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.