Knock Knock

May 10th, 2007

I live in a nice neighborhood. Not a fancy neighborhood, and certainly not a ritzy one, but a nice one. Lawns are tended, houses are tidy, and for the most part, everyone behaves. It’s a nice place to live.

Apparently it’s also a nice place to visit. On Halloween, we get trick-or-treaters that come from other neighborhoods to enjoy our wide, well-lit streets. During the rest of the year we get solicitors. It didn’t take long for us to get tired of the frequent knocks and doorbell ding-dongs of those trying to convince us we needed what they were offering: raffle tickets, vacuum cleaners, home services and, of course, religion.

Now I’ve got no problem with religion, but as far as I’m concerned, your religion is just that – yours. I don’t care if you are Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Pagan or a member of the Church of the Flaming Chicken. If it makes you happy, I’m happy. Just leave me the fuck out of it, please.

We put a “No Solicitors” sign on our door. A big, ugly, incredibly obvious “No Solicitors” sign. It’s two inches high and six inches wide. The sign is clearly visible from the street. But guess who still knocks on our fucking door? The people selling relgion. It makes me fucking nuts.

It especially bugs me when I answer the door, paste a big smile on my face, and say in my ultra-nice, ultra-polite voice “I would appreciate it if you would please not come back, thank you” and the person cops an attitude. What the fuck? In my head, I’ve made my preference to not be bothered in my own home perfectly clear. I have explicitly stated this by putting that ugly-assed sign on my door, right at eye level. That’s pretty much the only reason that sucker’s up there – I do not want to be bothered. To me, that sign basically says “If you weren’t invited, don’t ring the bell.” (With a very few exceptions, like the day I found our Maggie cat and canvassed the area looking for her home.)

As far as I’m concerned, that gives everyone notice that I don’t want to be bothered. In other words, bother me at your own peril. The fact that I am being nice, polite, gentle and very friendly is just me choosing to not be an asshole. The person ringing the bell doesn’t necessarily deserve it, but I’m going to give it anyway. But when that person starts copping an attitude and getting shitty with me, like I’m the one who is wasting your time? That’s crap, end of story.

Sometimes when I look at the No Solicitors sign and then look at the person on my porch, they will say “Oh but I’m not soliciting!”, practically adding a neener-neener-neener at the end of the sentence. Well, actually, you are. But the last thing I want to do is waste more time enlightening this person as to the definitions of the verb “soliciting” that do not involve cash. I have been known to just quietly shut the door at this point.

One person who insisted on this tact came to our door three times over the course of about five weeks. On the third trip I finally dropped the polite routine and informed him that we did not wish to be visited by him again, that we had told him this on at least two previous occasions, and that we would really appreciate it if he would respect our wishes (which, again, are clearly posted on the front door) and leave us alone. He tried to argue the definition of soliciting, but before he could finish I interrupted. Does it really matter? I knew what he was offering. I wasn’t interested last week or the week before, am not interested this week, nor will I be next week. So why are you here?? I felt like adding “Now go in peace before I beat the fuck out of you.”

I’ve thought up many a clever quip along the lines of “Oh you can read!” when someone wants to share a passage from a book or a flyer. I’ve considered keeping a stack of printouts containing the definition of soliciting in the entryway. Beau Hunk has a more practical devious fantasy: set a sprinkler aimed at the front door and turn it on as they approach the entry vestibule, thus trapping them by a blasting sprinkler and giving a good soaking. But the truth is, I don’t want to be mean, I just want my wishes to be respected.

Not just my wishes, the wishes of everyone who has a sign like ours. For instance, the neighbors across the street. They have the exact same sign that we do on their door. But they have it for a different reason: they are shut-ins and can barely move. They are 89 and 91, both on walkers. One suffers from Alzheimer’s and the other has had a stroke. Moving isn’t easy for these folks. It takes them seven rings of the phone to cross a twelve foot room and retrieve the handset. For them to come to the door is a monumental task. And yet, they get visited too.

I don’t think the people who roam the neighborhood understand the impact of their actions on these people. For them, it isn’t about convenience or interruption, it’s about precious energy and painful movement. No one gets that until the door gets answered. I hope the ringers of the bell at least have the capacity to feel like asses for putting these people through that kind of effort, all because they believe their purpose for being on the porch is far more important than anything that could possilby be going on in the lives of the resident.