Sat. 11.05.16 – I am eating dinner after a day of a crushing migraine that dashed my weekend plans and would not go away, even the face of Imitrex and a diet coke. Finally, eight and a half hours after taking the Imitrex and three-quarters of the way through the second diet coke, life became mildly bearable again.
Twenty or so minutes into the bearable life, there is a knock at the door. I get up from my dinner and ask, “Who is there?”
Scruffy rouses himself out of old dog slumber on the warm kitchen floor to bark loudly. I cannot hear the reply of the man on the other side of the door.
Through the front door, I shout a bit, “Sorry, my dog is barking. I can’t hear you.” What I don’t say is that too many years of live music shows, even with 34 db earplugs in, my hearing is not what it used to be at the hertz range of human speech.
Scruffy uses this opportunity to bark louder and longer, as the man replies a second time. Against my usual practice and better judgement, I open the door to a mid-to-late twenty-something man dressed as if he were a boxer from New York in 1983 with a faded hawaiian shirt over his see through 80s tank top. He is wearing a rather ugly, prominent oddly shaped black ring on his left middle finger. He did not smell bad, but he does not look clean nor good.
As I am assessing him with the door opened only a few inches, he quickly says, “I am a new neighbor introducing myself.”
“Ah.” I say. No one in this complex ever introduces themselves. They will say hi if you pass them in the hallways or near the dumpster or in the carport, but no introductions. We are in walking distance of the beach. Everyone here in these twelve building, three-story, late 1960s open plan California beach apartment complex is a surfer, a student, a medical professional, a downscaled former homeowner of a certain age, or a recent immigrants. I have not seen this fellow in our building or coming and going from the parking lot.
“I am a student,” he says. “I am learning public speaking and I am here to practice.” His words are tripping over each other in the rapidity of his delivery. “I am nervous.” He smiles trying to elicit sympathy. My dinner is cooling, I smell a sales pitch or a con. I am having none of it.
More words, of which I don’t remember enough to even paraphrase. Finally, he says – seeing that he is loosing me to a door inching closed. “Have you ever done any public speaking?”
“Yes, quite a bit.”
“Then you know how hard it is.” He looks at me with hope as he pulls out a laminated four by six card.
“Actually, I am very good at it.” This is not a brag. I like verbally conveying information in an interesting fashion in hopes of sparking a curiosity to learn more in the listener.
“Oh.” This man sparks no curiosity in me. Deflated, he then puts the card in front of him as he gather the courage to start his pitch. The card has a half-tone American flag with an eagle on it in the background and the foreground is unreadable type with several signatures.
“No, thank you.” I firmly say. Do not use the American flag and an eagle to manipulate me. No, not this week. Certainly not this week.
As he protests and starts to get angry, I start to close the door. He protests, “I have been doing this since 7am.”
“Sorry to hear that, but this isn’t about public speaking practice and I am going back to my dinner.” I latch the door. I hear him swear. Scruffy looks at me from the kitchen floor, where his old dog self has attempted to stand but has failed. Scruffy looks more than a bit like a white furry seal who is stuck in one position. I hear the guy knock to no avail on the neighbor’s door.
I sit back down to my dinner. I hear the man knock on many doors in this building and the next across the courtyard with the same patter to open and closed doors. Muffled voices of men tell him to go away. Two women open their doors. The first women stops his speech before I did and shuts her door. He swears. More knocking. Another woman on a floor above opens her door and half way through she yells at him about solicitors aren’t allowed, she slams her door shut. I hear more muffled knocks but no one else opens their doors within my hearing.
I am not sure what this man was selling or what his game / hustle /con was. I didn’t want to know, as it was the in-person version of email spam. If I won’t open a spam email, then why did I open the door?