Just say no

If you want to see some extreme passive aggressive-ness in action, just send someone to the Johnson’s front door. Someone trying to sell something, that is. Or a Mormon slash Jehovah’s Witness.

If ever there was another married couple so inept at uttering the word ‘no’ to someone at the front door, well, I’ve not met them.

There was the young salesgirl in Nashville, Tennessee, who came to our apartment’s front door. Selling ‘Pumpers Trust‘ a magical cleaning solvent that was so harmless, you could eat it. A fact she eagerly demonstrated by spraying the cleaner onto her hand and licking it. If memory serves.

It was thirteen years ago.

Jason couldn’t say no and wrote her a check. The next day, having had time to ‘think it over’ we called back and canceled our order. Two days later our car was covered in black spray paint.

Coincidence? Probably.

There were the Mormon students in Muncie, who came to our house one day when I was on my own. Thinking the professor would enjoy a discussion with them, I asked them to come back another time. They came back when Jason’s parents were eating dinner at our house. So we asked them to come back the next day. Only we’d found a babysitter at the last minute and went on a date.

I left them chocolate cupcakes in the mailbox, with a note of apology.

Only, Mormons have a thing about caffeine, don’t they? Or, at the very least, are probably leery of homemade baked goods left in a mailbox.

Then there was Yi. The Chinese student selling educational books. He sat at my dining table trying to elicit enthusiasm for learning from a very unresponsive Gort. I liked the books but given the enormous piles of children’s books downstairs, I wasn’t too keen on acquiring more. But he’d been sitting inside my home for fifteen minutes and I felt an obligation towards him. So I told him to come back when Jason would be home (and I would not).

And Jason told him to come back when I’d be home and he would not.

So yes, rather than just tell poor Yi – ‘no, we don’t want your overpriced books,’ we made him come to our house. Three times. And bought nary a book from him. I’m guessing he hates us a little bit. Rightly so.

Then there were the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They’ve stopped by our house at least three times now, each time bearing an assortment of pamphlets, which Jason accepts. Last Saturday, they stopped by around 10.30am. We were all still in our pajamas, lazing around in the living room. Playing ‘Memory’ most likely.

I saw them coming and ran to the kitchen. They knocked and Jason opened the door. ‘Are you striving?’ they asked. From the looks of us, I’d have safely assumed there wasn’t much striving going on. They left us with an ‘Are you working too hard’ pamphlet. Which made me laugh. I doubt anyone who knows us worry that we ‘work too hard’.

Which brings me to Monday night. There was a knock at the door. It was between 9 and 9.30pm. Given the late hour, I assumed it would be a neighbor – maybe we’d left our headlights on. Or maybe we’d dropped one of our wallets on the sidewalk.

So imagine my surprise when it was Cody. A college-age student with a very unusual voice, selling newspapers.

After 9pm?

Jason walked down the stairs at precisely the moment I opened the door to hear Cody announce (in his peculiar voice) ‘Hi, I’m Cody!’ and promptly dove into his office. I was on my own for this one.

I was so surprised by his voice, and his mission that I missed most of his spiel. He was talking and all I could think was: ‘do not laugh……is this something I could feign interest in, but say I need to think about it? Or does this require a decision (payment!) right now?’

Turned out he was selling a thirteen week trial subscription to the Calgary Herald or Post. For $2 a week. Which paper did I prefer, the Herald? Or the Post?

Seeing as I’d never read either paper, I couldn’t really say. But I chose the Herald.

And next thing I knew, I’d written him a check (cheque!) for $29, he’d handed me a receipt and told me to expect my paper within 2-3 days. Or 3-5 days. He said both. That much I remember.

Thursday morning, I opened the front door and found the first of my thirteen weeks of newspaper. ‘Mmmmh, I wonder how many of those will even make it out of their rubber hands,’ the professor remarked. Snidely.

I grabbed the paper and opened it in the van. I read a headline about possible tuition hikes at the University of Calgary. And a couple who’d adopted a two year old boy from Haiti.

‘I just got my money’s worth,’ I gloated. Take that!

‘But you only read the headlines?!’

It’s more than I would have read if it weren’t for  my very-own-personal copy of the Calgary Herald.

7 thoughts on “Just say no

  1. I have been known to hide and not answer the door when it looks like they are selling something…or if they have already spotted some member of the family, I open the door slightly while announcing, “I am NOT interested. Goodbye.” and close the door without giving them a chance to answer (as the mormons last saturday found out)…not the warmest of receptions.

  2. We have the same problem. Earle says I can’t say no, but he can’t either. One college girl we both gave the run around..and I finally actually told her no…then she asked me if I had a granola bar or sandwich she could eat…so yeah, that made me feel terrible and I raided my cupboards and handed her all of our snacks.

  3. I shouldn’t confess this, but it’s really easy to use your absent spouse as a scape goat. “Well, Yi, I would normally be interested in [overpriced, underwritten] children’s books, but MY HUSBAND would be absolutely irate if I signed up for anything. I really don’t want to upset him.”

    I think about half the solicitors to Chez Jones think I’m an abused wife, and most of them cannot leave fast enough. Screaming children in the background probably help set the tone.

    With religious people this might not work as well. I guess in those cases my husband would be “violently opposed” to faiths beyond our own.

    I also invoke this same angry husband whenever I’m shopping and they offer me a credit card or anything else.

    Jim thinks it’s a riot.

  4. Carrie’s story above is even more sad and pathetic. Oblivious to what the other was doing, we each told this poor girl to return at a more “convenient” time (i.e. a time that would leave the other spouse alone and forced to fend off this panhandler alone). This was done at least 3 or 4 times and this poor girl kept coming back. To make matters worse, over the 2 or 3 weeks that this happened, I would constantly see her at least 2 times a week at the Tim Horton’s I frequented each morning to get my daily coffee. In my shame, I would do my best to hide my face for fear of her recognizing me and either accosting me right there in Timmy’s or calling me out for the cat and mouse game Carrie and I seemed to take such pleasure in putting her through.

  5. Amy – clearly you’re the sane (if not exactly welcoming) person here. Open the door say: no thanks, goodbye’ and be done with it. The rest of us are not. Adrienne, you should know Jason did that the other day. The bank called and he told them: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t make the financial decisions around here,’ and told them to call back when I’d be home. (I don’t even have the password to our online bank account.) Earle, the thought of you hiding out at Timmy’s made me laugh. Out loud. And Carrie, the fact that you gave the girl some snacks is just priceless.

  6. If memory serves she sprayed the cleaning solution DIRECTLY INTO HER MOUTH. It was a david sedaris “disguuusting” moment. you shouldn’t be forced to make decisions based on your gag reflex kicking in. The JWs are just these two daper old men in hats who always remember my name, maybe next time I will offer them snacks and tell them my wife beats me when I talk to strangers..

  7. I also have order things and then cancelled them in the light of the next day and sanity.

    Gord hates it so much that I am actually forbidden (a joint decision to be honest) from letting them darken my door.

    But I feel bad because for the langest time my grandfather was the door to door salesman.


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