By Geena Martinez
MIDLAND - A couple of European book salesmen in Midland are trying to set the record straight. They say they've been given a bad rap after rumors started flying on Facebook that they were up to no good.
Several NewsWest 9 viewers contacted our newsroom over the last few weeks with concerns that these book salesmen were too aggressive and looking for young kids.
Word quickly spread about them on Facebook and people even posted their pictures.
You may have seen them walking around your neighborhood or they may have even knocked on your door.
But since July, a couple of book salesman have been causing quite a stir in Midland.
"There's the famous picture of me," Kristians Paeglis said, pointing to a picture on his iPad.
The picture, along with several others, has been shared over and over on Facebook after residents questioned why the two were going door to door and asking if children were home.
Some were even fearful the guys were sexual predators, among other things.
"Some of the people think I might be a Russian spy gathering info around Midland, I don't even know about what," Kristians said.
But the students said they're actually part of an exchange program for European college students and they're working for a company called Southwestern Advantage.
"It's like educational books starting from one-year-old and all the way to the first year of college," Alexey said.
The students want to clear the air. They tell NewsWest 9 that asking which homes have children is just part of the sales pitch.
"I ask like pre-approach," Alexey said. "It's like a strategy to understand where is the families who have school age kids and who don't have just so we don't waste time to knock on older people's doors."
Residents also said the two were aggressive. But Kristians and Alexey said they were met with more hostility once the rumor started spreading.
"When I went away, I heard the door open and saw him taking a picture of me," Kristians said, referring to an incident with a homeowner. "It's not that we are really persistent and that we want to get in or we want to find out information. We just want to show them the books so they know we are not selling cats and dogs around here."
"It's frustrating because it's harder to work," Alexey said.
The students said they do leave when asked but they have the credentials to prove they're not a fraud. They were both issued door-to-door permits by the Midland Police Department and an application can be found on the Midland Police Department website.
"I showed my passport that I have a working Visa for the summer time and I'm allowed to work here and then they checked my background and gave me permit," Alexey said.
Kristians and Alexey said they don't mean any harm.
"We are just like everyone all around Midland and all around the USA," Kristians said. "We're just doing our jobs."
But even with a few setbacks, the two said their time in the Tall City is something they'll never forget.