signs of the times

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.

7 thoughts on “signs of the times

  1. Last fall I told a man selling shrimp out of his truck “no thanks” through my shut door. He kept knocking, ringing the bell and insisting he had a good price just for me. I finally told him if he did not leave I was dialing 911…at which point he left. How desparate are these door ringers?

  2. Do you really often answer the door in just a towel? In a couple of years, when your middle son’s friends get older you’re gonna be the most popular house to solicit for odd jobs…

  3. I could use odd jobbers. Alas, all we get are the geriatrics from the Mt. Hellfire Baptist church down the road. Again and again. I figure my property looks like too much work even for the most desperate odd jobber.

  4. Want me to send them your way Stormare? I could create a hobo signs flyer. Miriam, I think I might spray paint some signs on the front steps. Barry, they only visit during school hours.

  5. For the pamphlet people, I keep a chiropractic pamphlet by the door and offer an exchange … “You tell me about your _____ and I will tell you about chiropractic. Here, take my pamphlet.” Next time there’s a job fair at school, have Sarah grab a bunch of fliers for you and just start handing them out. Fortunately we don’t have the odd-jobers.

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