My mother raised me to be polite at all times. There were certain mores of behaviour that she instilled in me, and I guess they stuck pretty well, because I still cling to them today, sometimes even in the face of unbelievable circumstance.
For example, when mom and I would go to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner, I wasn’t expected to just help with the after dinner clean up. I was expected to do it all—by myself.
Likewise, growing up, if I was a guest in anyone’s home for dinner, and they served something I really didn’t like, too bad for me. I was expected to eat it and say, “yum yum, thank you.”
Maybe you could class that as a white lie, but I don’t think there’s any real sin involved in that one.
We lived out in a rural community all through my youth, the same one my beloved and I moved to after our first year of marriage. You didn’t often get any “traveling salesmen”. Oh, they came by once in a while, but not often.
Even as I kid I got a kick out of the Fuller Brush man. He always had some little do-dad he would leave behind, even if you said “no, thank you”.
As a matter of fact, I recall when it was acceptable to say “no thank you” to the peddler at the door, and their response would inevitably be, “thank you for your time, have a nice day”.
Not, apparently, anymore.
Lately there has been a new breed of “traveling salesman” prowling our neighborhood. These are young, brash, hard-sell engineers who not only don’t take “no” for an answer, they’re rude.
And not only are they rude, they are pushy and try to intimate you. One man I particularly recall from a couple of years ago came to the door, wanting me to sign up with an “energy re-distributer”. Do you get them in your area?
Now, if the electricity rates had doubled when we got our “smart meters” - that is to say, if we were the kind of people to ignore the “peak periods” and use our a/c, our washer and our dryer at those times—then maybe, and I mean maybe, one of those contracts might have saved us a few dollars.
But I am leery, on principal, of anyone who wants you to sign on the dotted line right away. As if they know that if you have a moment to think things over, you’ll see reason and say: no, thank you.
So I told this gentleman, “no, thank you”, oh, probably about four or five times at least. Despite the fact that my anger was increasing I didn’t slam the door in his face or tell him to take, um, a flying leap. I was still trying, you see, to be polite.
However, this particular gentleman pulled out what he must have thought was his “big gun argument”. Now please keep in mind, I am dressed very casually around the house most days, when I am writing. My hair is caught up, haphazardly in a clip; I’m decently covered, but I am wearing jammies—long ones in the winter, short ones in the summer, but jammies for me are my “business apparel” of choice.
This would-be salesman of the year looked me up and down, and said, “Perhaps you’re just too stupid to understand what I’m saying to you.”
Now friends, there does come a moment, and I am certain my mother, rest her soul, would agree, when it is time to abandon that which clearly does not work.
So I said, “Actually, I probably would score well above you on any IQ test you’d care to name. Moreover, I’m a published author, and, congratulations, you’ve earned a spot in my next novel as the obnoxious itinerate asshole.”
Well, perhaps my mother wouldn’t quite approve of my language, but I did feel ever so much better when I then shut the door in his face.