Sarah R. Callender


In General on August 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Note to readers: I should have called this Ding-dong, Part One, except I’ve gotten in the habit of writing one-word blog titles, and I’m gonna go with that for as long as I can. I don’t, however, want to give you a cliffhanger ending without warning. That does not foster trust between blogger and reader. So clip on those caribiners, people. I’ve got a two-part story to tell.

I should also say that when I sat down to write this post, I thought I’d write about my 20-year high school reunion. But as that took place just last night, and as I have at least seventeen different emotions about what actually was a lovely night, I need a bit more time to ponder and process the dynamics of The High School Reunion.

After that dead end, I thought I’d perhaps gravitate to the story of how, just today, my daughter projectile vomited in the car on the way to pick me up at the airport after my aforementioned (out of state) reunion. But because I SO detest vomit and because I am a super-smeller and will be heretofore reminded of puke each time I drive carpool AND because Jake, seven-year-old son of my dear, compulsive car cleaning friend is going to gripe ad nauseum about the gross smell when I drive him to soccer camp this week, I feel too sad to write about minivan vomit.

So instead, I’m going to talk about door-to-door solicitors (Part One). And how it’s hard to find a No Soliciting sign that is polite yet firm yet understanding (Part Two). After all, as we hover on the edge of the double-dip economic disaster, I do understand that people gotta do what they gotta do to make a dollar, whether it be by selling Hershey bars or End Times post-apocalyptic land parcels. I am understanding; I just don’t want them knocking on my door.

Let’s set the scene: our front door is glass, not clear glass, but kind of a pattern thing. I love this door. It’s unique and practical, largely because if, say, a child likes to lick glassy surfaces, and if that child’s mother isn’t really the best of house cleaners, the saliva rivulets aren’t obvious to the casual observer.

The glass pattern also provides what I call JEO, Just Enough Obscurity. So, if I am dancing in my living room, right in front of the door, a solicitor coming to sell me candy or land parcels will know someone is dancing inside, but he will not be able to ascertain the identity of the dancer, nor will he likely be able to ascertain the genre of dance, especially if the dancer has been known to dance (as her son once stated), “Like you are just skiing really fast.” That’s the kind of glass front door I have. I hope that helps.

Of course, if you live in Seattle you know why it’s helpful to have a glass front door, especially on those mid-December days when the run rises at 9:53 a.m. and sets at 4:02 p.m. and there’s drizzle round the clock. Happy Light? check. Zoloft? check. Glass door to add just a touch of natural light while still maintaining JCO? check.

The problem of course, is that this door does not allow me and my children to hide from solicitors when we are playing Yahtzee! or dancing or reading books on the other side of that door.

Now, let me pause to explain that there is a circumstance when I will open the door to a solicitor and that is when on the other side of the door stands a woman who appears to be a lesbian. Yes, this is judgmental and certainly involves a lot of stereotyping. But I just know that I have never met a lesbian who is unkind or who wanted to rape me or steal my laptop. Second, many women who come knocking support a cause I also support: women’s rights or marriage for everyone rights or nature or short, sassy haircuts. So yes I judge. And I stereotype. And if I judge that there’s a nice, like-minded woman on the other side? Bingo.

I also have been known to open the door to shiny young men whom I believe to be Mormons. That’s because even though I have no intention of dropping my Presbyterian faith, I like talking about religion. Especially with the Very Fervent and Determined. And really, the icing on the cake is that Mormon boys tend to call me ma’am. And I like that. I like it very much. I have no desire to be southern, but for that little yes, ma’am, no ma’am tradition.

There is, however, a third reason I have been known to open the door to apparent Mormons: legend has it, sometimes, if you listen very carefully to the young men’s spiel and are really polite and respectful as you decline further information, they will say, “All right. We’ll just leave these materials for you.” And then if you’re very lucky, they just might ask, “Is there anything else we can do for you?”

And if you say, “Well, yes as a matter of fact. You can haul that pile of beauty bark from the front yard to the back.” they will say, “Great. We’ll be back tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in our work clothes.”

And they will be back at 9:00. On the dot! (Someone I Know has been known to do this. I am not lying.)

For everyone else though, I generally opt  to not answer the door. And that’s because I do that emotional flooding thing which means I have been known to do (very stupid) things like follow two bad-arse (one male, one female) solicitors back down the path and out to the front walk asking, in my tough girl voice, “WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?” even though I heard them, very clearly, call me some string of words that ended with “white bitch.”

Because I’m sorry. I try very hard not to be a anything on the bitch spectrum, certainly to people I don’t know who are just doing the best they can in this double-dip economy. It’s my right to politely decline, even to not answer the door, if I don’t feel like I need a Hershey bar or a subscription to Shape or The Atlantic or White Seattle Bitch magazine.

Yes solicitors, that is my right.

End of Part One.

  1. If you need any back issues of White Seattle Bitch magazine just let me know. I too do not like solicitors.

  2. Oops, I meant ditto on Kasey’s response.

  3. Sarah, great post. When you find the correct sign, will you get me one also? I wonder, after 10 years of being a homeowner, why I have never had THAT sign??? Let’s debrief regarding reunions too! RK forever.

  4. On a grey (potentially rainy) Monday in Seattle AUGUST!#@*! you & your blog are just what I needed. Thank you for the morning laughs. Do you think if I jsut smear the boys siliva on my glass door I will be able to achieve the JEO door to hide my dancing?

  5. Every time I turn a solicitor down, in that ever so uncomfortable way, I think about how much I need one of those signs. Of course I also have no idea if they do any good. I’m guessing that you now have a sign. If so, have you noticed a difference?

    • Ha! Yes, Veronica. I put the sign up yesterday . . . I will report back. The sign itself is not as polite as I’d like it to be, but that’s part of Part Two. Thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate it. 🙂

  6. Being kind to solicitors (aren’t those lawyers? do I mean soliciters?) is one of my SuperPowers. So much so that I have *two* teams of Jehovahs’ Witnesses who visit me regularly, this despite my confusing combination of a Mezuzah on the doorframe and Jesus-fangirling at the door. I also have a policy of always saying ‘yes’ to any u-13s who show up at the door, since that kind of bravery ought to be encouraged. I suppose that means that if the JWs start ending 6th graders, we’ll be converting…

  7. So timely, Sarah! I just turned away a college-age girl selling some sort of school-related books (supposed to help with homework or something?). Obviously I listened too long (because I have some idea what she was selling), but now I’m sitting here wondering if she was legit or casing my house? I’ll hope for the best. Need to get me one of them signs! 🙂 Why do I not feel it’s ok turn folks away without opening the door (unless it’s a creeply looking guy after dark)? Would like to know exactly what you say???

  8. This post made me laugh out loud! Though I’d like to hide, my overly social seven year old daughter loves to fling open the door and welcome the stranger in. It is very confusing for all of us.

  9. PS to my earlier reply — I, like you, can’t hide from someone at my door, so that’s why I answer. I’d rather hide! But I can’t tell who’s there unless I get so close that they can see me too! I think I need to swap my door glass for a peep hole!

  10. Well said Sarah. I too have all sorts of issues with my Ding-Dong… So much so that I wonder at times if it means I am somehow in need of therapy. 🙂 Must say, though, that I am looking forward to any reunion talk as I was unable to witness it myself. I know you will deliver when ready and I will read it and will laugh out loud. Hmmm…. and as for the vomit – maybe an Arm & Hammer fridge-n-freezer box hung decoratively from the rearview?

  11. You could always tell them that while, regrettably, you can’t support their cause monetarily, you can sing them a cheer. A what? A cheer! And then you can do your downhill-ski dance while you’re singing it, with a few extra fist punches in the sky for emphasis.

  12. last week, i dismissed a solicter quickly to get back to dinner with my family. my son yelled “wow, that was fast!” as I returned to the table and my wife and I grimaced looking at the wide open window next to our front door. oh, well. i just can’t support door-to-door peddling, especially during family time.

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