Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maybe telemarketers aren't so bad after all

I've been lucky in my life. I've never worked in a fast food restaurant. I've never slogged through a shift at a grocery store, either. And I've never, nor will I ever, go door to door with some made-up bullshit story that takes five minutes to tell you while you're standing there in a bathrobe with crazy bed-hair letting all the heat out of the house in the middle of the day all in the name of selling you a magazine subscription.

This is my promise.

Once a week (okay, maybe twice a month), I get these people, sometimes they're solo, sometimes they team up, knocking on my door, usually employing some variation of "Shave and a Haircut," as if to suggest it's just some good buddy of mine on the other side dropping by to see if I want to go have a few beers and maybe buy a lap dance or two. What they don't know is that, if I had any friends, they wouldn't be the kinds of assholes who knock with "Shave and a Haircut," so the jig is up before I even open the door.

And for some reason I actually do open the door, despite this foreknowledge. I always regret it.

I let them say a few words and I even shake their hand when it's offered because that's the kind of guy I am. Within about five seconds my suspicions are confirmed by the laminated card folded in their other hand and the reek of cigarettes on their breath. They are definitely selling magazine subscriptions. It's been a while since I let one of them go all the way through their spiel, but I seem to recall from the last time I did that they like to wait until you are shifting your weight uncomfortably because your foot has fallen asleep before they get to the point. Or maybe they never do, just filibustering until you collapse right there in the doorway, at which point they rifle your pockets and steal your fuzzy slippers.

Today's offender wanted to collect X dollars so he could win a trip to Italy to find his inheritage (sic.) I didn't let him get any further than that before I pulled my own trump card, pointing out that it's 11 a.m. on a Tuesday and I'm at home in flannel pajama pants sporting a disheveled pillowhawk and three-day whiskers. Do I look like I was just sitting around counting my piles of disposable income, trying to decide which I'd rather blow it on, a year of Teen People or Cat Fancy? Because god knows I love both teens and cats.

The poor guy actually said, "How did you know I was selling magazines?" and then held the laminated card up close for my inspection in a last-ditch hail mary effort to sway my position, as if I was just waiting for a creased and dog-eared piece of colored paper to tip the balance. He seemed truly surprised that I might have played this game before.

I wished him luck and then listened through the door as he played "Shave and a Haircut" with his knuckles for the Indian family across the way. I'm pretty sure the wife is under orders not to open the door for anyone she doesn't know, though, so that trip to Italy may have to wait.

Why can't I get any Mormon missionaries? At least them I could have a conversation with.

14 comments:

courtney said...

We did get Mormon missionaries once, but I sent them on their way. In retrospect, I should have invited them in for a chat.

Those magazine subscription guys make me uncomfortable. I feel like rapists who hang out in bars start conversations the exact same way.

Anyway, quit answering the door.

Erin said...

Dude, I live 1.2 miles from LDS headquarters and the original Mormon temple. I HAVE NEVER GOTTEN A MORMON MISSIONARY AT MY DOOR.

I did get a subscription once from one of those magazine salesmen, but the magazine never showed up.

Caroline said...

One morning after a drug-fueled night, I came home to find a couple of Mormons knocking on my door. Not ready to sleep yet, I thought it might be interesting to hear thier side of the story. Long story, short, my roommate had to tell them I'd moved a couple of months later so they'd stop harassing me. Consider this your warning.

Analyst Catalyst said...

Once, when I leaned up to the door to look out the peephole to ensure that I was about to be solicited to, the woman on the other side of the door heard me and said loudly, "I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE!"

I didn't answer. But I did silently lock the dead bolt.

Julie said...

That knock has a name? Wow. I learn something new every day.

I did get Mormons at our old apartment. The magazine saleskids usually hit me up in the parking lot of strip malls. I do not give money to random strangers who approach me in the parking lot.

Stefanie said...

I never get Mormons OR magazine people. Liberals and tree huggers, though? They stop by ALL the time. I may support their cause and agree with everything they say, but I still don't want to give them money at a moment's notice just because they knocked on my door. I am considering putting up a sign saying, "No Clipboard People, Please. I gave online." (What? I *sometimes* give online... It could happen again.)

sid said...

The only people who ever knock on our doors are the ones who come begging for food. Oh and the ones who true to save your soul by convincing you to go to mosque with them. The point I was trying to make is that ppl in SA are really poor. I was watching Oprah some time ago where the camera followed this couple to a homeless shelter. The shelter was fully furnished and in a really good condition. You guys have no idea how good you have it. You have no idea how many ppl live in metal shacks in SA. One bedroom metal shacks constructed by themselves ... communal "toilets". The toilets are buckets which are supposed to be cleaned once a week.

mongoliangirl said...

And the companies that get those people out selling their magazines? Oy vey! It's like some kind of drug dealing prostitution ring. Sad.
Oh, and stop answering the door. Either that? Or make them a sandwich. There is simply no middle ground.

Chris said...

I'm sorry to admit that in a moment of lapsed judgment I bought a magazine subscription to be sent "to the troops". Sad thing is, I think the kid who sold it to me actually believed the magazine would go to the troops, as did I until I came back inside and Meaghan said, in not so many words, "What the hell is wrong with you?"

I did not, however, let some guy install a home security system "for free for the first 90 days". So that's something to be proud of.

ck said...

When I didn't have a job, Cat Fancy really got me through some dark days.

Allie said...

This is one of the many wonders of having a big dog that looks like a wolf. Almost 100 lbs of Argo barking in the window keeps solicitors away.

Meaghan said...

adding on to Chris' comment: We really pissed off the home security guy. We told him we wouldn't give him the information he wanted because what if HE wanted to break into our house. When I asked for ID, he whipped out a business card. I told him those are really easy to make and to get off my porch - this was all after we put our current "alarm system" back in the house so they wouldn't knock the guy over. Of course, the dog are really only big babies but not everyone knows that.

A Free Man said...

I went to grad school with quite a few Mormons. They would often invite fellow grad students over for dinner and a quick missionary spiel. Not so quick according to those who went through it. But I never got an invite. I was starting to get offended. Then a Mormon guy in my lab invited me over one day for dinner. I was pumped. Had my skeptical questions and derisive asides all planned out. But no missionary spiel was forthcoming. I couldn't figure it out. I mean, here I was standing out on their back porch smoking a cigarette and nursing my fourth beer just ripe for conversion.

I guess even the Mormons recognize their limitations.

The Modern Gal said...

I would pay good money to observe a conversation between you and a Mormon missionary. Make it happen.