Husband and I were having a conversation about what would happen if the Internet suddenly was gone. That led to talk of having to go to stores to shop and everyone sending out catalogs again. Ultimately it led to the trucks and carts that went around neighborhoods in my husband’s youth. Personally, the only truck I have vivid memories of was the ice cream truck and that still comes around, but there is a very hazy memory, from when I was very little, of a guy who came around and sharpened knives. I know my mother missed him greatly after he was gone. Not sure why, as the woman could not cook to save her life, either she used the knives for something else or the knife sharpener was a particularly attractive man. Then of course, there was the Fuller Brush man who walked door to door with his case, no truck, and my mother dreaded his arrival as she could not stand up to heavy sales pressure. Personally, if I don’t want to see someone, I just don’t answer the door. Or if it is summer and the door is open, I have no problem with saying no or if need be, slamming the door in the face of a particularly obnoxious person. It seems that I developed this skill very young – much to my mother’s delight – and as I was basically a very shy little girl (I WAS!), I am not sure why I was aggressive in this one area.
When my sister and I were very little, we were not allowed to answer the door – if my mother didn’t happen to hear the knock, we were to call her. But one day, the very bold Fuller Brush man didn’t ring the bell outside the screened in porch but just stepped inside (we always forgot that lock!) onto the porch and as it was summer the front door was open and there stood five year old me in the living room. He started to ask for my mother but I walked over and slammed the door with all my might. Professional salesman that he was, his foot had been in the door and as he howled and pulled his foot back, I proceeded to close and lock the door. When my mother came running, I informed her she could just ignore him and he would go away. She did and he did and I became the new greeter for the household. My mother, of course, didn’t have to buy a hairbrush for years as she already had such a backlog.
I did occasionally meet my match – or close to my match. The Tinkers* in Ireland fell in the close category. But they soon found that a visit to my farm meant their leaving, not with money in their pocket, but minus money and shaking their head asking themselves what just happened. I passed the patriarch of the local Tinkers in town one day as he was talking to a visitor from out of town. Paddy made a point of speaking to me as I passed and I heard the other Tinker express surprise at Paddy speaking to me, a member of the settled community. Paddy just shook his head and said, “Eh, sure, she’s a bigger knacker than you or I ever dreamed of being.” Some might have taken offense at that but for me, it was like winning the Academy Award.
Door to door holy rollers are no problem. I tell them I’m an Atheist and slam the door. I will give the Jehovah Witnesses a minute – on the porch, they don’t get in – as The Watchtower and Awake! do make for interesting reading. I once came close to being sucked in. I was at my mother’s house down in Florida, and she was out, when two old ladies came to the door. I assumed they were friends of my mother and as they chatted, my only thought was get rid of them before they decided they wanted to come in and wait, so I was only half listening. Suddenly one said, “Do you think we will ever have peace on Earth?” I realized I had been had but quickly recovered and as I slammed the door in their face I informed them, “Not as long as there is one Irishman and one Englishman left.”
So if you have a cause or a product to sell, a word to the wise, don’t come knockin’ on my door.
* Tinker is no longer the politically correct term, you are supposed to say Travelers. Huh? Traveler? So they travel… And do what? At least Tinker implies they have a trade.