I was eating dinner with my family and enjoying the winding down time. The evening had come, it was getting dark, and it was just about time to give my babies a bath and get them ready for bed.
Suddenly, a loud knock sounded on the door. Our quiet, little idyllic evening was shaken. My mom, my dad, and I all looked at one another in surprise. The door banged again. Each of our individual hearts leapt because, although this was happening at dinnertime, it was not the cadence of our usual, unwelcome intruder. No, this knock was different, more unorganized, but with a similar urgency.
“Don’t answer it!”
“Don’t answer it!!”
“Don’t answer it!!!”
We were used to this spontaneous, anxiety-producing, dinnertime panic and had made a silent pact that we would no longer answer our door during dining hours. We used to resort to dimming the dining room lights so low that my mom and I would experience a wave of sadness similar to something that a Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferer might feel. But, my dad was adamant that it was the only way to keep our dinnertime stalker/old friend of the family who had become a nuisance, from suspecting we were home. (Of course, the three cars parked in the driveway and the various candles glowing in the window might have been a tipoff, but there was no use in trying to argue).
However, we all soon became confused. The incessant knocker kept going. Suddenly, the knocking moved away from the wood on the door and onto the panels of glass that form a window on top of the door. “Maybe it’s your brother!” my mother threw out, in an obvious panic. “You told him to knock on the window if he wants you to answer”. (You see, my mom, as with certain other members of my family, has a hard time sitting behind a door, when someone comes a knocking, and not feeling compelled to answer—no matter what lurks on the other side).
“Yeah, but I meant the living room window,” my father retorted, trying to keep cool, but the alarm in his voice was rising. I was holding a baby, but something in that small snippet of dialogue made me realize, maybe my uncle had assumed he was supposed to knock on the window of the door and he and my dad had never clarified the secret knock…and what if it was him, after all, on the other side?
“I’ll go check,” I declared, almost heroically. “I’ll just peer through the living room window and see what I see.” I skulked into the living room and sneaked a glance out the window.
“He’s leaving and it looks like it’s just a kid,” I shouted out, excitedly and relieved. “I have no idea who that was, but he’s getting into his car and he’s leaving.”
As I moved back to the living room, we were caught off guard once more. The ‘kid’ must have seen me, somehow, from the window, because he had come back and was knocking harder than before.
“Jesus Christ,” said my dad.
“I’ll get it,” I ventured.
Without even thinking, I cracked the door open. It was dark out and I had to adjust my eyes.
“Hi!” crowed a young man, far too enthusiastically. “Would you like to win a thousand dollars, just as easy as can be?” Before I realized what I was doing, I opened the door to receive the homemade ‘voucher’ that he was thrusting into my hand. Once the door was open, he snatched his chance. “I’m Frank, what’s your name?”
You know what? I couldn’t believe it. Had I really answered the door, allowing this ‘dude’ to swindle me into accepting his bogus, ‘you could win!’ card? I mean, it’s hard enough to go door to door selling something real…hoagies, candy bars, oranges. But this? Had I had a few more seconds to think, I could have given him a piece of my mind.
However, as soon as he opened his mouth, I’d detected a lisp and that’s when my machismo disappeared. I guess I’ve got a soft spot for that kind of a thing.
So, instead of saying something witty or clever, I gave him a stern, disapproving look and batted his junky shard of paper back at him and retorted, “We’re really busy right now,” made eye contact with his crestfallen face and lightly slammed the door shut.
Back in the dining room, my family and I looked at one another. “I bet he was casing the joint,” my dad barked out fearfully.
“Hmm, I don’t know,” I said, “Maybe, but it’s hard to say.” I was beginning to feel bad about giving the guy with a lisp a hard time. As messed up as his pitch was, I still felt that sympathetic understanding of rejection. You know, that thing you feel from irritated homeowners when you peddle useless items door to door in a desperate attempt at making miniscule money for your ‘cause’.
Anyway, for whatever it’s worth, I’m glad I got this off my chest.
Depending on how you look at it, there are two possible lessons:
Never answer the door… ever.
Or, don’t forget to be kind. Karma’s a b**ch.