Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Solicit this

I keep thinking about this guy who showed up on my doorstep on Thursday with a pocket full of sweaty, wrinkled brochures. When solicitors arrive, they hold their brochures out to you; they push their hand into your space, past the threshold of your door frame. It's a move designed to encourage you to take the brochure from their hand, but I advise you not to do this.

As is disarmingly and frequently true when it comes to solicitors, I later couldn't figure out what exactly the guy was selling. His sweaty brochures contained photos of children's books, and I guess I was supposed to choose a book to donate to St. Jude's. Spoiler alert: I did not choose a book to donate to St. Jude's. Unless the person standing on my doorstep is under five feet tall and wearing a girl scout uniform, I automatically assume they are lying their ass off.

Anyway, this kid is of indeterminate age. I wonder: Does this kid attend the high school near my house? I'm thinking probably not, because he talks like he's from New Jersey. And then I wonder: are they busing in kids of indeterminate age from New Jersey? One female solicitor over the summer told me she'd been bused in from Los Angeles. She was very, very good at soliciting, and I bought a container of purple all-purpose cleanser from her. It works great.

This kid, though, wanted me to high-five him for some reason, and seeing as how I was feeling surly and not in the mood to be suckered into buying something fake, I said No. He looked surprised. I wondered: Is he asking all my neighbors to high-five him? I imagine Bupesh high-fiving this guy, and I like the idea of that.

This kid says if he gets enough donations, he will go to Italy. Perhaps it's some kind of program for New Jersey youth to go check out all that pasta and the fountains and statues and stuff. I'm quite a bit more confused about how donations to St. Jude's are connected to New Jersey youth traveling to Italy.

And then he asks me if I can manage to muster some enthusiasm for him. I raise my eyebrows. I have a sink full of dishes I was washing when he interrupted my task, and I'm wearing an apron that smells like butt cheese. Don't worry; I've washed the apron now and it smells much better, but I think all of winter's baking splashes began to fester and the thing was stinking to high heavens. I hoped my friend from New Jersey could smell it. In any case I just raised my eyebrows as if to say: I wonder if you requesting that your customers muster some enthusiasm is a viable sales tactic. Oh certainly, kid. Sorry if I seemed unenthusiastic about your Mystery Business Proposition, of which I know only that you would like me to high-five you and there is a possibility you will be sent to Italy.

Undeterred by my eyebrows, the New Jersey youth pulls his crumpled brochures from a back pocket and explains the whole St. Jude's thing and then he holds one of the brochures out to me, his hand sliding past the threshold of my door frame, successfully popping my bubble of personal space that I prefer not to have popped, ever, by anyone, especially not annoying and strange youth from New Jersey who show up on my porch unannounced.

What I think all door-to-door solicitors need to understand is that there are maybe five people in my life who are allowed to show up at my doorstep unannounced, and the rest of the world, even if they are dear friends of mine, are not allowed to do that. So you are already operating at a disadvantage, see? Most times I don't even open the door, and if I do you can bet my irritation level is at Threat Level Orange.

I didn't take the brochure and told the youth I wasn't interested today and he said Have a nice evening, Miss, but I can tell you that what he was really thinking was very rude and would have been quite offensive. I know this because I had a rare and brief telepathic moment.

I see the youth jaunt across the street to my neighbor, Mary, who speaks with him through her window before sending him on his way. She later texts me that he told her she didn't look very happy. She told him she didn't know what the hell he was doing on her porch. I'm paraphrasing. In any case I think this particular youth could take soliciting lessons from the woman from Los Angeles selling purple all-purpose cleanser. Or the girl scouts for that matter.



12 comments:

  1. You are nice.

    My guess is he's not going to Italy, but that's just a guess.

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  2. You are hilarious.

    This reminds me, I need to get a "No Solicitors" sign for my front porch.

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  3. It's always a trip to Europe, isn't it? Next time I'll tell the kid that I've never even been to Europe and good night.

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  4. Kelly - Since I assume he was lying, I also assume you are right!

    Mandy - I wanted to get one and my husband wouldn't let me.

    Sweetest - EXCELLENT POINT. I have never been to Europe, either!

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Retry:
    We've been getting people claiming to be deaf inviting us to a social which I can only imagine has some sort of religious bent. The Deaf Ed teacher in me always feels torn (not like the Mormons to whom I can shout "I'm a Jew! Get outa here!") and so I always strike up a conversation in sign language. Usually this is met with shock and a stuttering I-just-learned-this-phrase-on-the-internet "Nice to meet you." Once their bluff is called, they usually retreat pretty quickly. Works for those "deaf" folks in the parking lots that hand out shit, too.

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  7. Sarah, I presume? That is REALLY disturbing. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered one of these "deaf" people handing out leaflets asking for donations. I never believe these people are actually deaf, so I never donate. But there's always that inkling of doubt, you know? You've just erased it.

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  8. I am currently reading, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Caldini. Mr. Caldini shows you the tactics, and how to avoid them. I was already pretty hip to these scary street solicitors, but now I'm going to learn how to persuade them to go away.

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  9. Here is how you get rid of them. Here is my tactic for door to door solicitors:

    Them: Knock Knock
    Me: "WHO IS IT" (angry loud voice)
    Them: I'm blah blah from high school cleaning products, donations
    Me: "NOT INTERESTED"
    Them:

    Solicitors in parking lots/streets:
    Them: Do you want to give to some fake ass thing I made up to get free money? Oh by the way I have a dog, a baby, I'm deaf, and I am a veteran. Please help.
    Me:

    or if they persist

    Me: NO

    Done and Done! No persuasion book needed.

    One rule to remember: People asking for handouts always are trying to screw you 99% of the time.

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  10. Since I used less than and greater than symbols this blogger app ate my nice narrations of what happens. Great QA Google!

    Here is try #2:

    Them: Knock Knock
    Me: "WHO IS IT" (angry loud voice)
    Them: I'm blah blah from high school cleaning products, donations
    Me: "NOT INTERESTED"
    Them: *walking dejectedly down the front steps*

    Solicitors in parking lots/streets:
    Them: Do you want to give to some fake ass thing I made up to get free money? Oh by the way I have a dog, a baby, I'm deaf, and I am a veteran. Please help.
    Me: *walking straight ahead not making eye contact*

    or if they persist

    Me: NO

    Done and Done! No persuasion book needed.

    One rule to remember: People asking for handouts always are trying to screw you 99% of the time.

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  11. Kid who came to my house said Greece. Maybe it's a regional thing.

    I didn't give him money.

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  12. When we bought our house, the "No solicitors" sign was already in place. Let me tell you, it does not work.

    I usually just shout through the door at people, particularly if I'm not expecting anyone. My favorite moment was the time that I said, "Do you see that sign that says "No solicitors" on your left?" The guy said, "I'm not selling anything," and I responded, "Yes, you are."

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