That feeling when someone is at your front door – selling something.
It happened last week to Nikki – and thinking quickly, she took immediate and decisive action.
You can imagine how I received this news? Disbelief is a polite way of putting it, but inaccurate.
Door to door sales ventures are in the main, a scourge. Too intrusive and too often with crap for sale and explains why some households resort to sticking curt notices to their doors.
“WE DO NOT BUY ANYTHING AT THE DOOR”
But sellers who knock on doors are a determined bunch and are not usually dissuaded by a sticker.
We don’t have such a sticker albeit we do have a similar policy and sentiment – or at least, I do. Nikki knows this but she is more compassionate than me and more likely to show scintilla of interest on the doorstep and this is all they need.
And even if she is not interested, she finds it difficult to say no and much easier to say…
I’ll get my husband (and he can explain that we don’t want any more bloody dish cloths)
I understand her kindness.
Selling door to door is no one’s choice. No school kid sets out with door-to-door as a goal. It is more last resort than career path. A thankless task even in good times – so imagine how hard it is now, as we enter the greatest recession in our history, with millions of people frantic about their livelihoods.
I am suspicious about lists of names that we hear about. Data on our habits and demographics. Lists of phone numbers that allow telephonists to target us for all sorts of scams. I wonder if we are not a door-to-door sales list.
A ‘will buy’ house. (best get the wife to the front door)
This explains why our house is already fully stocked with unwanted dish cloths and dubious cleaning gimmicks and contraptions. Our most recent purchase is a device to remove hair from sink wastes. How have we managed until now?
I usually make just make a donation. Got enough crap already, thank you.
And this is the context with which Nikki comes to my office last week (a desk in our bedroom, actually) and looking apologetic.
‘There’s someone at the front door selling something…’
‘We don’t need anything. Why didn’t you expla…’
‘I didn’t like to. It’s a lady. She seems nice. I’ve told her I’ll get you to take a look…’
I trudge down the stairs in disbelief, running through my possible excuses.
Odd then that I would give this lady ONE HUNDRED POUNDS for her wares, by some distance a record at-door purchase for me. I even visited the cash machine because this was illicit trading and definitely not declared. It might even have been stolen. I didn’t check.
So what was it that she was selling?
Well, exactly what I alluded to earlier.
Crap. Literally, a pile of old shite.
Horse manure, to give it its official title.
30 bags of the stuff to be precise.
And heavy too, I quickly discovered because I even lugged it through our house for her. She wanted her sacks back which suited me fine and together we tipped the dung over my various beds. The quickest way to cover weeds I can tell you.
Her colleague, (her mum, called Rose) was keen to impress on me just how good their manure is, which was unnecessary since I had already agreed to buy it.
“Three years old. Been turned regularly. It’s black.” She kept assuring me.
Like feeding the birds which I wrote about recently, I am a man of a certain age and I am partial to horticulture and especially so during lockdown. And so, why not reward my plant beds with a little love? And ever neighbourly, my main criterion before the deal was struck was that it didn’t stink.
It doesn’t, Rose assured me. After all, this is manure that hasn’t been inside a horse for over three years. It is very dark, almost black and this adds to its sense of richness and goodness.
Rose kept gibbering on as I lugged the bags through our house. I had stopped listening in the main but then she said something that struck me…
“Once this gets wet and really beds in, your soil will thank you. And come the autumn, you will be rewarded with the most beautiful plants.”
Great, I thought. Something to look forward to and nowadays, I take gratitude wherever I can find it.
I handed over the money – and we didn’t shake hands (social distancing)
A £100 lighter in these straitened times is significant and yet I have a good feeling. I've made Roses's day and I have my autumn get excited by when I am assured that my plants will look beautiful.
But plants don’t ever look beautiful in the autumn. The autumn is when the plant show is over and they pack it in for the year. A plants work is done. It’s called THE FALL because most plants fall apart at this time of the year.
And, Rose has done me for a hundred quid.
The manure has been down a week now and already, it is looking a lot less wholesome. It’s even lost its blackness which Rose specifically made mention of. It’s more brown now – which feels less rich – which appropriate I guess because I feel less rich, too.
And I think of those marketing lists again and the new one that the Holland household has most recently been added to…
“Likes his gardening, but typical urbanite, hasn’t got a clue. Good for £100. Even went and got cash. Total mug. Best to get the wife to the door…”