The other day I responded to a knock on my front door and found a woman from ADT (a home security company) on my doorstep.
I was already going to say no to whatever she was offering because I always say no to people who come to my door and ask me for things (unless they’re offering Thin Mints, of course, or are my neighbor showing off the new princess tutu she just made for her daughter), but then I was Extra-Bonus going to say no to her because the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh, do you get a lot of snakes right here?”, while pointing to a corner of my front porch.
Now I know there was no way she could have known that in the whole entire Universe, nothing frightens me more than snakes, but surely they must cover this kind of thing in Annoying Random Strangers At Home School. There must be some sort of handout or something, like, “Conversations That Lead To Sales: Do’s And Don’ts”, or, “Hey, Stupid-Head: Phobias Aren’t Funny!”
Maybe she was absent that day, because she followed that outstanding conversational opener with a little snake-related anecdote intended to help us bond. She apparently also missed the class on reading people’s body language, because she interpreted the look on my face as an invitation to keep talking. So since it was lost on her, and since I’m apparently feeling a little passive-aggressive today, I thought I’d share our conversation, along with all the subtext I’m sure you would’ve picked up on.
“Don’t worry, I’m not a salesperson,” she said with a bright smile.
(Attention all people who rush to reassure us that you’re not salespeople: saying that doesn’t make us feel better. We know it just means you’re going to ask us for something that will involve giving you money later, instead of giving you money now.)
“I’m here because of all the recent robberies in the area.”
(Forgive me if I feel that these most likely exist solely in the minds of your advertising department. Also, please. Do you really think I’m stupid enough to fall for your transparently manipulative scare tactics?)
“So my boss assigned me a 2-mile radius, and I need to find five homeowners who are willing to let me place a sign in their front yard.
(I refuse to put bumper stickers on my cars; not even the funny ones that feature cats. There’s no way in hell I’m letting you turn our front yard into a giant, living commercial, especially since you’re manufacturing this so-called threat.)
“That way,” she concluded earnestly, “when your neighbors hear about all the burglaries they’ll look around and see our signs, and then call to sign up for our service.”
(No, I will not help you profit from our imaginary pain.)
As much as I wanted to say these things out loud I chose not to, because she was just doing her job, and that was no reason for me to be mean. So I just smiled and said no thanks.
Although now that I think about it there was one thing I probably should have said, a bit of constructive criticism that might’ve helped her succeed at her next stop, and this of course would be,
“Lady: next time, don’t lead with reptiles!”