The door bell rang. I ran to the door and opened it, something I NEVER do. I am religious about opening the door only if I know who it is. This time, however, I was expecting something in the mail, and it was the time of day the mailman usually comes, so I thought for sure my package had arrived. I was in the middle of making an apple pie and had company when I unwittingly opened the door without looking first to what was obviously not the mailman.
He stood about six feet from the door. The moment the door flew open, he began rattling off in slang that I had a very hard time understanding. I waited for a full five minutes. The gist was that he was in some sort of program that helps guys like him stay out of gangs, trouble and prison, and didn’t I think that was a good program, and wouldn’t I like to buy some magazines to help people like him stay off the streets?
“Are you serious?” is what I was thinking.
To me, what he was saying sounded a whole lot like, “Buy magazines from me or I may come back and rob you blind.” I put on my best smile and said “No, thank you” four times, before he left. This is taking door to door sales to a whole new level! Next time I open the door, I’m going to have alarm, pistol, and mean dog at the ready!
Note: I have a friend that was slightly offended by this post. Let me just add that there are legitimate programs like this that do help people. And maybe this was legit, but it did actually feel threatening. I live in the city, and there have been lots of break ins in our neighborhood that have been tied to fake door to door “sales” people so I am definitely leery.
Elizabeth Grimes says
A lot of times magazine sales are scams anyway, so its probably a good thing you didn’t buy any!
We had the same guy come by a few days ago… it was a really weird way to ask for money, telling us about all the crime on the street that “their” program helps. We offered him dinner and wished him well. I wonder if we should get a “no solicitation” sign or something. We have a ton of door-to-door people lately.
I am glad you were not home alone!! I don’t have a peep hole of anything on my apartment door so I get nervous when anyone knocks!
Nancy Sullivan says
In this unsettled time, door-to-door is neither safe for the resident nor the sales person. You were within your rights to protect your home and to not encourage this type of business.
Nancy @ A Rural Journal says
Whether legit or not, it’s your choice whether to let this person into your space.
We’ve had a few of these people visit our farm, and quite frankly, I do not like it.
It’s your blog and your story. Yes, there are some things that quite frankly should be left off blogs regardless of who’s it is, but this story is not one of those types. It reminded me of a slightly scary yet much later humorous event. My mom is also always saying never open the door unless you know who it is…you know, “if they are important, they will give us a heads up.” So one day when I pulled in the driveway after running to the store for a quick item I needed, I found it odd to see my mom standing there with a “salesman” at the door. I got out and walked up and let myself in the door, quickly realizing all that he was saying just didn’t add up. The way my mom was standing barely having the door open, I stood next to her. Well that one item I had run to the store for was wrapping paper, so without the man seeing I was nudging my mom’s leg with it, trying to get her to pick up on the fact not to buy the magazines and get the door closed. After a minute, she wasn’t picking up on the hint and said, “will you quit hitting my leg.” I thought for sure my family would awake to find me dead meat in my bed the next morning! I think she “bought” the magazine out of fear as it kinda seemed like buy a magazine or else…and of course, we never saw got that magazine subscription in the mail.
I don’t open doors either unless I know someone’s coming and that would be scary! Little kids selling candy and magazines is one thing, but a gang member towering over you is threatening whether it’s legit or not… we live in a scary world and you have reason to feel uneasy about that visit!
I would’ve been creeped out, for sure! We live in the country, so maybe don’t have *quite* the crime rate, but country people get robbed/kidnapped/molested too… and since I’m a mom, I’m always on guard. Glad you guys were okay!
Oh, I went and listened to that song by Demon Hunter after you mentioned it. I’m sure it’s a nice song, but I have to agree with you — just a little too much “noise” for me!
I would have been creeped out too. I do not like to answer the door when I am home alone and we live in a rural safe area.
Stacey McCastlain says
I don’t find your post offensive. We’ve had a few incidents where the person selling a magazine or cleaning product became a little bit scary.
No, it’s not offensive to me. That would actually depend on the person reading in how they interpret the whole incident. We have all had someone at our door selling something and believe me I hate that too. You were simply talking about what they were trying to do, not who it was. I hate crap like that at my door too!
My pat answer for door to door salespeople and also phone solicitors is that I am unemployed. They don’t need to know that it is by choice.
I live in the country and I always want to see who is at my door before I open it.
I agree with the poster who said it’s is your blog and your post. I didn’t find it offensive, but that’s just me!
Honest and real. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Susan Evans says
As a former rape victim, I never open the door unless it is a family member or friend. I shout, “No, thank you; have a nice day!” in a firm voice that is final. My husband owns guns and has taught all three of my boys to shoot. (My 10-year-old is a sharpshooter, as he often hits 20 out of 20 bulls eyes!) A few weeks ago a neighbor told me he saw three dark figures in my backyard at midnight. If anyone breaks into my house, he’s dead. I’m not afraid, and there are no second chances.
Nope – lived in the city and had a drunk man break into our home when I was home alone. Thankfully my dogs kept him away from me so I could run outside. I still shudder – and enjoy living in the country now!!
I’m not offended. I, too would be skeptical at someone coming to my door, asking me to buy magazines from him. It’s funny because I’m like you, very leery at opening the door unless I’m expecting company.
Not sure how this would offend anyone. I was certainly not offended. You did what was right for you at that time.
I often say that I am unemployed as well, Marlene, and it’s not by choice (well, perhaps it is since I technically “could” find a job, but not what I am looking for).
I had something similar on Monday and I look through my window and told him I had no money and he said that they mostly take credit cards or checks. HE looked ANNOYED I was unemployed.
I think giving charitably is so important for one’s own self discovery and great fulfillment can be had when giving to those less fortunate; however, the kid could be driving off in a BMW and living in an affluent home.
(people may find MY post offense…hahaha!)
Robert Fabel says
You can only offend those that wish to be offended, you don’t look like you could offend anybody even if you tried
Esther, I’m pretty sure we actually know that guy. He was messed up with drugs and the law, somehow traveled to different cities and sold magazines, and is now in jail for the 20th time or living under a bridge. So yeah, I’d stay away from those guys.
Nic P says
The post itself is not offensive, but the attitude behind it might be. Simply put, I feel the focus should be on the short sightedness of opening the door. Once it was open, he was doing what he came to do.
Would it have been better for him to just say “Hey I’m down on my luck, I need to feed my kid, I don’t know where else to turn, but I’m really trying to stay out of trouble”. Would that receive any better response? How hard would that be for you to say to another human being. What if you were desperate enough to have to steal food, would you feel good about yourself?
My point is, that you don’t know what other people are walking through, the only thing you can do is be careful with yourself…which in this case, as you admitted, for whatever reasons, you simply fell short.
Truth is, if someone wants in your house to do you harm, I don’t think a door, shut, locked or otherwise will stop them. So I doubt his intention was to harm. He likely wasn’t taught the social graces, manners, safety and ‘THE RIGHT THING’…because he may well have just been focused on his own survival.
What I would take from this, is a sign, to remember that life isn’t so easy for some, and to take some time out of your day to help someone else, someone who isn’t suburban elite.
I don’t know why anyone was offended. You just described your feelings. And to him you said, “No, thank you,” not “Get lost.”
we don’t live next to alot of neighbors so i don’t open the door either-i’d be nervous too because i’m alone all day long-it’s hard to always be wondering about someone, hate that we have to do it, but better to be safe than sorry
Cara R. says
It is always intimidating to have a stranger at the door, especially if he (or she) has caught you off guard. There are much SAFER ways to support (or raise support for) a program that helps people stay out of crime. Going door-to-door to sell magazines (if that’s truly what he was doing) is certainly NOT the least intimidating way to accomplish the goal. And, honestly, it might not be the safest way for someone to try to raise money either. Just my 2 cents worth!
On occasion, various charitable organizations will set up outside our local Walmart. While this may still intimidate or annoy some shoppers, I find it much less annoying and intimidating than if someone were to actually show up at my door. At Walmart, at least it’s a public place and the display table itself gives me some information about what is going on. If I have cash on hand, I consider it a blessing to be able to help out. But, seriously, DON’T COME TO MY HOUSE!
We live in the county on 10 acres surrounded by woods at the end of a private drive. There’s a reason I like it here – PRIVACY! We also have a dog. It is VERY hard for anyone to sneak up on us, but one day it did happen. DH was outside working and, for whatever reason, the dog was too far away to notice the meat market van that pulled up. It was very unnerving to realize that someone actually drove all the way in, got out of the van, and made it to the door without any of us noticing. People have to make an EFFORT to come back here. So, they are either here by “invitation” (this would include mail delivery, utility workers, etc.), lost, or UNINVITED!
Mariana Mata says
that happened to me last night!!! i was in a parking lot about to get off and a guy came by my window to give me a flyer, it was one of those outcry barrio ones that are always passing out flyers so i just got it, then he went on to talk about how they need money to keep it going and anything can help. that was new!! i got suspicious and gave him a dollar so he could leave since i was alone and a bit petrified.
Samantha Bradley says
I think you are being proactive in talking about this and making alot of us realize that we are putting both ourselves, our property, and our children in jeopardy. Programs that use door to door sales are putting both the people they are trying to help and the people they are visiting in jeopardy. I am always concerned when I see people like this around my neighborhood as in the past, the police have alerted us (I am part of a Neighborhood Association) that child predators have been using this method to scope out homes with young kids and low security. I never thought about not opening the door. I guess I need to rethink our security now that we have small children.
thank you for posting this and raising awareness.
I can see why this post was controversial. There are alot of great programs out there that employ this tactic but, like you, even knowing that it still makes me uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable for anyone I don’t know to ring my doorbell. So I understand.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, should be offended by this post. You have every right to feel safe and secure in your home and to not be bothered by door-to-door “salespeople.”
Interesting post and comments. The only way that I could afford to go to college was through door-to-door sales. We worked 12 1/2 hours a day 6 days a week every summer during college. I did not like it, but I did learn a lot about people as well as their perceptions and/or miss-perceptions. In fact, I would probably say that I learned more about how to work with people from those year selling books then I did through all my years of college and grad school in the field of education.
I guess I look at it through a different lens. I know how hard door-to-door sales is and I appreciate that they are willing to sacrifice short-term personal comfort to try and get ahead in the long-term. I just appreciate that they are actually out working. I don’t judge plumbers, professors, doctors or ditch diggers…..as long as they are working and behaving appropriately. ….and for the record, most of the post did not “judge” the salesperson but rather discussed the fear they felt when a stranger knocked on their door, which I fully understand and support. We never know what others are dealing with and they don’t know what we are dealing with.
Just another perspective to consider.