©2000 Bonnie Wren
The Bell Tolls for 90 Days, Same as Cash
My neighbor Thelma and I were chatting over my gazanias when a station wagon careened into the cul-de-sac. It did a 180 and screeched to a halt, blocking off the entrance.
The doors flew open and two little girls in uniform and their mother shot out.
The girls headed in opposite directions for the houses on either side of the street. The mother stood her ground as another car bore down on her.
"No!" she cried out, waving her arms wildly and shaking her head. "No! Not this one! My girls got here first! Go away!"
The two drivers exchanged heated words. The second car backed out and burned rubber to the next cul-de-sac.
"Oh, dear," said Thelma. "Cookie sales are cutthroat nowadays, aren't they?"
Residents of any new housing development quickly discover they are just so much sales territory peddlers can stake a claim on. About two months after we moved in my husband and I were reviewing the mountain of advertising left by salespeople.
"Look," I said, holding up a handful of brochures. "These are all decorators and landscape architects who don't want us to make the wrong decisions. And here," I held up another handful, "are all the maids and gardeners who'll keep those decisions neat and tidy."
Hubby held up his own collection. "Take your pick," he said. "We can replace our brand-new windows with vinyl, metal or wood; put in stained glass; cover them with blinds, drapes or plantation shutters; and tint them or wash them."
Just then we were interrupted by a door-to-door newspaper salesman. We informed him that we were already subscribed.
"When do we want cable installed?" I asked when we sat down again. I held up four brochures from the cable company, each with a different sign-up bonus.
"Let's hold out until we can get it for free."
The doorbell rang again. An artist was selling a pile of his paintings. He wanted $50 each but we showed him. We got two for $95.
"We're going broke," said Hubby later. "We've got to get tough."
"I'm way ahead of you." I said, holding up a sign I made. It read "No Solicitors." We tacked it up over the doorbell that night.
The next morning the bell rang twice. The first guy asked me what "solicitors" meant. After I told him, he promised me academic success for my boys if I purchased his reference books.
The second salesman apologized for pushing the button before he read the sign. But since I was at the door, would I be interested in a time-share condo at the beach?
I put up a bigger sign.
It didn't stop the couple who wanted us to join their church. I told them we attended another church. They insisted theirs was better. I finally admitted to idol worship in the back yard. (Not true, of course--we hadn't even landscaped yet.)
I rewrote the sign to read "I do not discuss business, charity, or religion at my doorstep."
That afternoon one of my neighbors called. Her child was distraught because she came over to sell me frozen pizza for her soccer club but saw my sign.
After promising to buy two dozen pizzas, I amended the sign to say "I do not discuss business, charity, or religion at my doorstep, unless I know your mom."
The next morning I opened the door and came face to face with a cellular phone held aloft by a stranger.
Over his shoulder I could see a truck parked beside my gazanias, marked "Joe's Frozen Foods".
"Good morning," said Joe. "Allow me to introduce my mother."
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©2003 Bonnie Wren. All Rights Reserved