Saturday, May 11, 2013

Door To Door

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you will know that my neighborhood sees a large volume of door to door solicitation. This week, I got two of the most interesting:

The first was a pair of Caucasian males in a pickup truck. I was outside mowing the lawn when I noticed their vehicle stop in front of the house opposite mine. The driver exited the truck and conveyed his desire to talk to me through gesticulation. Once I stopped the mower engine, he shook my hand and inquired as to how I was doing. This question was quickly followed by the statement, “You look like a man that can appreciate a good steak.”

In my experience, this statement is almost always followed by, “Son, have you considered joining the armed services?” It was either that or I was about to be asked on a date. However, it turns out that these two enterprising young men were distributing frozen meat products from their automobile. Before I could respond he had recited an impressive list of cuts (both steer and fowl) while assuring me that he had the best prices in town.

While I didn’t doubt his sincerity, I just didn’t feel comfortable purchasing a ribeye from a total stranger in a Dodge Ram. Furthermore, I couldn’t bear the shame of being hospitalized for food poisoning and being forced to admit, “Well it could have been that chicken breast Billy Ray sold me out of his glove-box…” Can you imagine the shame my newborn son would feel when he was old enough to ask what happened to his father and my wife was forced to tell him that my unwillingness to pay market price for ground beef had been my undoing?

I watched as he and his partner struck pay-dirt a few houses down where at least three consenting adults could be seen handing them money in exchange for plastic bags of what I can only assume was USDA choice. For the next several days I fully expected to see an estate-sale sign appear in their front yard.

The second, and most interesting, visitor that week was Eric. Eric was an African-American male in his late 20’s wearing a white button-up and necktie. He carried a small, black portfolio case and when I answered the door he introduced himself and told me that he was selling magazines and books on behalf of Inner City Sales, a company that recruited at-risk youth and gave them the opportunity to better themselves.

Quickly assessing me as a staunch middle class Republican, he emphasized that this sure was a better use of his time than “sitting around and collecting welfare or gangbanging.” I nodded as if to concur with his conclusion, and he continued that he had a young son he was trying to support through his earnings. From there the conversation went as follows:

Eric – “I am from New Jersey. You ever been to Jersey?”
Me – “Been to New York, but never New Jersey.”
 “Good, it is awful. Anyway, are you familiar with HBO?”
 “Uh, sure. Home Box Office?”
“Naw man, Help a Brotha’ Out! How about buying a magazine?”
“I really don’t need any other magazines..”
“I thought you might say that. Luckily for people like you we have the Double-O plan!”
“Double O?”
“Yeah, other options. What about books? Do you like books?
“I do enjoy books… What is the cheapest book you’ve got?”
“I got a book about turtles.”
“Yeah man, like sea turtles.”
“What does that run?”
“Well, that seems a little step for a book about tu….”
“Plus $10 handling.”
“Eric, I just can’t bring myself to drop $30 on a book that vaguely discusses turtles.”
“Don’t worry sir. Since you look like the kind of person who only wants to help others we can send the book directly to a children’s hospital or orphanage as a donation.”

While Eric’s salesmanship was polished and the program sounded admirable, I am not sure an overpriced book about salt-water reptiles is exactly the path to self-sufficiency. What are the odds he is going to happen upon the one household just chomping at the bit to get their hands on “The Sea Turtle Almanac” and a 2-year subscription to Conde Nast Traveler?

I do wish Eric and the beef brothers all the best and I hope that somewhere in town there is a family eating bargain priced filets as they marvel at the unparalleled longevity of one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures.

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