An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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:

  • fernicus

    I vote for your sign. It contains the word that we, the insane mothers of the world, utter most frequently when some moron dares interrupt our childs precious
    sleep with careless doorbell ringing.

    Legislation needs to be passed making this a crime punishable in an appropriate fashion. Perhaps being locked in a room with 10 colicky babies from the hours of say, 6 pm til 2 am.

  • trophywife

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only idiot on the planet that fell for the I buy the magazine and it goes to the kid in the hospital scam!

    I hope those people will end up scamming their way to get a pretty blue pill to keep their huge cell mate and his hole O’ love happy.

    The guy that scammed me only got away with $30, but he worked the whole neighborhood so who knows how many fell for it. I’m in GA so he must like to travel far and wide.

    I like your version of the sign better Heather. : )

  • HDC

    I think the overwhelming vote is for Dooce’s version. Though I’d have added a big picture of the meanest, bloodthirstiest looking snarling presa canario/pitbull hybrid I could find. That will drive home the point.

  • You know, I’ve lived in New Jersey my entire life and although we have had our share of kids selling fundraiser candy and magazines and gift wrap, and you can usually spot the Jehovah’s Witnesses coming a mile off (I pretend I’m not home), just the other day we had our first Mormons come a-knocking on the door. (Does anyone EVER let them in?) Between them and the non-denominational religious zealots who showed up just the week before… man, people must really think New Jersey needs some SAVING.

    Having no sleeping baby and not wishing to invent one, here’s my version of the No Soliciting sign:

    “Thank you for disturbing the peace and quiet of my home with your arrogant need to tell me how your particular brand of religion is the “right” one or to sell me some crap I don’t need. Be sure to leave a card with your home address on it so I can visit you at YOUR home during the dinner hour and spout off about my own beliefs. You now have exactly 15 seconds to run for your life before this porch self-destructs.”

  • I have the bottom sign on my door, right f–king now.

  • ” and although he had every inclination to show her how his clogs could be flung instantly from his feet like a cannon”

    LOL! Where do you come up with this stuff?!!!! I want to be clever like that, dammit!!!

  • Staci

    I put up a sign in my door (Baby Sleeping) and (Mommy too) so that when my UPS man delivers all of my GOODS…my dogs don’t go bullistic and wake my “sleeping baby”. Once in a while some other idiot will knock on the door and the whole day is ruined!! My dogs are just nuts when it rings!

  • I like the idea of planning an escape.. although, mine is 15 now so she could probably follow me 😉

  • What if the solicitor can’t read? You might need some kind of visual. Maybe a picture of your middle finger? Or incase some kiddies come to sell more $60 magazines, a picture of sick child in a hospital bed saying, “We already support sick kids with nothing to read.”

  • I need the second sign, but it needs to say that whoever pressure washes his fence or mows his lawn anywhere from noon until 2:00. The neighbor behind me does this at least weekly and it is always in the middle of naptime. Both kids sleep on the back side of the house too. Makes for a very looooong day.

  • Chloe

    Our doorbell has never worked. It’s wonderful. I highly recommend it. The only time I miss it is on Halloween because we do like to see the children, but the dog barks and that works for us.

  • Coolbeans

    Great post! Unfortunately, US Weekly does cost around 60 bones for a subscription. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and, though I’m addicted to the mag, I wouldn’t let myself subscribe because of the price, which equals to about $1.30 per issue….So, I keep buying it off the shelves for ~$3.50 per issue… ;( Anyway, the upside of your mag subscription experience? Perhaps some sick person did in fact get US Weekly magazines from you!!!!!

  • Is there soliciting when the baby isn’t sleeping? Because I’ve got some really neat wrapping paper I’d like to bring by sometime…. My kid is raising money for the PTA.

  • I think you should include a picture of yourself with your hair all crazy and one eye squintier than the other, maybe some cat food stuck to your face.

  • mediaguy74

    The sign should be one that is round with an arrow with different messages. So depending on your mood and all that, you move the arrow to the appropriate message. If that fails, I am in favor of the 2nd one. Much more poetic.

  • i’m definitely more a fan of the second sign.

  • Now that reads like a line from Pulp Fiction.

    Quentin Tarrantino would be proud.

  • I can only imagine what it’s like to be disturbed by anyone coming to the door like that.

    Thankfully this kind of soliciting (and panhandling!) are illegal in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, Ohio)

  • Your sign reminds me of one my mother has in one of her junk closets in her basement. It says something to the effect of, “You f- with me and you f- with the entire trailer park.”

  • dellladownunder

    Go on Heather, use your sign… you know you want to.

  • As someone who also once hocked my religion door-to-door, but is now a mother whose children take naps; I couldn’t agree more. Frankly, I’m more annoyed by the magazine kids than the JW’s. But that may just be me.

  • PixieMegh


    I’ll take Dooce by proxy. It would make for a good blog title too. LOL

  • Why would anyone want to solicit a sleeping baby? They never have any cash.

    That second sign says it much better.

  • Heather,

    Please put that sign on your door.

  • I say you should hand the next sales pitch a screaming Leta. They’d never come back.

  • Kristin

    THIS is why I love reading your blog. You rock.

  • Luckily, the only solicitation we get is the homeless dudes rooting through our recycling. And the occasional crack dealer. Do you think a sign like that would work on the crack dealers?

    “Does my doorway with its carefully potted though less carefully watered flowers look like a dark shady alley? No? That’s because you’re in the wrong goddamn place. Try across the street and two doors down.”

  • lolabelle

    I completely understand everyone’s angst about and anger toward door-to-door salespeople, but please consider that not everyone who comes to your door is trying to sell to you. I’m a reporter at a small-town newspaper, and my job often requires that I go talk to residents in town about their thoughts on a municipal issue or policy. Sometimes, the best way to do that is to go knock on a few doors.

    It is never my goal to disturb you or wake your child, so maybe you could reserve the profanity for someone who’s not just trying to do her job. Telling me you’re going to shoot me because I had the gall to knock on your door is a bit overblown. By all means, let me know that the baby is sleeping. I won’t ring the bell. But maybe I’ll leave my business card in the mailbox and ask you for a call back. Would that be so awful?

  • Warrior Knitter

    I knew I forgot to do something today. Thanks for the reminder. Instead of sleeping baby, mine says, “Grouchy homeowner won’t buy anything from you anyway.”

  • We have a similar problem with people ringing the buzzer on our apartment for the apartment downstairs.

    It always happens during naptime.

  • Aren’t you glad he got his clogs back? That’s a PERFECT use for them!

  • I said no to a magazine sales person once in college and later, whenever he saw me on campus he would yell out mean things.

    I like the second sign.

  • OMG…we have those people too. They got me twice in parking lots. The whole “I’m in this program blah blah blah if I win I’ll send you a postcard” spiel. Now with the kiddo having to sell subscriptions for school, it’s not a problem to turn them down.
    I’m kinda nasty with door to door solicitors. Mainly because we live in an apt complex with a whole “No Soliciting” sign on the door. I thought about putting a “This includes Jehovah’s Witnesses” at the end of it.

  • We have TWO no soliciting signs up and yet STILL people knock on our door at 9 am on a saturday, ask if they woke us, then continue on with their sales pitch.

    Im going to put up a sign that just says, If you knock on my door you are legally giving me the right to feed you to my hungry Saint Bernards.

  • rpgoodwin

    Are the solicitors who’re “working on their communication skills” to “get out of the inner city” all over the US? They’re thick here in SE Texas. I live in a suburb north of Houston and they come through about three times a year. They’re charming but extremely aggressive and make you feel like a heartless racist if you don’t listen to their spiel and buy their magazines. We actually had to point a gun at one to get him to leave last year. My question – is this a legitimate operation or a big scam?

  • Ang

    You rock. Keep your sign up!

  • patchuga

    Actually, I just thought of the perfect no soliciting sign….with apologies to Douglas Adams:

    Please do not ring the doorbell or knock on the door as a punch in the mouth often offends.

  • rpgoodwin

    Are the solicitors who’re “working on their communication skills” to “get out of the inner city” all over the US? They’re thick here in SE Texas. I live in a suburb north of Houston and they come through about three times a year. They’re charming but extremely aggressive and make you feel like a heartless racist if you don’t listen to their spiel and buy their magazines. We actually had to point a gun at one to get him to leave last year. My question – is this a legitimate operation or a big scam?

  • Goooder – same here (in France)! 5 days after moving into my first apartment in Paris, 15 years ago, the Jehovah’s Witnesses climbed 5 flights of stairs to talk to me.

    And last summer, just a week after I moved into my new house here in the Loire Valley, the doorbell rang and it was THEM!!!

    I swear they have some shady deal with the French White Pages where they get notified as soon as someone new moves in.


    Now, mass market those bitches so I can put one on my front door!

  • JennJenn

    I am laughing SO hard.

    I feel exactly the same way.

  • I used to live in a ghetto. The only people that knocked on your door were the cops asking me where I was 2 hours earlier.

    I wonder how it would work on a “J’Witness” sales staff?

  • PixieMegh, I was thinking “dooce by proxy” for getting fired for reading dooce at work…what do you think?

  • PixieMegh

    Oh. My. Freaking. Hell.

    ROTFLMAO!!!! Please use YOUR sign and hide a video camera… it’ll make for great laughs. I can see all the Utard Mormons (as the California Mormons *fondly* call them) falling over in spastic seizures.

    Heather, if I get fired for reading Dooce at work (getting caught because of my fits of giggles) do I get to be Dooce Jr? Or is that title already assigned to Leta?

  • Heidi Nelle

    Maybe at the end of your sign, you should’ve said “Violators will be shot, survivors will be shot again.”

  • That is AWESOME!! I want that sign!!

  • Yeah, your sign is way more to the point. And if someone still didn’t heed your sign’s warning, you would have every right to do whatever you felt compelled to with one of Jon’s hideous clogs. Those holes really make the clog streamlined and aerodynamic, and the salesperson would have to get a real good headstart in order to dodge it.

    I knew that clogs had to be good for something. Aside from being the ugliest things on the planet.

  • jw

    When I was a stay-at-home Mom in Nebraska, we had a system in our neighborhood called, “Mormon Alert.” You would answer the phone and hear, “Mormon Alert,” and you would hang up and call the next person.

    When I had my last Bundle of Joy I got a sign, much like those “Baby on Board” signs that read, “Sleeping baby. Please do not ring bell.” It didn’t work. So I hung is OVER the door bell. Still didn’t work. So we unhooked the bell.

    Now, on the rare occassion I feel like dragging my lazy ass to the door I will politely decline. Once. I will politely decline a second time. After that, it depends on the time of the month! Except for one. Malachi House is one I can’t resist and I will always scare up cash for them. If they got a portable debit-card reader I’d be in big trouble.

  • That’s amazing! I hope the sign keeps working. Sometimes people think that if they aren’t actually ‘selling’ something it doesn’t count as soliciting.

    Not so many solicitors in Massachusetts. Once in a while, but maybe like 2x per year.

    However, when I was in Tokyo the Mormons and JW’s were at my damn door every single week. Way more than I ever encountered in the US. I think they were always saddened when a white English speaking girl opened the door.

  • tk

    I think you should go with both signs on the door. But I think your’s should be decorated with flowers and puppies and kittens and stuff…

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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