Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tough Sell

Oh, you should have seen me. I haven’t channeled my teenage self like that for years, and brother, it felt good. No, I did not go dancing. These hips no longer move those ways. And, no, I did not sleep through 3rd period, hiding behind my Algebra book. I could have, but my 4 kids are much more persistent than any math teacher. I yelled at an adult and I’m proud of it.

Some background: we have a bright red, light reflecting “No Solicitors” sign posted right above the doorbell. You cannot ring the doorbell and not see the sign. Unless, of course, you’re blind, in which case I’m wondering how you found the doorbell in the first place. We’ve had the sign for about a year. For the first 6 months of that time, the sign successfully thwarted would-be sales people. But something happened which changed all that.

We got a fence. A lovely, white picket fence, that seems so welcoming, so neighborly. And, gosh, darnit, if they’ve gone to all the trouble of opening the gate to get to the door, those rotten salespeople may as well ring.

Now we get about 5-7 door approaches per week. Last week, I had Sears letting me know about some work being done in my area. And, oh, by the way, if I need any work, they’re happy to oblige. I had a milk delivery company, the newspaper, 2 roofers and a meat truck. And do they knock timidly? Not on your tintype, Alfalfa. They ring away like it’s New Year’s Eve. Unless confronted by them, my MO is to ignore them. They can see me in the kitchen, I can see them at the door, and I choose not to open it.

But, this week, we had Persistent Meat Man, and I lost control. He pulled up in his unmarked truck. He got out. He walked directly to my door. He rang the bell. 3 of the 4 children ran to the door to see who it was. The fourth would have run to the door but he’s still working on crawling and so didn’t get there fast enough. I was standing in the kitchen in clear view of the door. I said to each of the 3 children, separately and in a very loud voice, “Don’t answer it! It’s a salesman!” Then, like lemmings, they stood at the door and stared at the man.

Okay, is that a clear message? “Yes, we’re home. No, we’re not answering. Go away.”

And what does Probably Stolen From a Restaurant Meat Man do? He rang the bell again. That makes 2 times, and in my book, that’s you bein’ in my face.

I said to my daughters, “You may want to leave. Mommy is going to yell.”

I opened the door and said, “Do you want me to buy something?” (This is me, giving Non FDA Approved Meat Man the benefit of the doubt.)

Not being quick to perceive my I Hate You stare and tone of voice, he said, “Yes. I have a truck of meat.”

I point to the sign, “No solicitors!”

He said, and I am not kidding, “I’m not a solicitor. I’m not going door-to-door. I was just told to get rid of this meat.”

Okay, perhaps the word “solicitor” was too challenging for him. So I explained. “I don’t know you. I don’t know your company.” At this point I started doing the swirly finger thing at him. “That makes YOU a solicitor!”

I shut the door as he began to say words that deserved a slap, or at least soap.

My children came out of their cleverly concealed hiding spots giggling.

I want to paint a cute little sign to put by the gate that says, “I kill salespeople.” Hal has another idea. He wants me to open the window and politely ask the solicitor’s name. Then I can say, “Because I’m calling the police and I want to be able to tell them who’s trespassing.”

I guess I need to answer the universal question: what is my purpose here? If it’s to provide entertainment to my children, clearly Hal wins. If it’s to prevent annoying and possibly dangerous people from opening my gate and entering our private living space and waking the Sleeping Infant with their door ringing, then my way wins. Votes and other ideas?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Love Story

My kids choose not to be scientists. They are creative, as a scientist needs to be, they are good with numbers, and they love the natural world. But they don’t like working with theories, they don’t like numbers (good does not equal joy) and they don’t respond well to the way science is generally taught in school. But this year, something happened for the Oldest Child.

She has a male teacher. And this male teacher loves science, or at least he puts on a good face about it. Oldest Child said, and I quote, “It’s actually interesting. Not that I like it or anything, but I don’t HATE it now.”

And that, my friends, is a ringing endorsement coming from the child who firmly believes that Demeter is responsible for the crops and Persephone for the seasons.

So, thank you, Hal, for avoiding work and emailing this op-ed piece in the NYTimes.

What I get from the article is this: it’s okay for me to be a failure in the “encourage math and sciences” department because other cultures are not failures and they will make up the difference. Of course, that means that we need to open the borders, but you all know how liberal I feel about that anyway.

Remember in Dune how people had become uber-specialized? I’d like to see my personal world become that way. Not so Bene Gesserit, but more “sit in the sun and enjoy it while other people sit in their labs and figure stuff out” specializations. I’m doing my share--when there’s sun. I’m really, really good at sitting. I’m so good at sitting that I frequently reward myself with ice cream. People who are good in labs should also reward themselves with whatever labby people enjoy, like a new petrie dish or something. As for me and my very American-culture, Taylor Swift loving girls, we’ll get all artsy and tree-worshippy and leave the striving to our equal but more scholastic counterparts.

As Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam said, “The willow submits to the wind and prospers until one day it is many willows--a wall against the wind. This is the willow’s purpose.”