the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Welcome mat

When Leta was four months old I scheduled my days into ten minute increments so that I had something to look forward to: the next ten minutes, which meant that the previous ten minutes were over. Each increment brought me, step-by-step, closer to that magical moment when Jon would come home from work, and I could hand him the baby, walk out the front door, and sit on the sidewalk in front of the house to plan the escape I would never make. I could go down the street this way, toward Iowa and maybe get a job at a gas station where I could sell air fresheners in the shape of Christmas trees. Or, I could go that way, to Burger King. The options, they were endless.

It was during this vulnerable time that a teenage boy knocked on our door and sold me a magazine subscription. He said he was trying to raise money for his high school baseball team, and that if I wanted I could have the magazine subscription made out to a kid at the local children’s hospital so that he would have something to read while being treated for cancer. There was no way I could have foreseen that this was a scam because one, I hadn’t slept in four months, and if someone had come to the door selling breathable air I would have paid them for it. Two, the opportunity to give a dying child his own copy of US Weekly? HERE’S MY CREDIT CARD. What could be more uplifting than seeing photographic proof that celebrities are just like us, that even if we become wildly successful and famous we still have to pump our own gas? Celebrity tabloids, the great human equalizer.

When Jon got home that night I told him what I had done, right before I walked out the door in the direction of someplace else. He didn’t need to shake his head in disbelief because I felt stupid enough, particularly about the fact that it had taken me several hours to realize that a subscription to US Weekly wouldn’t ever cost $60, and that the kid in the hospital enduring chemo, he couldn’t care less that Jessica Alba carries her own groceries.

As someone who grew up in a religion that relied heavily on the door-to-door marketing plan, I have always tried to be nice to people who make a living this way. My brother served a Mormon mission to Quebec in the early 90s, and he often wrote home with stories about how he had spent weeks walking from house to house in the snow and no one would ever open their door. Sometimes people even threw things at him — shoes, books, and once a very large rock — and although I’m now a homeowner who hates being pestered by strangers peddling religion, I don’t agree with that reaction. But I can certainly understand the sentiment as it gets the point across without having to actually shoot anybody.

For several months we had a few signs taped to the door that read NO SOLICITING and DO NOT DISTURB. And they worked, the sales people stopped knocking on the door, but the tape eventually peeled and fell off. Since then we have just stopped answering the door if we don’t recognize the person on the other side. In the off chance that I accidentally open the door without checking first, Jon gave me a script to memorize to make things easier: “Hi. I’m sure you are a nice person, which is why you should get off my porch before my husband comes home and scars your face with a ball point pen.”

Last week during Leta’s naptime someone rang our doorbell only thirty minutes after she had fallen asleep. And it wasn’t a simple, friendly ring. It was a belligerent, vulgar ring that needed its toenails clipped. A DIIIIIIIIIIIIIING DOOOOOOOOOONG where the hard Gs rattled the dessert plates above the sink. Chuck flew through the house and knocked over two chairs on his way to the door, and Jon quickly ran to silence the bedlam. Leta woke up instantly in a mid-nap funk, her entire neck and chest covered in sweat, with a chorus of screams so big they could hardly fit out the opening in her mouth.

The girl at the door was selling magazine subscriptions for a program that was designed to help her communicate better with eye contact and body language. “How am I doing so far?” she asked Jon after he had stepped out onto the porch. Jon handled himself like a civilized adult, and although he had every inclination to show her how his clogs could be flung instantly from his feet like a cannon, he told her he wasn’t interested, thank you anyway. And then he immediately came inside and made a new sign to tape to the door:

If I had made the sign it would have looked more like this:

  • shannon

    2006/06/27 at 9:56 am

    how come i can’t see jon’s sign?! i can see every blessed picture but that one…can someone paste and email to me??
    ps…heather’s sign is what we all REALLY want to hang on the door =)

  • Kelly

    2006/06/27 at 9:57 am

    Those kids who sell magazines to go on trips are always super charming and polite, to the point of even flirting with old ladies like me (I’m 31). But the minute I tell them no, that warm smile goes away and they get this look on their face that says “I know where you live.”

    Also, there are lots of neighborhood kids who are “friends” of my daughter who love to play ding dong ditch. Yeah, freaking hilarious. Little bastards.

  • Angela

    2006/06/27 at 9:53 am

    Ahaha. A better sign than yours I have no yet seen.

  • Sarah

    2006/06/27 at 9:53 am

    LOVE this. I am making that sign (your sign, of course Heather).

  • shannon

    2006/06/27 at 9:55 am

    how come i can’t see jon’s sign?! i can see every blessed picture but that one…can someone paste and email to me??

  • la_florecita

    2006/06/27 at 9:56 am

    Good font choice.

  • Urs

    2006/06/27 at 9:52 am

    i vote for the second sign

  • RDZ

    2006/06/27 at 9:53 am

    My dad used to invite the LDS/Witnesses/Girl Scouts/Baptists/magazine sellers in and give them a glass of water or whatever. But before they started their spiel, he’d excuse himself to “go get something to keep his hands busy while he listened” and come back with his .22 rifle and cleaning kit.

    Good times.

  • Kim

    2006/06/27 at 9:48 am


    This is my first comment to your site. Let me tell you, that sign is genius. That is how I feel EVERY single day. Our next baby is due in just a couple of weeks and I am just waiting for the stupid little neighbor kid to come and knock and knock and knock. I will eat him for breakfast! Here is an idea, do what we did – disable the doorbell!!

  • jes

    2006/06/27 at 9:50 am

    Your sign is SO MUCH MORE SUBTLE that Jon’s. Good job.

  • rivetergirl

    2006/06/27 at 9:49 am

    We get a lot of Mormon missionaries since we’re just a couple hours east of SLC. Heaven help the poor missionaries that come to our house. My husband loves to invite them in, offer them beer and/or soda and then talk to them about whatever happens to be on his mind at that give moment — often it’s music, scary punk rock music which he insists on playing for them. Then when he’s grown weary of their company he asks them to leave … never haven given them a chance to give their speil. They alwasy seem so dazed and confused when they stumble out our front door, eyes all squinty in the light and ears full of dangerous music.

  • Z

    2006/06/27 at 9:48 am

    Wow. I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone knock at our door to sell something. I can’t imagine it happening enough to warrant a sign. But trust me, if it woke the baby even once? It would most definitely warrant a sign.

  • Elle

    2006/06/27 at 9:48 am

    Your version is the winner at my house.

    An aside, given your good taste I’m sure your hubby must be a darlin’ in every other way, but he gets anymore joyful and triumphant over this clog thing and you’re gonna hafta cut ‘im.

  • Erin

    2006/06/27 at 9:47 am

    Ha! We have one of those signs taped to our front door, too! (The first one. I, too, suggested a sign more along the lines of the 2nd one, but my husband said no.)

    Because if I can get my 3 month old to take a daytime nap, LORD HELP anyone responsible for waking her up.

  • KaraMia

    2006/06/27 at 9:48 am

    My mother always had us sleep near the tv…it works
    I could sleep through a plane crash…lol

  • lisa ann

    2006/06/27 at 9:43 am

    your sign rocks heather.

  • anna nic

    2006/06/27 at 9:44 am

    If Jon’s sign doesn’t work, make a huge print of that picture of Chuck with his teeth bared and hang it on the door with a sign next to it, “Rabid Dog Inside. Attacks at Random”.

  • Liesl B-F

    2006/06/27 at 9:45 am

    Mostly, I’m impressed with how incredibly clean that glass is. Tell us, Heather, how do you maintain that streak-free shine?

  • monkeyaker

    2006/06/27 at 9:46 am

    All through college I had a welcome mat that said simply “Go F— Yourself.”

    I never got solicitors. Added bonus, my parents wouldn’t come visit.

  • susies

    2006/06/27 at 9:42 am

    My mom has a beautifully cross-stitched little pillow hanging on her door that says “Go Away”. Wanna borrow it?

  • Jenn

    2006/06/27 at 9:37 am

    Your version is so much better.

    There was an article in one of the papers on Sunday that said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were trying to knock on as many doors as they can in the metro area to tell people that the end of the world is coming and to invite them to their convention and now I’m living in fear that the doorbell will ring. Can I borrow your sign?

  • Alana

    2006/06/27 at 9:36 am

    I love your sign, Heather! I have a little No Soliciting sign hanging above our doorbell, and it works fairly well. The only problem is that we have a glass front door, so by the time you see who is there, you’re obligated to open it.

    I have a four-year-old who loves to open the door, especially when I am in the bathroom. I was trying to get rid of the Schwan’s guy this spring, and I tried forbidding my son to go near the front door. That didn’t work, so the next time, I grabbed him, and we huddled on the stairs when the guy rang our door. We pretended to play a game, and we finally got the guy to leave us alone. I know, I could have just told him that we didn’t want anything, but I’m too much of a sucker. I already have a freezer full of high-fat stuff from them that we don’t eat!

  • PinkPoppies

    2006/06/27 at 9:35 am

    Like your sign totally wins, and totally rocks. Your husband is too polite…

    My baby (now almost 7 boo hoo) no longer naps but I once ran out in slippers and nighties in the snow (!)and waved a shovel at some kids that thought it was totally amusing (NOT!!!) to fling snowballs so hard they broke a window and woke up my baby. GRRR.

    And I agree, to new moms, sleep is the new drug of choice. So door to door saleperson, “back away slowly and no one will get hurt!”

  • Tiggerlane

    2006/06/27 at 9:35 am

    Heather wins the sign war!!

    Seriously, though – I think the prospect of a hideous baby-hippo-head clog hurled at the offending party would be an equal threat.

    I always feel badly for the LDS boys who come knocking at our house. My husband always wants to use the opportunity to lambast them for temporarily brainwashing his wife and attempting to lure her back into the fold. I usually let them know up-front that I’m a voluntarily excommunicated recovering Mormon, and that I’ll let them guess what sexual depravity I committed to achieve that status within the church. Always good, coupled with a kind smile!

  • Wonked

    2006/06/27 at 9:33 am

    The sign is clever, but you need something a bit more viral.

    I prefer to answer the door clutching a bottle of lube and a tassled whip clad in nothing other than cowboy boots and a red sox baseball clap.

    I don’t get repeat visitors.

  • Julie Thomas

    2006/06/27 at 9:32 am

    I once read that Katharine Hepburn had a sign on her door that said “Please Go Away.”

  • Muffin

    2006/06/27 at 9:32 am

    Yeah those people working on their communications skills have come to my house twice. I try to be nice but I generally tell them I’d like to go to the Virgin Islands myself so I’ll be keeping my $60 but thanks for offering to let me help you.

  • tsans

    2006/06/27 at 9:31 am

    by the way, a subscription to US Weekly does cost $60. it goes up in july. so sad that i know this, but i just renewed b/c i wanted to keep the lower rate. guess i’m a sucker, too!

  • gin

    2006/06/27 at 9:31 am

    This sign is a beautiful thing! I love Heather’s edited version. My friends actually hooked a little shocker thing to their doorbell so you get zapped each time you attempt to ring the bell.

  • Skorky64

    2006/06/27 at 9:20 am

    I sold Girl Scout cookies for thirteen years, and the sales time was always in January. Bless those neighborhood ladies that let me step inside and warm up while they dithered over their Trefoils vs. Samoas.

    And yes, I *had* to beat last year’s record each time. I hated those girls whose daddies took their forms to work.

  • Lily

    2006/06/27 at 9:27 am

    I would use your sign, and at the bottom add the quote:

    “I’m a donkey on the edge!!”

  • kendall

    2006/06/27 at 9:25 am

    that sign is loltastic.

  • Arty Steph

    2006/06/27 at 9:19 am

    Yup, I totally dig Heather’s sign 🙂 Of course, I just never answer the door. . .but then again, i just have an obnoxious dog, no baby 🙂

  • Kevin Worthington

    2006/06/27 at 9:18 am

    Is that a real sign? Or Photoshop? I can’t tell!

  • Penny Rene

    2006/06/27 at 9:18 am

    I’ve been wanting to hand out cards (in very sweet typography) that read:

    I’m sure you do not want a bullet/shoe in your ass, which is why I am politely asking you to take your
    -loud motercycle
    -car stereo
    -beeping truck

    to another country far from my baby. Sleep is like crack for us and I will do anything to get it.
    I am not afraid of you.

    Thank you.

  • Jill Shalvis

    2006/06/27 at 9:17 am

    Your sign is waaaaay better. I need to make me one of those.

  • Jill Shalvis

    2006/06/27 at 9:17 am

    Your sign is waaaaay better. I need to make me one of those.

  • Kiki

    2006/06/27 at 9:17 am

    My roomies and I live next to the Volunteers of America. Homeless men trek over to our group of townhouses selling whatever. I am not a door opener, but my roomies are. They have a hard time resisting the cute, dirty old man outside. They write checks. Suckers.

  • Katie

    2006/06/27 at 9:16 am

    I have to agree that your sign is much better. So few people get a subtle message–a message with more intensity and a higher danger level is best. I also agree with Jlemm that it needs a “have a nice day” at the end, though I’d change that to include “have a nice f–king day.” Ahhhh..perfect!

  • Furious Redhead

    2006/06/27 at 9:15 am

    Very nice. I always wanted to frame my cross stitch sampler that says “Fuck Off and Die” with the cute bunnies and doves and hang that on my front door. I’m sure the little old ladies in my neighborhood would approve!

  • Candice

    2006/06/27 at 9:14 am

    Signs like Jon’s don’t work. I put one up on our door, and people rang anyway. We eventually just disconnected our doorbell.

    I would’ve liked a sign like yours. Of course with my luck, the day I put it up is the day my pastor randomly stops by for tea or something.

  • vwsista

    2006/06/27 at 9:15 am

    Such a lovely sign, Heather. I’m sure yours would work much better.

  • Sunni

    2006/06/27 at 9:15 am

    Something tells me that your sign would be much more effective.

    I have a no soliciting sign on my office door but I fear I mistakenly used invisible ink since the copy machine and office supply salesmen can’t see it. When they enter my office I say, “Damn, did I use invisible ink on that no soliciting sign again?” They laugh, thank me for my time and leave.

    But enough about me, I love your sign!

  • Huts

    2006/06/27 at 9:13 am

    Love your sign. We’ve had several run-ins with sales kids trying to go on a trip somewhere by selling magazines. It’d be cheaper if they saved the money themselves. I actually took back a subscription order from them. I had been stupid and my kid needed food. They weren’t happy.

  • Torrie

    2006/06/27 at 9:13 am

    Yeah, I would totally use the second sign.

    We have a sign that says “This house is maintained for the comfort and security of our animals. If you don’t like it, please GO AWAY”

  • napangel

    2006/06/27 at 9:11 am

    I like your version so much better!

  • carrisa

    2006/06/27 at 9:12 am

    Yes I vote for Heather’s sign. Hey, at least you had the courtesy to edit the bad words…

  • Jeni

    2006/06/27 at 9:09 am

    Yeah, I think I’m partial to your sign.

  • Jlemm

    2006/06/27 at 9:11 am

    The second sign needs “Have a nice day” at the bottom. Or maybe “Start running – I’m reloading.”

  • Kassi Gilbert

    2006/06/27 at 1:19 pm

    My husband sells cable service door-to-door. It is the hardest, most grueling job that he has ever held. His pay is based on how many sales he brings in (i.e. commission), he has a quota to make, and if the technician doesn’t install the service, he gets penalized.

    Our bills are paid by his efforts. He works so that I can stay home and raise my kids instead of a stranger, who will most likely abuse or neglect them (which we have experienced).

    He works this job to feed us, clothe us, and otherwise make our lives as liveable as possible. Unfortunately, the state in which we live has the highest unemployment rate, and jobs (good paying jobs) are hard to come by unless you are an engineer. My husband is not.

    So, he does this job…and every day comes home to tell me what repugnant, belligerent, jerkholes people are to his face EVERY DAY–just because he knocked on their door. That’s what doors are for…most have knockers for this very reason…and looky there, a sidewalk leading right up to it.

    Several people in his department have had to take time off of work for sick leave due to the stress. A co-worker of his died of a heart attack-job related stress.

    So, I say…yes put up the sign. Especially if it saves you from having to be a total jackass to a hardworking, unsuspecting human being trying to feed his or her family. And if it saves the sales person from having to deal with such in return. At least the sign keeps everyone peaceful…and out of the hospital.

    By the way, this by no means implies you or your family are repugnant jerkholes, and I do not like to be solicited any more than anyone else. But there is a way to do it and a way not to do it…and unfortunately most people don’t have the social skills to handle this situation tactfully.

    I’m all for the (first) sign. If they knock or ring after that, then they deserve whats coming to them.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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