Tuesday was one if these lonely afternoons were I cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed the carpet, worked on my cookbook project, and prepared some rather soupy homemade macaroni and cheese. I put a in a movie to play in the background, and when I had a free moment I could stop and watch. It was during one of these slow moments when a knock came to the door. I answered. It was door-to-door salesmen. Smart door-to-door salesmen.
And when I say smart I don’t mean it in the sense that they were knowledgeable about their product, or highly educated. What I meant was crafty. I have a no soliciting sign on my door. It is not faded like the house numbers or smudged or handwritten. It is an official laminated plaque with bolded words, and for the illiterate there is a picture of a little man with a briefcase circled and crossed out. Yet I’ve had three sales representatives come to my door in the four months I lived here, and they all try the same trick.[knock knock] I open the door. The sales people smile. “I’m so sorry,” they say. “I didn’t see your sign.” Thinking of dear Bill Engvall I resist saying, “That makes two of us.” Instead I give them some nonchalant words to excuse their grievous error but before I can finish my sentence a flyer is shoved into my hands. “But you can take this if you want and, I mean, if you don’t want it you can give it to a friend. Hey what kind of cable service do you got?” I open my mouth to reply but—“because we’re here on behalf of DirectTV and we’d love to hook you up with a greater deal than whatever your paying.” I tell him we are paying nothing, that we don’t have television, and if he can give us a better deal than free, like a monthly check to take his services, I’d sign up. They look a little nervous, I bid them good day, and I shut the door.
No kidding, I think they are teaching this method in annoying sales people schools, which apparently Comcast and DirectTV and all-purpose cleaner companies require all their employees to attend. The teacher stands in front of a class, re-slicks his comb-over, and leans forward. “Class,” he hollers. “I’m going to give you the trick to successfully working your way around a ‘no soliciting sign’.” The students lean in, anticipation dripping from their open mouths. The instructor hitches up his pants “The key is to walk up to a door and ring the doorbell as fast as humanly possible, then look around to see if there’s a sign. If there is one you can’t leave because you already rang the doorbell and doorbell ditching is rude. So wait till they answer the door. Apologize for not seeing the sign, and before they have time say goodbye you throw out a pitch faster than Billy Mays.”
Now, I’ve fallen for this three times and I think I know what my problem is. I have two actually. The first is I keep answering the door. In my defense, I’m new in the ward, I still don’t know a lot of people, and unless these men have matching shirts and logos plastered to ball caps, which none of them have, looking out my window I can’t tell salesmen from home teachers. So I just keep answering the door.
The second problem I have is I’m a girl and an English enthusiast which means in the simplest terms: I can’t say anything in just two words. If my husband answered the door and the salesmen apologize for not seeing the sign he would say, “Okay, bye.” And he’d shut the door. But I don’t do that! They apologize and it’s like I have this need to put their guilt to ease or it is transferred to me somehow. So I say something like this: “Oh, guys! It’s okay. I know how that feels because this one time I was trying to raise money for the school band and I went to this house to ask if they wanted to pledge for a carwash and they had a sign and I didn’t realize and I just started shaking because I didn’t know what to do. . .” And I my mouth just won’t stop. This gives them plenty of time for flyer shoving and an interruption followed by the beginnings of a pitch.
I’m caught in this vicious cycle that will never end because I can’t just stop being a girl, and I can’t change my prose-like mindset. I suppose I should just make peace with the idea that I will argue with door-to-door salesmen for the rest of my life.