The other day, the rest of the gang went for a walk in the neighborhood. The youngest and most challenging boy showed little interest in going, so I stayed home with him.
A short time later, I heard a knock on the front door. Seeing that my son was engaged in an alphabet toy, I walked toward the sound.
Through a side glass panel, I could see an unfamiliar tall and thin young man standing in the entryway. He was dressed casually--a navy blue collared shirt, khaki pants, and brown dress shoes that do not require shining.
He appeared to be 19 or 20 years old.
I opened the door and quietly closed it behind me so as not to give our youngest son a chance to make a run for freedom. The young guy spoke immediately:
"Good afternoon sir. I do not want to disturb you, but I have an exciting opportunity for you. I am participating in a program to sell the best magazines at unbeatable prices. If I am able to generate the most sales, I will win a trip to Hawaii..."From the young sales guy's body language, it seemed that he was not yet comfortable in speaking this way; yet he had been coached well and connected the words and sentences flawlessly.
He continued with the well rehearsed pitch; complete with uncomfortable dramatic pauses where the potential customer should be laughing or at least providing a complimentary chuckle.
After a few moments, I interrupted his sales attempt with a polite: "I am not interested."
The young man thanked me for my time, and walked toward the end of the block before disappearing.
The exchange reminded me of another rookie magazine salesman that I met while I was a patrol officer. It was after midnight, and I was dispatched to a pay phone near one of our city's housing projects to talk to a stranded individual.
I arrived at the location and encountered "Willy." Willy was a heavy-set 18 year old African-American kid with thick glasses.
"Sir, can you help me, I am stuck here?" The young man asked.
Willy was from a rural area in a neighboring state, and had responded to an appealing help wanted newspaper advertisement involving sales and being able to travel.
"These guys drove a bunch of us here and we have been training for a new job selling magazines. Man, if I'd have know that I be selling garbage door-to-door, I'd have never left home."Willy's hands were trembling slightly as he spoke, and he was unable to find a comfortable position to stand while talking.
"So, I told the team leader: I don't want to do this anymore. It is not me. He looked at me, cussed me, the other guy stopped the van over there, and they kicked me out to sidewalk. That was two hours ago. I have no friends or family here. I am scared."Despite only have a few dollars with him, Willy was a certainly an appealing crime victim in this neck of the woods. I was able to make arrangements for him to stay the night at city shelter and they would help him return home.
It is odd how a knock on the door can elicit a long forgotten police memory.
My moment of quiet reflection was broken by the clicking sound of our deadbolt lock turning, and the laughing of my youngest son from the inside of the door. My mood immediately changed as I searched my empty pockets for house keys to unlock the door; realizing that they were inside on the table.
Thank goodness for summer and being able to find an open rear window.