Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Spirit of Christmas

'Tis the season for...solicitors at your door. Yesterday, a young-ish, African American-ish, charming-ish couple came to our door. Now I *know* how this works. I *know* the canned compliments, the reel-ins, the sympathetic, "How am I doing so far, ma'am?" questions. As this young man is rattling off with these, I hardly listen after he says, "As a young father of a baby girl..." He's a father? He looks about 20, tops. Still, my mind wanders to the crowded room where these folks receive their "training" on door-to-door salesmanship.

Teacher: Okay, Lady of the house answers the door. She has a child on her hip, another wrapped at her leg. Tell her you're a parent, and BINGO! You can't lose. Compliment her home, her hair, her dog, her child's runny nose. Make reference to your deceased Gramma, "Oh my Grammy always told me an oatmeal cookie is an oatmeal cookie." [He really said this. I still don't know what it means.]

So here comes the schpeel. The black book flips open, and a photo of a sweet, chubby-legged baby "accidentally" spills out.

Me: Cute baby. Is that your little daughter?

Him: Oh, no, that's my son ma'am.

Me: [Holy Moly. He has a son, too.] Well, he's very adorable.

The list of magazines I can purchase for myself, my husband, my friends, my church, to promote literacy for "the children in Watts" now comes out. What? Just take my checkbook now. You've got me.

Good manners pull at me to invite them in. Good senses propel me not to. Afterall, a woman at home with her children should not be allowing strangers in. Fortunately, just as it was my cue to run and get the checkbook, my husband came home. He invited them in. This is when my heart really broke.

They (charming man and his assistant in training, who also shows me a picture of her 3 year old daughter) step in. Seriously, I want to just say, "Come have a cup of coffee, juice, water, something. Sit down. Toss the one-liners and tell me about your life. Seriously." Suddenly I just want the cheesy lines to go away and to learn about them. They stand in awe of our home, our home we complain about. I want to cry I'm so ashamed.

Him: Glancing at a photo of the family at the local beach. "Wow, that's a beautiful picture ma'am. Is that the Atlantic Ocean here?" Ouch. We live in San Diego. He breaks my heart.

I just want to know how bad (or good)it really is for them. Do you really have two children? How does it feel to see countless white face after white face answer the door, close the door, say "No, thanks," and you muster on?

I don't know. Maybe I'm a sucker. Maybe they live in a palace on the Pacific Ocean. But why do I feel so bad after they leave? Why do I feel the injustices pouring into my cracks and seams as I send them out (with 1,000 points towards his ... something something award). Do they go back home and just say, "Man, those people have no idea." Or do they say, "Man, those people are such suckers?"

Whatever the answer is, they did their job well. They should go home proud.


Trish said...

You have an incredible, beautiful heart and spirit. I am really proud of how you think.

But I have to tell you 2 things because I am your Mom and I love you!

1. Please, please do not ever open the door to strangers when you are home alone and

2. Do they think you are a sucker? My brother "Blake the Flake" used to sell magazines, door to door, to "work" his way through a non-existent college, help support a non-existent child or earn non-existent points for a non-existent award or trip. He and his "crew" used to celebrate a good day, by smoking weed and getting drunk with the day's profits.

I am thinking that 20 year old probably didn't know that the Pacific Ocean is on the West Coast because he spent his High School years smoking crack instead of studying, and now he sells magazines door to door for a living.

just jamie said...

Yikes. That's harsh. Or...he's just a regular guy doing a regular job every day. That's why I just wanted to sit them down and get the scoop.

Cheri said...

Whatever they may think when they get home, you are not a sucker, you have an incredibly big and soft heart, which you get from your mother. No matter how I complain or try to paint a negative picture about any situation, she never fails to see and point out the bright side to me. Having said that, I agree with your mom. You were lucky if all those two did was case the joint. Please don't open your door to strangers again. There are other ways to do good in the world, and the world needs a good one like you.