Thursday, June 20, 2013


[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on July 30, 2011. The sign works, folks.]

Remember when I said I can be a world-class jerk? Don’t knock on my door. Unless you know me, that is.

Solicitors, I’m talking to you.

It’s highly invasive when someone interrupts my day to promote their Thing — even when I’m not looking after four kids, or scrubbing a toilet, or chasing black wasps around the house because a certain five-year-old mistook it for a mosquito eater and wanted competition for the four-year-old’s pet spider living in the bathroom (true story).

Basically, if I’m answering my door to a stranger over the age of fifteen who is not obviously promoting a local educational or sports endeavour, I’m defensive. Instantly so. Truly, I am a territorial beast. Hackles rise, tension builds, my chest tightens as my snark settles at ready...

(My apologies, but the stun setting is broken... I can’t promise it won’t be lethal.)

And we get a lot of solicitors. Plenty. Like, since our move we’ve had our lifetime’s fair share and that of two others, kind of plenty. When the nice weather hit, barely a day went without someone knocking, be it for a child-sponsoring program, some spa promotion, fencing services, knife-sharpeners, lawn care, a utility company...

(FYI: It’s highly satisfying to tell a man with a clipboard that you live in a two-year-old home and therefore are absolutely positive your hot water tank does not need replacing. They don’t like that very much.)

So imagine my face when for the third time in one day I answered my door with a stranger on the other side. Not one, but two — this 40-something gentleman had a young man shadowing him, learning how to barge onto people’s property and bully them into accepting whatever not-so-necessary service they’re offering.

I, however, have not fallen victim to the horrific disease investing our lovely nation (I’m looking at you, fellow Canadians). You know the one. The one where we err on the side of self-deprecating courtesy and (GASP!) have forgotten how to say no!

Me? I used to be a shy, malleable soul, but life forced me to eat some crap sandwiches and I decided not to care. Yep. This translated to learning (albeit late in life) the ability to say no.

And this is my philosophy it comes to solicitors: if I wanted your product, I’d be seeking you out, not vice versa.

Don’t worry, it’s not an excuse to be rude. In fact, Mr Lannis and I usually have a little bit of fun with the poor souls who choose to knock on our door (my gym rat has been known to stand shirtless and talk the ear off uncomfortable puritan peddlers — he’s my hero!).

So yes, I answered the door — the knock that interrupted my usually-unwilling five-year-old successfully stretching out words for a thank you card he was writing — to find, for the third time in one day, a solicitor. A pair, in fact.

And as it turned out, they were from the same paving company that had already visited earlier!

Whee. (Can you hear my enthusiasm? I can’t, either.)

Me [with a chipper voice]: Hey, guys. Stupid day for a walk.

Solicitor [smiling, probably assuming I’m referring to the blinding heat, as we Canadians are wont to talk about weather]: Yes. Hi. We’re here from [I-don’t-remember-because-you-were-jerkfaces] paving company, and we’re doing a whack of driveways over there [he points], and the more we have, the cheaper we can offer it, so we were wondering if you’d like your driveway sealed?

Me [shocked to realize it’s a repeat, yet relieved for the easy out]: Ah, someone was here this morning. Don’t think so. But thanks anyway.

Him: Oh, well, I’m just making the rounds, so I thought I could talk to you about it.

Me [flat tone]: Clearly.

Him [probably noticing the tone, therefore jumping onto concrete facts]: Well, Miss, I see you’ve got a lot of chalk on your driveway. It dries it out a lot. It should really be done.

Me [I had to give it to him for the recon — the subdivision he’d indicated was in the opposite direction, and he’d had to walk around the side of our house to see the chalk-slashed driveway.]: Nope, that’s okay.

Him: It really is dry.

Me: Well, if it needs to be done, I’m sure we can do it cheaper ourselves. [Mr Lannis has used bucket sealant and elbow grease in the past.]

Him: Oh, see, our technique is far better. We use hot... [blah blah — I stopped listening to him here. It seemed fair, since he’d obviously stopped listening to me.]

Me: Nope, that’s okay.

Him [smiling in what I’m sure he thinks is a disarming manner]: Perhaps I should come back when your husband is home?

Yes, folks, he actually said that. So picture me, eyes widening, brain wheeling in mad panic as I attempt to remember being transported to the 1940s, and figure out how to claw my way back to 2011 before Mr Lannis barbeques dinner!

My broken verbal filter shuddered to life before I could snap something truly inappropriate about people who don’t listen to the word ‘no.’ Epically inappropriate. A friend of mine told me I should have said, “it’s okay, I am the husband,” and see what happened next.

Instead, I grinned: Nope, it’s cool. I have clearance for executive decisions.

He didn’t see the humour in the comment, but his younger cohort snorted a laugh.

So, jerk-muscle flexing, I added: Look, buddy [because unless you’re under twelve years of age, ‘buddy’ is my passive-aggressive term for idiots]. The only way your company will be sealing our driveway is if you offer to do it for free.

Him [shocked]: All right then, thanks for your time.

Me: Yep.

I closed the door, and my brain exploded! Seriously. It chanted: the invasion is coming. The invasion is coming...

Our new town is fairly small, and — with creative geography — could possibly be considered the suburbs. As I said, we get a lot of solicitors. But three in one day?! Two from the same company?! And the last not knowing the meaning of the word “no?!”

I. Can’t. Handle. This. Time for signage!

I assumed Mr Lannis would give me a 24 hour pass until my mental stability regained its footing, then remove my sign — which was a cheery after-work surprise for him. The kind that prompts raised brows and that head shake that means he doesn’t want to know what provoked it.

Usually, Mr Lannis errs on the side of invisible social conformity. He likes to blend. Some days I’m baffled why he’s with me, because I gave up blending years ago. Usually, a saucy sign would be removed promptly, lest our house be egged by local teens.

(To which I would remind him that I get along well with teenagers. Something something mindset something...)

And yes, this is really on our front door. If solicitors knock, they either have a healthy sense of humour, or are duly warned and better be braced for what’s coming...

And so far, it’s working. Three weeks and not one solicitor yet. Ha!

(For the record, it’s open season on telemarketers, too.)

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