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The Scrivener: The Knock On The Door

Brian Barratt, irritated by folk who, uninvited, coming knocking on his door has put up a sign which politely requests purveyors of religions, churches, cable TV, mobile telephones, knife-sharpening, tree-lopping and financial services to GO AWAY NOW.

For more of Brian’s thoughtful, humorous and ever-engaging words please click on The Scrivener in the menu on this page.

And do please visit his stimulating Web site The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

If there is one thing more irritating than people phoning you with inane questions in the middle of a meal, it is people who knock on your front door when you are concentrating on some brain-straining mental task.

‘Good morning, we are visiting everyone in this street to tell them about the glorious salvation offered by the Lord.’
What can you say to such people? It is arrogant of them to assume that they are closer than I am to the Lord. It would be rude to assume that I am closer to the Lord than they. It is also rude to close the door in their faces. After all, they are fulfilling the demands of their faith, poor things.

I became particularly annoyed when the glorious salvation had to be broadcast down our street several times in one month. The offenders always had black or brown plastic, imitation leather, brief-cases, bulging with leaflets and books.

‘We are here to tell you about The Coming Events’, and they waved one of their infernal leaflets or magazines at you.
Now I’ve been through all this before, on many occasions, in my evangelical, Bible-thumping youth. I used to have earnest discussions about the meaning of the Book of Daniel and the implications of the Revelation of St John the Divine. When a fundamentalist friend asked me, ‘Do you plead the blood?’ I was finally so repulsed by the whole literalist approach that I gave up the company of such people.

I understand that the standard way to deal with door-knocking messengers of glory (or damnation) is to say, ‘Sorry, but we are Catholic’ or ‘We are Jewish’, but I surmise that that only encourages them in their zeal. Here, after all, they have a prime target for their salvation message. I developed two other techniques.

For many years, it was customary for some of these people to bring a child with them. You can see them, if you spy through the curtains, allotting each side of the street to a couple plus a child. When you go to answer the door, the first person you see is the child. They know that no normal person will use offensive language in front of a child, or say what they really think if they are infuriated by the callers. One has to restrain oneself and maintain a measure of decorum and politeness. I had my response ready.

‘I am not interested in what you are selling. Furthermore, I object in the strongest possible way to the manner in which you are using this child. It is tantamount to child abuse.’
It worked. They look sheepish, and depart.

The other method is more subtle, but I stopped using it many years ago because it might technically be illegal.

‘Thank you for calling.’

That surprises them.

‘Thank you for calling. Do you have a referral?’

That stumps them.

‘I’m afraid I can’t see you unless you have a referral for psychiatric counselling from your GP or family physician.’

Their little book does not tell them how to deal with such a rebuff. Now that I have put it into print, they may just develop a form of words to handle it. But I’ve already dealt with that possibility.

There is now a sign on the door which politely requests purveyors of religions, churches, cable TV, mobile telephones, knife-sharpening, tree-lopping and financial services to GO AWAY NOW. It works. Except that I forgot to include estate agents in the list. One of them slipped through the net only a couple of weeks ago. They’ll never dare to do it again.

© Copyright 2007 Brian Barratt


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