I’ve gotten it all set up: ironing board, iron, and starch. While my daughter naps, I can quickly iron the pants that I will wear tomorrow for work. My task is interrupted by a loud, melodic knock at the door. Our doorbell is broken, so I have attached a sticky note above it that reads, “Doorbell broken.” I didn’t include the phrase, “please knock,” perhaps as a futile attempt to discourage solicitors.
Hesitantly, and with my pants draped on my arm, I look through the peephole; a professionally dressed man is standing there-I know he’s a salesman. But, he is waving his arms right at me making me wonder if this peephole is doing its job. To avoid another knock that has the potential and almost certainty of waking my daughter, I open the door.
My face and my foot bracing the inside of the door for protection (I have heard the urban tales of intrusion) communicate something to this man because suddenly he is producing a paper from the local police department indicating that he has acquired the appropriate forms which allow him to interrupt my chores. His permit is worn and the folds have eaten away at the laser ink. How many times has he done this?
I knew right away what he would state. At this residence and my last, I have had many representatives from his organization arrive at my doorstep. They always open with the same line, “Are you the queen of the castle or the princess of the palace?” I have often wondered what someone would utter if a male answered, “Are you the king of the court? The ruler of the throne?”
He begins to tell me, as the others have, that his company is not selling anything. They are an organization that aids those who are trying to get a second chance at life. In my mind, everyone experiences this at least once, so their membership, I suppose, would include me. But I don’t interrupt with such analysis, not at this point anyway.
His “presentation” continues. Since this organization just couldn’t go around and ask for donations (although to me it would be a more forthright strategy), they sell magazines. Inevitably, the funds from these periodicals assist those getting a second chance. His response is so odd because regardless of his rhetoric he is peddling magazines, charitable organization or not.
“I don’t need any magazines,” I respond without emotion. Oh, he reassures me, he doesn’t even read magazines, he doesn’t care about them. They are merely given as a token of appreciation for helping someone who wants to better themselves. Wait, I think to myself, so I am just donating to your organization? He quickly continues as if to move to on the next point so I can’t process the contradiction. He offers what I know he believes is a tough statement to refute. “Don’t you think that is commendable behavior? Someone trying to better his life? Twenty dollars is all we ask,” he reasons.
Inwardly, I laugh. He believes that since I live in a house with pretty flowers welcoming him on the porch that I have money to spare. I have a tight budget that just had an unexpected expense of forty dollars towards a dandruff shampoo prescribed to me by my dermatologist. According to my insurance company, the prescription is non-formulary, whatever that means. Pleasantly, I tell him I am not interested and gently shut the door. I am walking back toward my task debating the whether or not a dry, flaky scalp is more important than a second chance.
I have gotten more vigilant over time, and I don’t even allow these solicitors to get to the part where they want you to evaluate their communication skills (sales pitch) for their superiors, so the individual can gain extra points for some reward. However, your evaluation will not count unless you donate, er, buy the magazines.
Not even before I get back to my ironing board do I hear my daughter calling, “Mommy” from her room. This queen is not very happy at the thought of reuniting with her princess one hour earlier than usual.