Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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:

  • For us (in the French countryside) it’s the gypsies who come door to door selling baskets, while actually scoping out your house to steal all of its contents. I want your sign, but targeted to the gypsy population and in French.

    like “Take your f–king baskets and shove them where the soleil doesn’t shine.”

    I’m still working on it.

  • I wonder if it’s also to keep internet fans at bay 🙂 I have family in Utah, and so visit a few times a year, and I often wonder if you’d open your door to a fan if they came bearing booze and mormon war stories 🙂

    I figure clogs flying at one’s head isn’t the best thing in one’s day, so I’ve never let it go past idle wondering.

    (I also can’t bring myself to be rude, even to the missionaries come to question my current stance on the church (NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS?), when I’ve had 3 brothers serve.)

  • While I like your better, I think his is probably effective. Go to kinkos and laminate it though. Then it will still be there when she is ten. That would be funny.

  • Actually, I think you could market that sign and make a fortune.

  • I love your sign. The peeking through the curtains thing works, but only until the children are old enough to joyfully, and willingly, answer the door. I sometimes have to physically restrain the nine-year-old from letting in the religious zealots, she doesn’t understand that if they come in one time they will forever return.

    But anybody who wakes a sleeping baby -or worse, a toddler- should be punished in unheard of ways.

  • ricardipus

    Can I suggest one improvement to your (most excellent) notice?

    ‘P.S. Bite my *ss!’

    That is all.

  • patchuga

    Ooooohhhh, we made that sign (the first one) the day after we brought our firstborn home. Because we lived in a small Midwestern town, the PROUD HOMETOWN OF DANFORTH J. QUAYLE (and I couldn’t move out of there fast enough), and we were plagued by door-to-door evangelists and Kirby salesmen.

    Even with a sign, we often had the evangelists knock or ring the doorbell. One pair, two women with nameplates designating them as “Sister June” and “Sister Ruth”, were very persistent. Even though I was very polite and said that we already had a religion, thank you, they kept yelling at me as I closed the door that “You must not want to get to heaven!”

    Now we live in a town where soliciting is against the law, and I am very grateful. We get the occasional Girl Scout, but no evangelists.

  • AJ

    Hey, my brother served in Montreal in the late 80’s. Now he is the only one besides me (of my 11 siblings) who has left ‘the’ church. I figure most people only have 1 brother, so I am doing okay.

  • Charissa

    heather, your sign is my favorite. 🙂 We live in military housing, stairwell style,on the 4th floor, so we don’t get solicitors but lots of annoying little brats whose parents don’t watch them like to run around and ring the doorbell buttons at the bottom of the stairwell. I’ll go answer the door and no one is there, and it’s always right when I’ve managed to get my 2 year old and 3 week old napping at the same time. These parents also seem to think it’s a great f—ing idea to let their kids play on the playground behind the bedroom at 10:30 pm!!! thanks for giving me a chuckle today. 🙂

  • I am making that sign right now and taping it to my door!

  • textimage

    sorry heather, jon wins again. his use of both roman and capital letters is more considered in 4 words than your 28. two beating in a week? rough stuff 😉

  • AUGH! I thought this was just an Oregon thing! I’d never had it happen before until we moved up here, but I swear these kids ring our doorbell at the most annoying moments (think pajamas…no bra…). They always want me to shake their hands and “tell them how they’re doing”. Well, if your point is to thoroughly annoy me with talk of magazines that magically allow you to travel to the Caribbean, then yes, you’re doing quite well. Sorry, but kids coming to my door to hit on me, tell me about their huge dog, and about how their “drug program is giving them the opportunity to heal by selling people stuff” just doesn’t work for me, thank you, good day.

    Thanks for the idea, I’m going to make my sign now….

  • Shannon Seery | EXCELER8ion.com

    Our sign said:

    “You Wake Her…You Take Her”

  • If they came to MY door, I would totally make them watch the kids while I go to Dairy Queen. ‘Cause I need me an Oreo cookie Blizzard RIGHT F—CKING NOW!

  • I just realized that I got scammed. Thanks!

    Umm, where were you last month?

  • Like, omigod!

    I TOTALLY opened the door to a pair of Mormons one snowy afternoon in Quebec.

    I was about 15 and experiencing PMS for only the second or third time in my life, and I told them I was “busy,” and then immediately felt guilty because I was visibly just watching Anne Of Green Gables on TV.

    So I closed the door, watched them walk back down the driveway and went back to my movie.

    Note, though, that I was very nice about it, and didn’t throw anything.

  • I am in complete awe of Jon’s ability to be nice to that girl after that. “Program to increase communication skills” or not, I would have read her the riot act and traumatized her for life. Hey- maybe it would’ve been a valuable lesson in effective communication – Do Not Lean On The God Damn Doorbell Or People Will Eat Your Face Off.

  • JC

    good sign. going to make one now. (i also need to dismantle the doorbell, the one that rings for no reason and always at inopportune times.)

  • I’ve been much too nice to our local elderly Jehovah’s Witnesses for the same reasons as you are…the growing up in Utah thing.

    This is why I’ve been given a lovely invite to some kind of conference they are having in Odgen. Yay! Wait, I can’t go…I have to wash my hair and shave my chickens.

    They’ll stop knocking on my door around Halloween. I put up a fabulous display that includes several severed body parts.

  • keagansmom

    so when did u come by MY house????

  • dre

    Heather, your sign wins! I pity the poor fool who ignores it.

    While my husband was off work for a month I started noticing more and more solicitors knocking at our door. The icing on the cake was one Saturday – at eight fucking o’clock in the a.m. – when a couple answered the door and asked, “Is Adam home?” All I could think was, “Uh, who the hell are you!? And how do you know my husband’s name?”

    Needless to say he’s no longer allowed to answer the door. 🙂

  • Personally I think your sign is much more creative!! Also much more likely to get people to turn right around and run as opposed to walking…

  • Your sign is awesome. I think you should keep it up!

  • We must be in the same mood. You need a pop-up blocker like the one I just wrote about today. I have the idea, you have the brains, there’s gotta be a way to do it, right?? It would help THE UNIVERSE.

  • Stephen R. Smith

    This, right here, is why I love you guys.

  • Are you selling the second sign? If not, where could I get one, please. Thank you.

  • Dulcenea

    Clearly, Heather’s sign is the winner in the “label the insane homeowners” competition. Yay, Heather! 🙂

    What I really want to know tho, is which half of the conversation in yesterday’s “Nubbin” was hers. Really, I could argue either side.

  • If you’re selling your sign, I’m so buying it. I’ll even buy it on a trucker hat. Let me know when the Dooce CafePress store opens.

  • You might want to add something about flying f-ing clogs too…

  • I tried taping a sign like that to my phone. It didn’t work.

  • Is it wrong that I always invite the Mormans and the Jehovah’s Witnesses in for coffee?

  • lyssann

    As someone who trained people to canvass for candidates, we weren’t soliciting, so the signs didn’t apply to us. So, I told my people to knock anyway. However, sleeping baby should discourage them if they have any sense of decency.

    Oh, and because of said canvassing, i’m a door-opener, but I know enough to know which are legit or not. I had 4 mormons on my doorstep one day when I was wearing my stand up for choice shirt. If that didn’t confuse them enough, I told them that yes, I had read the book of mormon and No, I didn’t pray about it because I’m Catholic and we dont’ really believe in that now do we? I think they though I meant prayer instead of the book of mormon.

  • DannyHaszard

    Jehovah’s Witnesses door to door recruitment is by their own admission an ineffective tactic. They have lost membership in all countries with major Internet access because their false doctrines and harmful practices are exposed on the modern information superhighway.

    There is good and valid reasons why there is such an outrage against the Watchtower for misleading millions of followers.Many have invested everything in the ‘imminent’ apocalyptic promises of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and have died broken and beaten.

    Now if you wanted to know about the quality of a product,would you listen to the seller or a longtime customer?

    Danny Haszard

  • jagamom

    Heather your sign wins. I think you need to get your crafty friend to paint a few cute flowers on that sign. Then you could sell them to all of us who are also tired and begging people to not wake the 2 year old!

  • AEMom

    When I was on my maternity leave with my first. I would do the same thing. Except I counted in hours. 7 hours until he’s home, 6 hours, … He would call me to tell me that he was working only 30 minutes of overtime and I would burst into tears and cry hysterically that if loved me he would save me from my hell. Then when I was on maternity leave for my second, I quickly learned that the doorbell (or any other sudden noise) would wake my baby and I wanted to stab anyone DEAD for having the audacity to ring it while he slept! It never occured to me to make a note for the door (IDIOT!), but one of those people was indeed a “religion solicitor”. Me being the very polite Quebecer that I am told him that I was not interested and now had to go deal with the screaming baby that he woke up. I did not throw anything at him but boy did I want to. Actually, what I really wanted was for HIM to breastfeed the baby, lug him around for the next two hours and then walk him to sleep while I napped peacefully with earplugs on. That would have worked for me quite nicely.

  • SMKN70

    Love your blog, Dooce, but I vote for Jon’s sign. Yours is a bit redundant and boorish, sorry.

    My favorite memories–when the baby would FINALLY fall asleep (and stay sleeping even when placed into his crib!), I would blissfully get undressed and turn on the shower for the first time in 3 days, and then the tornado siren would blare for testing, ARGH!

  • Thats F#*cking great Heather, just brilliant !!

  • Mot

    LOL Those two signs provide a great contrast between the euphemism and what is really being said.

  • At university I always had those magazine people bugging me. The sign that worked the best was one that said, “No Soliciting unless you are selling WEAPONS or Girl Scout cookies.” It worked – no one knocked again until one day two little girl scouts were standing there giggling. (So, of course I had to buy some.)

  • Last night I was honored to greet one of those guys who jam flyers for bad chinese food in your door. He dropped the whole stack when I greeted him.

    Picture tomorrow on wonked.net

  • You know, I find that second one oddly comforting. I mean, you know where you stand on that one. The first one is almost too subtle.

  • personally, i say just rewire the doorbell to give the ringer a shock.

    baby gets to sleep, and you can have potentially hours of entertainment.

  • The second sign – way better.

    The first year I was married, I went to Target for 45 minutes and when I came home my husband had purchased a set of encyclopedias from someone who came to the door. Nice.

  • Shari

    I just love – LOVE – that you used the “couldn’t care less” phrase correctly instead of saying “could care less” because that’s just annoying. 🙂 Thank you.

    P.S. My husband will pretty much buy anything from cute little kids so I had to become the hard ass that says “no”. He’s schocked at how calous I’ve become, but after a 45 minute demonstration on a new “clean everything” cleaner a few years back, I had to change my ways. Cheers.

  • jeffy

    We have a sign sort of like that, and I have to say, the magic word that made it finally work is “unwelcome.” Our sign says, “If you are unexpected then you are also UNWELCOME. Please do not ring our bell.” We are down from one solicitor per week to one per year. They read that and just walk away!

  • JEM

    Our tactic: We live on a steep hill. So steep that we get a different mailperson each week since they all hate the delivery route up and down the hill. But, so…fortunately, does everyone else. It seems only the kids at Halloween are willing to brave the steeps and they are the only ones we reward.

  • I vote for sign #2. I need a sign like that. Darned scammy magazine salespeople…

  • MissKitty

    I absolutely hate those magazine subscription hawkers with a fiery passion. I got screwed over once because the guy told me I had a week to cancel and he’d still get his commission. After he’d left I realized I only had 4 days to cancel and he’d written two days ago’s date on the subscription form. Ugh. Now we don’t answer the door unless we recognize the person standing on the other side.

    And I want *your* sign, too.

  • katehopeeden

    I love, more than anything, that there is a “f—ing” on every. single. line.
    The only time I ever had anyone try and sell me something at my door, I was living in a security guard protected building and it wasn’t teens, it was a really obese early twenties male and female.
    REALLY OBESE.
    And they were all sweaty and asked for water.
    And I live in Texas, so I had to give them some because I think you can be arrested here for not giving someone water in July.
    Anyway, I canceled the check after they left.
    🙂
    ~K

  • Yes, I have done the same exact thing! I got suckered in to one of those ‘sweet looking’ highschool kids (really college aged) giving me the sob story that they are putting themself through college and trying to make money. My husband couldn’t believe my stupidity! Years later, we are still receiving HOME Magazine. I don’t think I ever read it…. uggh.

    Jill Asher
    Co-Founder, Silicon Valley Moms Blog