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:

  • tbrannies

    The signs are hilarious. My kid’s almost 13, but is it wrong that I have them up anyway? I don’t want my nap interrupted.

    By the by – I used to sell magazines door to door. It’s a total scam. Sorry to any of you that I sold them to – I found out too late.

  • thatlydiagirl

    This is why the ringer on my doorbell has been disconnected permanently, since Sophia was an infant. A necessity, in my tiny house.

  • i am glad to know we are not the only family who hangs “sleeping baby – dont knock” signs on our doors. that is the worst when the doorbell goes, and the bell itself is loud enough to wake the dead, but then you have a little psycho dog (which we do) that goes frigging balistic at the same time. Ya- those & sleeping babies dont mix well. It definitely makes you want to blow someone’s head off. I like your sign better btw- its the point across so much clearer.

  • That is f–king priceless! 😉

  • Heather, I’m so totally going to make one of those signs. F–kin hilarious.

  • Door to door Mormons scare the fuck out of me! I had a pair come once to the house, and I made the mistake of talking to them. After that they came back twice a week for a 4 weeks! Once they came when I was in the dining room, I saw them pull up, and my mom was upstairs. She’s screaming… “Mary Jo, answer the door.”, and I’m hiding under the dining room table. They never came back.

    When I moved to Indiana they got me coming out of the library. Standing next to my car, and so I told them about my unfortunate encounter in Ohio. They thought it was pretty funny, but I still spent 10 minutes trying to escape them.

    Last night I saw them at the mall. Two guys… white shirts, black pants, backpacks, and the book. They were looking around the food court trying to find someone to entrap. When Matt spotted them, he pointed them out to me. We left the food-court immediately.

    When I see them walking down the street I make the sign of the cross at them. You know… to ward them off. HAHA Door to door Mormons… scariest thing ever.

  • and where can I find a sign like that? Although the evil one in me sometimes likes to challenge the religious solicitors. It can be a great stress reliever.

  • off the current subject here – – I’m curious now… how many pairs of Clogs does Jon own, anyhow?

  • OMG, that second sign soooo says it all.

    And I laughed so hard when I read it, I nearly woke up my little one, who’s sleeping!

    So maybe your post should come with a warning sign!! 🙂

  • so funny. man, when I read a post this good it is like eating a piece of chocolate cake off of Heidi Klum’s stomach…

    thanks for the treat Heather.

  • My mom always invited them in to join her in saying the rosary.

  • that sign is f—ing awesome. luckily the town i grew up in had a no soliciting law. every so often we would get some jehovah witnesses or someone that crossed over the city line which was right down the street. it was alaways nice and easy to open the door and say “i’m sorry, but were you aware that theres a no soliciting law here? no? well there is. buh bye now!”

  • thleen

    Great sign, Heather.

    When I was in college, my room mate and I made a really nice door mat that read “NO PSYCHOS”.
    Needless to say, someone stole it. F-cking psycho-kleptos.

  • How embarrassed am I that I know an US Weekly subscription really does cost $60…?

    Love the sign. The Jehovah’s Witnesses come around our neighborhood frequently and I now tell them quite pleasantly “I’m really busy right now saluting the flag and celebrating my birthday but if you’ll come back in about half an hour, I’d love to tell you all about it.” (My mom teaches kindergarten and those are two of the classroom activites that the JW’s kids’ parents wouldn’t allow them to participate in…) That usually leaves the door to door people stammering for a response but I think I’m going to go with your sign from now on…is that copyrighted or anything?

  • You crack me up. You say the things I think but never say. I admire you.

  • toddlermama

    I put up my sign during the last Presidential election. My registration as an Independent apparently involved inviting every recognized and cracker-jack political group to knock on my door and beg for my vote, and then the survey crew (PIRG, for Public Interest Research Group) would come too, asking me to sign petitions. The day after the sign went up, an PIRGer rang my bell repeatedly. The poor lost girl looked as though I’d taken a switch to her when I asked her which college she attended — The College of New Jersey — and then asked if she had to read to attend school there… followed by “WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE IF YOU READ MY F**ING SIGN?” As she backed away from me, she said, “Your sign says No Solicitation. I’m not a solicitor.” So now my sign reads “No Soliciting, and PIRG, this means you, too.” Can’t use the “motherf**kers” that I wanted to put in there because my six year old can read. Feh.

  • LOL!

    Dooce, you absolutely rock. 🙂

  • dyanna

    When we moved into our house, I immediately put this magnet I bought in the middle of the door that reads, “BE NICE OR LEAVE”. My husband didnt think it was very humorous but I insisted. It now sits on the top right corner of the door. I still get solicitors but at least they’re nice… and my child is a deep sleeper which also helps.

  • TxSuzyQ

    There are times the “Kick’em in the balls” approach is totally necessary. Naptime… kids, or mine, is one of them.

    I endorse this method!

  • I love you and YOUR sign.

  • An US Weekly subscription now costs $60?

    I live in the smallest house in a really posh neighborhood and there’s a group of kids who do not live here who come by every now and then to solicit.

    My husband and I are always tempted to ask them, “Do you see how small this house is? If we had an extra $60, don’t you think the first priority would be to fix that shingle that’s missing from the upstairs window?”

  • If you wake the baby I will have you put to sleep!

  • millerbiere

    “If you ring this doorbell and wake our napping children, you will get to visit God sooner than expected” also works well in the visual communications department.

  • shannon

    where the f**k is the f**king sign jon made?!?!? can anybody just f**king tell me what it f**king says?? how come i can see all the f**king pics in the whole f**king blog and not that f**king one???
    fanks, fanks alot.
    jeepgrrri@aol.com

  • thejoyof

    It’s official.

    I love you.

  • Is this why you won’t let me in, no matter how many times I ring the doorbell?

  • far and away the farthest

    Why do we even have doorbells? The sound they makes lifts you two feet off the bloody couch. I have never lived in a house so large that I couldn’t hear a knock at the door.

    It would be a nice touch if you could have a video of people reading the sign and sloooooowwwly backing away from the door. Maybe instead of ‘have a nice day’ it should end ‘Keep your hands visible at all times.’ It would make the videos even better,

  • I am so glad to know I am not the only person who doesn’t answer the door if it’s not someone I know. Usually we know it’s a solicitor just because someone is knocking at the front door (because the way parking is at our house, everyone who has a legit reason to be here goes to the back).

  • amy: Hmm…I usually just turn the ringer on the phone off and let the answering machine get it if my kid is taking a nap.

    Novel idea eh?

  • hidypitts

    perfect

  • That same lady came to my door a week or so ago. Was she a blonde lady who seemed realllly cracked out? She made me uncomfortable – very very fidgety.

    It was really hard to get her to leave. She was relentless. But luckily she only woke up my cats, so it was no big deal.

    Had it been my sleeping child? Death to her.

  • Lora

    Man, I sure wish I had that second sign when my son still took naps. It is priceless!

  • melinda

    Go Heather!!

    For the reporter and the wife of the cable-guy: While I realize this is like walking up to a group of people talking about you or your loved one, think VENTING! 😛

    Back to topic–I was nice *once* to a JW. He returned the next day with a posse to try to convert me (I’d just come home from the hospital after surgery and was delerious) So, several years later when I was living in an apartment complex and some knocked on my door, I explained the ‘No soliciting’ sign at the front gate. They claimed they weren’t soliciting, so I called the office and they were trespassed!

    Finally, thought for those magazine peddling kids trying to get out of the bad neighborhoods. Point out that they ARE out of that bad area and none of us are entitled to overseas travel just for selling a few magazines!!

    ok…now I’ll go back to LMAO over the sign. cheers!

  • gabip

    Heather, that is F–cking awsome, your sign gets my vote.

  • gabip

    PS. I love the pic of Jon watering the yard with Leta strapped to his back, now that is a serious husband and father.

  • can you sell those on cafe press?

  • gabip

    PS. I love the pic of Jon watering the yard with Leta strapped to his back, now that is a seriously rockin husband and father.

  • My neighbor, very sweet, always knocks so hard I think it’s the cops with a warrant. And she always wakes us after just dozing off into to a light carb-Tivo-comma around 9 pm. My husband always jumps to answer, without looking out the window, as I’m like NOOOOOOOOO because I’m always bra-less, startled, think it’s one those magazine hustlers — and he doesn’t KNOW who it is and he just opens the door. Hasn’t he seen Friday the 13th? And we do live downtown where our neighbors have actually reported watching TV, while someone slipped in the back and took their keys and purse and drove out the driveway with their kid in the car (well, practically). So you don’t just open the door like it’s Oprah and the Wildest Dreams Bus.

    And with that fierce knocking you’d think my neighbor’s house was on fire and then it’s: Can you help me lift a XYZ out of my car or can you put my entertainment center together or can you snap my shoulder back in. GAWD. I love her, but she’s got brass ones!

    Considering trip wire for the porch…

  • Susan

    About two years ago I created a sign for our front door and it works! It reads:

    Please! No Soliciting, Selling, Promoting and such.
    We know our faith and our political affiliation. And God knows we have enough stuff. We appreciate your intentions, but would appreciate your respect for our privacy even more. Thank you!

  • Mack’sMom

    A way to really send door-to-door sales people into a stupor is to say, “Someone was already here yesterday. I bought ______ from him. Sorry!” Now you’re not stingy or mean!

    When people call to sell things I always say I work for a similar company for the product they are pushing. “I work for Anderson Window so I get them at a great discount! Thanks!”
    The key with telamarketers is to keep them on the phone, if time allows. They get paid by their volume, so if you hang up fast they just move on to the next phone number. If you really want to have fun with them play that your interested, ask a lot of questions. Make yourself sound like a sure thing! Trust me, they’ll be one pissed off cookie once you do hang up!

  • Mack’sMom

    SUSAN…I like it, I will make sure I make one tonight!

  • how subtle…

    ha!

  • I have to go with Jon here. Why? Less egg to wash off your car come halloween time.

  • Nice font. Is that Meta?

  • Nice sign.
    We had a couple of college-age guys roaming our small-town Iowa neighborhood one late night last year selling magazine subscriptions. My dad politely got rid of them (holding back a large black labrador, no less), but we later found out they were canvassing to rob someone, and had harrassed other neighbors before and after us. The cops ended up telling them to leave town, as there was a rule against soliciting at that time of night, but I locked the doors after that!

  • Ah, suburban living. (Un)fortunately, I live in a neighborhood where people shoot first and ask questions later…which tends to keep the door to door sales down considerably.

    It doesn’t however stop the cherubic Mormon boys from knocking on my neighbors’ doors. They only go to certain houses though – is there some complicated algorithm by which they decide where to go?

  • I found out last year after two of the “I’m selling magazines to learn how to better communicate” guys scammed me that their program is pretty much a scam for the kids doing the selling. I mean, you will get magazines, but the kids selling them are getting screwed.

    Most sign up after answering some vaguely worded ad like “See the country! Travel for free!” and then are subjected to high-pressure techniques to get them to agree to go. Then they’re shipped across the country and told they have to earn their trip back by selling a certain number of subscriptions.

    That said, I am fond of sign #2. 🙂

  • I would have liked to have borrow either one of those signs yesterday.

    When delivering fliers, why can’t people deliver them into the mailbox? Why MUST people peer through my uncovered windows, see me peacefully reading on the couch, and then send their CHILDREN up to ring my doorbell, rouse my ass off the couch, to TELL me everything that’s on the flier, then hand it to me?

    GUH!

  • This reminds me of a few years back when my friend thrust her camera right into my face and took a photo (blinding me in the process). Close up “WHAT THE FUCK?” shots aren’t exactley the most attractive, but she then decided that she’d stick it on her front door with a sign underneath is saying “No soliciting, or i’ll unleash the beast.”

    When I went to pick her up for prom, me and the rest of my friends nearly fell through the door laughing.

    You should use the second sign..!

  • And that’s why my boss has kindly asked me, repeatedly, to leave no more ‘welcome’ mats anymore in the corporate toilet. Even if we both agreed that some ‘ladies’ were crass, the potential image and financial damage for our business would have been immense, with clients potentially needing to check the loo that opened its doors to a mat like ‘I f******* believe that we are not “just” asses’, or the likes.

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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