did not return for 10 years. The decade would be a dangerous one, filled with lies, drugs and violence.
But, according to many sources, that is the world of the door-to-door sales industry.
Anthony described a typical day on the job as routine. The crew would wake up in a small, cramped hotel room at 7 a.m. to meet with managers by 9 a.m.
The crews piled into vans and headed to college campuses and apartment complexes. Without permits, they attempted to sell magazine subscriptions.
“Most of the kids would lie,” Anthony said. “Let’s say you went to a college campus, most kids would say they were doing it for school or for a trip. There’s a lot of pressure.”
The vans would return five times a day so the managers could see the agents’ progress.
“If you got three sales or better, they’d tell you how much ‘the shit’ you are,” Anthony said. “If you didn’t get very many sales, you were in trouble.”
“Trouble” ranged from verbal abuse to physical beatings. Anthony said he saw agents being beaten by 12 men at once.
At the end of the day, the crews went to the hotel, where drugs and alcohol were common.
“A lot of kids want to leave,” Anthony said. “I wanted to leave. But once you’re on the road for so long, you kind of break ties with your family, and they make you believe this is going to be ‘the life.”’
Anthony said he saw crew members stranded on the side of the road, hours from the
While traveling through Texas, Anthony suffered broken ribs when he was in a car accident that killed two girls.
After about eight years, Anthony was promoted to manager. Suddenly, his life became even more difficult. He was responsible for not only his own actions, but also those of his crew.
Worst of all, Anthony said, he was now dishing out beatings at the request of his bosses.
“I regret a lot of stuff I did,” he said. “I’d become this monster. Lying to kids, telling them how good the job was, and it wasn’t a good job at all.”
Read the rest of this story at the Indiana Daily Student.