Sunday, November 4, 2012

Door-to-Door Salesmen

There are a few things that irritate a stay-at-home mom more than the doorbell ringing (usually right during nap time), and peeking out to see a salesperson waiting to take up precious minutes of her day. Especially when your neighborhood has "No Soliciting" signs posted all over the freaking place.

But if the stars align to where Anna is awake, the dog is contained in the back yard, and I am not covered in baby vomit when the salesperson rings the doorbell, I answer it. With Anna on my hip. Assuming that the person is wearing some kind of company apparel and doesn't look like an ax-murderer, of course. I listen to their spiel and I am always polite, but I have zero intentions of buying whatever they are selling. I think in the 4 years that we have lived here, I have only purchased one service and I haven't converted to any other religions. And we get at least one salesperson a week, so if you do the math, the odds are very much not in their favor. Unless it is a neighborhood kid doing a fundraiser, in which case we are a soft mark.

So why do I answer the door? It's so easy to ignore them. It's so easy to pretend like I don't see them standing there. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on the street that actually opens the door for them. But I answer the door, and I answer the door with Anna, because I want her to grow up knowing how to say "No". I want her to be able to stand up for herself. No excuses, no apologies, no justifications, just a respectful "Thank you for your offer but we aren't interested. Have a good day." I respect the fact that they are getting out there and doing their job and earning a living, but that doesn't mean I am obligated to buy or to let them take up more of my time than I am willing to give them. I actually welcome the opportunity to set this example, and the pushier they are, the better.

The ability to say "No" and the ability to stand up for oneself is a skill that I think many people, but especially girls, lack. When I look back on my childhood, teenage years, and even up through early adulthood, some of the things that I regret the most involved not being able to stand up for myself. The few times that I did stand up for myself, I didn't handle it well and certainly not graciously, and I also very much regret those situations. This never really clicked for me until I was working my first real job, at a sales position. I worked with some fantastic women who set a really good example at how to be ballsy (if you'll excuse the term) without being bitchy, and I really learned a lot about being assertive and confident, and not letting people walk all over you. Learning this skill changed my life, and I am such a stronger person for it.

I know this is such a small piece of the puzzle. I know that this alone isn't going to be some big life-changing lesson. The girls might not even remember these interactions when they're older. But I hope that I am able to teach both of my daughters (and any other kiddos that might come along) this crucial skill. I hope that they soak up the ability to be assertive and confident and not afraid to speak their mind and to stand up for themselves and others. I hope that they learn to say "No" and to hold their ground no matter how hard they are pushed.

And in the meantime, I hope the salespeople don't mind being my guinea pigs :-).

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