While we don’t have homeless people sleeping in our backyard, we do get a lot of door-to-door foot traffic. Usually, it’s just the pamphlet people. The pamphlet people are polite and sympathetic to my inability to stand on the porch chatting for 45 minutes. Lately, our visitors have been more frequent, less understanding and more perseverant. The door-to-door sales people don’t care if I am wearing a towel or am trying to bathe a dog who has been finger painted with toothpaste. They have a speech that they are required to say to each and every person they encounter. Honestly saying that I don’t have any money to buy whatever they are selling doesn’t send them on their way. They don’t accept no for an answer. I always end up feeling like I am being rude to the door-to-door sales people and I hate that feeling. The pamphlet people and sales people aren’t the ones who worry me.
Not a week goes by that there isn’t someone knocking on the door and offering to do “odd jobs for cash.” The odd jobbers are willing to try any chore, regardless of their existing skills or available tools. They will happily climb the dead tree and risk their lives topping it with tools they have never used before. I could ask them to paint my toenails and they would give it their best effort. The odd jobbers make me sad and uncomfortable at the same time. There is a desperation to the odd jobbers that is so palpable you can see, hear and feel it. The kind of desperation that leaves people on the edge of doing anything to survive. The kind of desperation that leads to bad choices. I know this and they know that I know it, but knowing doesn’t change it. I wish I could be one of those big hearted Depression-era women who could always provide a hot meal and a little pocket cash in exchange for a few hours of chores. I can’t. I am impotent. I can see it coming, but I can’t stop it.