Sunday, February 24, 2008

Faith, George Michael, and Opening the Door to Strangers

Six years ago, I did what all of us are told not to do. I opened the door for a complete stranger, or at least the first of two doors and quickly closed it. The solicitor began to talk, but my first impression was not too good and my patience incredibly short. In a blink, about two seconds into the black leather workout gloved stranger's delivery, my door closed. He was not exactly dressed for success. However, I heard enough to know that he wanted to work as a handyman of sorts. Another approach, a little advanced warning, some references and the incident would have never happened. He probably was harmless.

George Michael, or so I fondly call him, had faith, but I had little. His shoulders were sheltered by a black leather jacket with silver rhinestones. I could feel the word 'revenge' etched on my soul. I, too, had done my time going door to door for Greenpeace through the north and south suburbs during one to three evenings a week. In exchange, I received a commission, but I was educated enough to inspire a few people not only to join and donate, but to actually appreciate and be a part of the decision that was made, hopefully.

Anyway, within about a year or two, our fearless Greenpeace leader had to resign, because he shot off one too many bottle rockets at the Zion Nuclear plant and filmed footage to display his sensationalistic frustration with security, but that is old news to the core and serious digression. This is meant to display how totally unprepared I was for someone at our front door. A minor digression to make a point that I am sympathetic, but I wore a polo shirt, docksiders, and khakis for Greenpeace. I dressed like a University student and put my best first line forward. I also froze for Greenpeace, as well, from time to time and I recall my feet feeling like drumsticks ready for frying at Buffalo Joes.

I have to take some credit for my closed mindedness and gut reaction, which is normal. First, the guy was not dressed for success so to speak. Dressing like George Michael in black motorcycle gang leather, perhaps with shades in your pocket and black leather workout gloves does not win customers. In addition soliciting in those garments at 7:30 pm without an advanced flyer is less than target marketing to homeowners; freaky is an understatement, IMHO.

Of course, if you warn your neighbors of your unique and distinct garb and the need to moonlight, then you may encourage a more receptive audience. Particularly, if you live down the block with the folks. Of course, if you say hello every once in a while from the sidewalk, it does break down a few barriers, but if you are still a stranger, you are going to have to find a way to network, get street credibility, and then let people know that you are available, as needed.

Most of us are not going to open the door without some advanced notice from those who dress like George Michael about to sound off on the "Faith" video. If 'this George' is out there, albeit, living with a different identity, then I regret closing the door without giving you the time of day. However, what did you expect at 7:30 p.m. on a weekday. Guttennacht.

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