No Solicitors

I’ve recently installed a No Solicitors sign on our screen door. I’ve always been against the signs. They are anti-social in their very nature and function, and I have always looked askance at those who have posted such a placard. Fate, it seems, has driven me to posting one of my own. Since moving into our home almost six years ago, we have weathered through dozens of window salesmen who offer to look through all of our windows for free.
That first summer we talked to at least one pair of guys a week. It was so hot that summer that we couldn’t hide from them in the house, so we sat outside, and we were forced to engage with them. Else and I escaped the Friends of Trees guy one time because we were sitting in the shade across the street. I felt a little guilty about that one, so I hailed him from across the asphalt and bid him come join us in the relative coolness of the grass. It turns out he’s pretty nice — we call him Paul Trees for obvious reasons.
We learned pretty quickly that we could get most people like window estimators, roofers, and the gas company salesmen to bug off by telling them we’re renting. We vote, so the petitioners we didn’t mind so much. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were no bother, either. I’d usually chat with them on the front porch for a half hour or more.
Why did we declare beggars, peddlers, and entrepreneurs were unwelcome? The toe that crossed the metaphorical line belonged to a huge homeless man with his three ring binder. The toe wasn’t even his so much as his bitch’s. His unleashed pit bull scooted past his legs and into our living room. Just to make this clear, we have two small children, a chihuahua, and an angora rabbit in a 730 sq.ft. house. Our house fits us, barely, but it’s cozy. We don’t have any room for strange pit bulls off the street, and we weren’t about to let this guy into our house with two small children to collect the dog that, despite the giant that stood at the door hollering for her, continued to explore the living room. “She never does this,” he assured us when the dog finally took heed of his bellowing and skittered back out the door.
So, now we have an No Solicitor’s sign. Our door is never knocked upon anymore. I was excited to see my Jehovah’s Witness friend through the window the other day as he walked up our footpath. But he never knocked, and our chihuahua never barked. Apparently, he was a solicitor all this time. I was surprised to learn this.
Really, I can be so naive sometimes. I guess I had thought of Daniel as my friend. He and his wife, Jill, have stopped by on countless Saturdays. Daniel always wore a suit and tie. Jill in heels, pearls, and a black business suit and skirt. Her hair and make up: flawless. Jill is great. She is the model wife. She never once interrupted Daniel. She only spoke when addressed, but still nodded in all of the appropriate places during our dialogues.
The first time Daniel and Jill stopped by, we chatted for maybe thirty minutes. I would have invited them in, but our house is small, and with two active kids, unless we know company is coming, the living room is usually pretty crazy.  In any case, they seemed content to stand outside. Daniel was interested to hear that I had once felt the calling to be a Baptist preacher, but he absolutely was astonished to learn that I had then married an Atheist! Serendipitously, he pulled out the copy of his current Watch Tower. One of the points they discussed was how it is the man’s duty to teach his wife about God. I told him I would do my best, and that seemed to make him happy.
Daniel wished me a hearty encouragement and the two of them bid a warm farewell. Reentering the house, I showed my wife the passage that said it’s the man’s job to teach the woman about God. She was totally open to it, so I said every man and woman is a star, and it’s our purpose to fulfill our Will. It was a great talk.
The next time Daniel came by, he was pleased to hear that I had indeed been discussing God with my wife. I commented that it was good that she was so open-minded, and I think it’s important to take a holistic view on spirituality. There are many paths to the Truth. Daniel disagreed. He believes that there is only one Truth. Bringing out his current issue of the Watch Tower, he explained how God frowns on Homosexuality, for instance. Again, I reiterated my belief in adopting a holistic worldview. After a brief exchange, we agreed that I had trouble believing that the book he was quoting for me was the actual Word of God. He admitted that men had actually penned the Divine Word. We bid adieu, and I went back inside to continue reading a book my friend has just lent me. The book was Jim Marrs’ Alien Agenda. I finished it the day before Daniel’s next visit.
He showed up with the current issue of the Watch Tower and a huge smile. On the cover was a painting of the planet earth floating in the void. He saw me looking at it. “How did they know?” He asked. “The Bible describes it as a pearl floating in space. Everyone at that time believed the world was flat! How did they know if it wasn’t the Word of God?”
“Well,” I began, slowly, “some people believe that this is a very large universe with many suns and many planets. Some people believe that beings have come down from the heavens to teach us. In that passage you quoted, he describes a chariot descending to the hilltop amidst a rush of wind and bright lights. He is taken aboard, he immediately feels like he weighs a ton. Then, he’s weightless. He looks toward the Earth, and it is as a cup floating in the darkness. Maybe he described it like he saw it.”
Crestfallen, Daniel was speechless. This was an objection he had never anticipated: Aliens! I’m sure he thought that I had seemed so rational at first. He nodded goodbye, politely and walked back to the SUV that had been idling at the curb the entire time.
We have a No Solicitors sign, now. The door is mostly quiet, now, and the chihuahua is trained not to bark at the door, so he’s mostly quiet, too, but I miss those chats with Daniel.