Thursday, November 8, 2012

No Means No. Unless You Talk To Me Long Enough. And Have An Israeli Accent.

I am a first degree sucker. Or "sucka" as my friends on the street like to say.  It's really counter-intuitive because I'm really a skeptical critical thinker.  On paper.  But get me in a one-on-one situation and I'm like a kid who's been bribed with candy.

Case in point: Roofers.  They are all over my neighborhood, slipping flyers in mailboxes, under doormats, in the thin space between front door and jamb (which is a little too close to breaking and entry for my taste).  They also like to knock on doors at the awesome hour of dinner o'clock.  I'm trying to help my kids with homework, prevent the dogs from eating one another and defrost a pizza when yet another roofer comes to the door.  I've actually chosen my roof guy - he's a close friend of my neighbor - but these door-knocking roofers are talkers.  In order to keep my house from imploding, I go outside to talk to them, but just for a minute.  I can't leave the kids and dogs alone for too long; dogs and homework will be eaten.  But these salesmen aren't interested in a short and snappy conversation.  They want to tell me about my shingle options.  They tell me how they can squeeze more money out of my insurance company.  They talk roof lingo, literally and figuratively over my head, like that is supposed to impress me.  Do I leave, offer an excuse (my dogs are ingesting one another), say, "Good day, sir!"?
(Image courtesy of
No, I keep talking.  I give them my name.  I give them my phone number.  I stop short at the social security number and Visa security code. (I'm not an idiot!)  Anything to make them go away.  Alas, this only feeds their hunger for business, so now I get more drop-bys, phone calls, flyers.  Why can't I just say no?!  Why do I need to please these strangers?  In my attempt to let them down easy, I lead them on!  Whoa, flashback to 10th grade.

If you think that my malady is limited to door-to-door roofers, think again.  I give money to door-to-door solicitors who are ex-felons!  Yep, you heard me.  Every summer they come to our neighborhood dressed sharply and talking smooth.  Picture someone as convincing as this:
Damnit, Baldwin, those blue eyes get me every time!
I don't know if their non-profit organization is legit and I don't know if the magazine subscriptions will actually come.  I don't want a magazine subscription.  I DON'T READ PEOPLE MAGAZINE!  So, in order to let them down gently, to escort them off my front lawn - because really, I do want them to succeed and some guilty part of me feels responsible, like my $20 will be key to their success - I hand them cash.  No, no subscriptions, thank you.  Here's some guilt money to please let me get back to that weeding I was so enjoying.  Sometimes I see my neighbors three doors down chatting outside when this happens.  They look at me as that warning their parents told them about.  They shake their heads.  When the nice young man in the crisp button down shirt approaches them, they firmly shake their heads at him too.  While smiling!  I slink back inside after throwing my gardening gloves into the bushes.

Yesterday I made my annual trip to the mall for my underpinnings (that's right, my dainties), passed by the Dead Sea Salts kiosk, and shuttered.  Thankfully no one was attending it.  I spied the sink in the middle of the rolling cart and remembered.  Two years ago, I was on this same trip, on my way to Vickie's Secret, when this gorgeous young man approached me.  He was short, olive skinned and had a thick head of black hair.  What skincare products was I using?  Who cares!  He lured me to the kiosk, despite my protestations.  The next thing I know, he's rubbing a salt over my hands like a lover and instructing me to rinse off at the sink.  Next, he takes a smooth file and burnishes my thumb nail to show me how much better this is than nail polish.  It burns and I wince, but he talks to me about coming to America from Israel and I am charmed.  He stops and looks at me.  "Are you Jewish?"  And I actually tell him, yes, I am (because I am), even though this is incredibly invasive.  He says we are like brother and sister and smiles at me while my stomach melts into a puddle.  I know it's a hard sell and he's rockin' it like the King of Dead Sea Salts.  Once he's finished bruising my nail, he offers me products.  I gently refuse.  He says, since we're like brother and sister, he'll give me a discount.  I say yes and walk away with a manicure kit I will never use.

So, my friends, my latest tactic is this: hide.  If you come to my door and the dogs bark for more than 10 minutes, text me.  I'm home, but I think you're a solicitor and I'm standing behind the kitchen door, unable to see if you are you, a roofer with thick mustache, an ex-felon with a dynamic grin, or (strangely enough, since he worked at the mall and didn't travel door-to-door) and gorgeous Israeli brandishing manicure equipment.  This is another tactic I may try: