I Hate You, [insert State name here]

I can always tell when the political atmosphere is heating up because my phone rings off the hook from various parties: “Unavailable,” callers identified only by state names ranging from Texas to Michigan to California, someplace called Telefund Inc., and Gallup Polls. I generally never answer these, though one Fundywhatsit phone bank was so offensively persistent that I finally answered, waited until the caller asked for me by name and told him to please stop. He was calling “on behalf of” WETA, the public broadcasting outlet that runs the local classical radio station — which I gladly support with a ten dollar monthly automatic donation.

This is the curse of being glad to support anything; worse, of supporting anything and living in one of the richest Zip Codes in the nation. People with a cause to fund see you as a sponge to be wrung dry, even if you personally are not doing much more than pay your bills with your bare hands. And now they all have computer diallers and they call you forty times a day until whatever campaign they are working is concluded. At the height of one such arc of interruptions I found myself flinging a throw pillow toward the telephone, shouting “Fuck you, Michigan!!!!” And I’m on the Do Not Call Registry.

This Zip Code thing is a minor martyrdom. The longstanding local paper even sticks a thing on its masthead, to attract advertisers, saying it serves “the most affluent communities in the Washington DC area.” Thanks loads. Along with the phone crap all year round, in warm weather we get the door to door people, hell bent on juicy pickings. Religious hucksters have respected my No Solicitors sign since I put it up, but I still get the odd charity-cause importuner, legitimate and otherwise.

The screwball who knocked on my door last night was wearing a polo shirt engrossed with an embroidered logo, something about the Community Services Board of some township downstate — Hampton Roads, Roanoke or Norfolk, I forget (because of the terminal K sound I am always mixing those last two up so it was probably one of them). I was getting started with a new client and shooed him away, feeling slightly rattled and saying something like “I work out of my house and am with a client so it’ll have to be another time.”

He must have been watching for the minute my client left because he was right back at the door, knocking “Shave and a haircut” (I hate people who do that) as soon as the car was out of the driveway. I ignored him. He shaved and haircutted two more times and then went away.

Tonight I had a long dinner break, and sure enough, there on the porch was old Shavey Haircut — a trim black man who had not been shaving many years himself, sporting a laminated necktag: Entrepeneur Sales, and asking if I were “the owner.” Of the house I guess.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I am not interested in people coming to my door to raise funds or sell me things.”

“You told me to come,” he insisted. He waved the tag around, giving his name (as God is my witness) as Michael Jackson, and quoting my unfortunate phrase “another time.” I pointed out the No Soliciting sign and explained its meaning in words of one syllable. He began to raise his voice. “You said come back another time and now I think you’re trying to make a joke out of me!” The pepper spray was handy on the sofa table. “Okay, you need to leave now,” I said in a loud level voice, illustrating the concept by gesturing in the direction of Gone with both forefingers. “Well you told me to come back and I wouldnta come back but you making me into a fool–” “You need to be gone.” This time I added a pinky finger, for extra apotropaic effect.

He continued sputtering about the apparent permanent injury to his amour propre I had inflicted. “Do you want me to call a policeman?” I overrode him. What exactly he hoped to accomplish at this point was unclear. He slouched off and up the street, still fuming.

I called a policeman. Actually I got a policeman and a policewoman. She did a fruitless driveabout looking for Shavey Haircut around the hood.

“Every year when the weather gets warm we get inundated by these guys,” said Guy Cop. “They don’t have a permit anyway, it’s illegal for them to even knock. We can summons them. Thanks for calling.”

“I don’t usually feel the need over people who knock on my door, but he wasn’t wrapped too tight,” I said.

I checked the locks on everything after the cop left, just to be sure. I probably have thirty pounds on the little fucker, and Capstun, but who needs the grief.

At least it makes screaming at Michigan seem like a minor nuisance.

I need a Zip Code transplant.

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13 thoughts on “I Hate You, [insert State name here]

  1. My shop was on the ground level of a little building just a half block from the Metro station on Wilson. The solicitors, the bums, the talk your ear off, but buy nothings would come in all the fucking time! My partner would (and for too long before I came along) endure them. I would not.

    “May I see your solicitor’s license please?” “May I see your Arlington County Business license please?” “You don’t have one?” “Then you must leave my shop immediately.”

    “Please leave now.” Leave now or I will call the cops!” “Nine, One… Have a nice day!”

    We got a reputation as “motherfuckers” in only a matter of months after I settled into the store. The dispatchers didn’t like our calling either, but then they were always a work averse crew.

    Me and the guy who ran the 7-11 a couple of doors down learned to work together on this too. My bums were his problems too. The solicitors were typically hustlers. They’d be back to shoplift another day.

  2. I actually LIKE to get calls from political pollsters, because my opinion carries unusual weight as part of their small sample. Usually, nobody wants to hear my opinions.

    Anyhow, got your problems solved. First, get rid of your land line, and use a cell phone as your only phone. This is so cool, it will impress your tech-savvy friends. And you save money by having only one phone. Solicitors don’t usually call cell phones (yet), although some automatic dialers are so sophisticated that they dial random numbers, and sometimes hit a cell phone by accident.

    As far as people knocking on your door, simply rent an apartment with the entrance in the BACK of an ordinary-looking single-family house. Even bill-collectors with a court summons can’t find me, unless my front-door neighbor gives me away. It works better than being in witness protection.

    • Um, those are all great ideas for someone who doesn’t have her land line number printed on 25 years of business cards and doesn’t need to own her own property in order to do business out of her home (as the zoning is here). Also, I can’t see a cell phone well enough to work it efficiently. Quite often callers have gone to voice mail before I have figured out how to answer the call.

      Seriously, people who have moved away and then back into the area after ten years get out my old card and call that number. So it’s worth the assholes, but they are still assholes.

      But I’m not being sarcastic — none of those ideas are intrinsically bad. I can see it working for plenty of sufferers.

  3. Yep, I wasn’t really being serious. Not practical for most people to move to a secret location. Just happened to me by accident. Ah, old phone numbers are a rare treasure that can’t be replaced!

    Not easy to maintain any privacy in this high-tech age. And we haven’t even mentioned the dossier that google has on each of us.

  4. One of the (many) joys of living in a first floor apartment (by which I mean the first floor above ground level, not the ground level itself) in a block with a main door intercom system is the complete absence of door-steppers and sales people.

    But I did get rid of my land-line about 4 years ago since the only people who ever called it were trying to sell me something.

    I now get similar calls at work on my office extension which must somehow or other have been included on some list. I am terse and frigidly British whenever importuned thusly. It usually works a treat 🙂

  5. I almost got rid of my landline when I moved, but now I’m glad I didn’t because, with my new provider, I no longer have to pay extra for it and – curiously – the telemarketing calls have all but stopped. Also, all my national calls are free on the landline so it’s cheaper than calling places on my mobile.

    Like Woo, I don’t get bothered by anyone knocking on my door as I live in an apartment, but a few years ago some JWs got into the building where I used to live and knocked on my door. I was so shocked that my response was an abrupt: “who let you in here? you’re not supposed to be in the building – get out!” at which point the about faced and shot down the stairs and out the front door.

    I don’t know why trespassers think they have a right to invade your home and I don’t know anyone who welcomes unsolicited visits or phone calls.

    You should get a tape recording of a large dog barking and play it LOUD when these creeps come to the door. Hell, even use it to answer the phone when you suspect telemarketers…

  6. One of the advantages of living in a smaller community and off on a private road is that I get few solicitors. I tend to ‘hide’ from them but with a wide glass front to the entry way that requires me to literally hide which feels a little odd in one’s own house. I guess I have confrontation issues; I dislike being mean… in person, call me for a solicitation and I’ll dump your ass off really quickly!

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