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The Jungle of Magazine Subscriptions

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Today's Times reveals the hellish life of a traveling magazine crews — you know, those kids who go door to door selling subscriptions to Reader's Digest and Rolling Stone "to earn points for a foreign trip." The sellers, mostly troubled teens trying to escape gang life, are wheeled from town to town in vans and given less than $10 a day in food allowance, their wages held hostage for later payment that may never come. At the end of a ten- to fourteen-hour shift, they're dumped in fleabag motels — the day's lowest seller sleeps on the floor — where they kill time ingesting industrial quantities of crystal meth and rutting like rabbits. If that is sounding in any way appealing, there's also this: Crew managers also administer savage beatings.