Friday, April 20, 2007

No trespassing

Why is it that certain people seem to feel that it's perfectly acceptable to go up to strangers' houses, knock on the door, and try to sell them something, whether it's a new religion or magazine subscriptions or something else entirely?

Why do religious groups think that merely corralling someone in their doorway will be the basis of a sudden epiphany that leads to an entire change in religion and lifestyle?

Why do salespeople think that by knocking on my front door and asking me to buy something, such as magazine subscriptions, I'm going to suddenly feel the urge to hand money to a complete stranger?

And why do my neighbors think it's okay to send their teenagers door to door to sell fruit or poinsettias or popcorn or whatever else it is that the band/orchestra/other random high school group is selling this week? I don't see some of these people the other 364 days of the year, and don't even know some of their names, yet suddenly their offspring are standing on my porch shaking me down. I don't send my girls door to door selling Girl Scout cookies, I sure do wish my neighbors would extend me the same courtesy.

We used to have a sign by our front door that said, "No solicitors." Simple, but the message was there. Apparently, it wasn't enough, as church people would ignore it ("Oh, we're not solicitors."), as would other folks ("Um, what's a 'solicitor' dude?").

When it was clear our basic sign wouldn't work, I created another one, one that was slightly humorous but would hopefully get our message across. It said something like: "No Solicitors -- We're really happy the way we are, so we're not interested in buying anything or having our religion changed, but thanks for stopping by anyway." So help me, the next week, some Church Guys knocked on my door. Without thinking, I opened it. When I did, the men quickly pointed to my sign and said, "We're not here to change your religion, we just want to invite you to our church." Hmm, and how is that different from soliciting?

We kept having visitors of the unwanted variety, so I eventually had to get a bit hardcore with our note by the doorbell:

* STOP *

Do not ring our doorbell or knock on our door if you are here to:

· Sell us something or ask for money,

· Talk to us about religion or politics,

· Or take our opinion for a survey.

If we do not know you or we did not invite you to our home as a guest, we do not want to talk with you. Please leave and do not disturb us. Thank you.

I really hate having such a negative note right there by my front door. I'm a neighborly person, really I am. I just don't want to have to defend my religious beliefs. Nor do I want to buy anything from anyone. If I had wanted something new, I would have already gotten it.

But certain people STILL ignore my sign. For example, members of a certain religion based in Utah still ring my doorbell on a regular basis. In fact, they come through this neighborhood so often that I'm wondering if we've been marked as some evil group of people who must be brought over from the Dark Side. Seriously. The young men on bikes come through here at least once or twice a month. They still ring my doorbell AND ignore my very obvious sign. As if I'm going to answer the door after posting something like that. Are they delusional? And if I did answer the door to a couple of clean-cut young men in ties, do they really want to hear what's going to come out of my mouth after they've had the balls to trespass on my property and ignore my sign? Let me just say that what could conceivably come out of my mouth at that moment would surely cause their innocent ears to melt, fall right off, or both.

I'm not a curmudgeon, really I'm not. But I do believe that private property is just that. Private. So why do people think they have the right to march up to my front door and disturb me? It's gotten to the point that I simply don't open the front door unless I know the person standing outside. I don't even bother to hide my presence. I don't care if my children wave to the strangers on the other side of the door. I don't care if the people outside are offended.

So that's what's been on my mind lately, especially now that the weather is warmer and I'm seeing more strangers in my neighborhood. If you read in the newspaper about a 21-year-old college student in the burn unit with melted ears, and a 37-year-old mother of two in jail on charges of, well, whatever it would be if I did let loose an ear-dropping stream of invective, then that will be me.

Serenity now.

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