I’m a pretty careful person. Growing up, I was told on more than one occasion that if I walked down to the street to get the mail alone I might get kidnapped, raped, or murdered. Even once I was in my late teens and wouldn’t have gone off with someone unless they proved they really did have a puppy in their van. Hearing things like that every day of your life as a kid makes you the tiniest bit paranoid as an adult. Hell, I get jumpy if there’s anyone within 50 feet while I’m at my mailbox. But a few weeks ago I did something ridiculously stupid.
You know those door-to-door salesmen? They come by every few months. I politely say I’m not interested and slam the door and exclaim "What a fucking cunt!" just loud enough for them to hear but quietly enough that they might think I didn’t think they could hear, because I’m a goddamn classy fucking lady. Anyway, I was warned about door-to-door salesmen a lot growing up. They’re going to try to come in. They will ask you for a glass of water, or if they can use your phone, and then they will stab you or make note of your valuables and come back later to rob you. Cool, so let’s avoid that, right? Wrong.
This guy showed up at my door. Everything about him was wrong for a door-to-door salesman. They’re supposed to look like Willy Loman and act sleazy. This was a tattoo-covered guy around my age drinking a Monster, and when I opened the door he was all "Howdy there, your neighbor said you’re really nice!" and opened his sales pitch with a joke about mustard. I know, fucking mustard . I was amused enough to agree to listen to his sales pitch, plus my neighbor had convinced him that I’m nice, and who wants to kill a good first impression? And then he goes, "Cool, do you have a table I can borrow?" And since the only warning phrases I had been taught were "May I have a glass of water" and "May I use your phone," that seemed pretty legit, so I was all, "Well, sure, come right on in, complete stranger!" Obviously. Who wouldn’t deny a random guy at the door a table in a time of need?
His sales pitch was weird. The whole time I felt like something was off. He kept referring to himself and the group he claimed to be a part of as "kids". This guy was not a kid. He said if I didn’t buy magazines from him to be sent to a children’s hospital so that he could win a spring break trip to Cancun (sounds totally legit, right?), then the other 100 "kids" in his group would come by to bug me too, unless I gave him money so he could leave a sticker on my door that said "bug off". He said it with a vaguely threatening smile, but he didn’t really come across as sketchy. He told jokes and talked about Gatsby when he saw all the books in my apartment. And anyone who knows classic literature must be trustworthy, right? But I still felt weird, so I gave him a donation because he seemed pretty jazzed about the possibility of Cancun and sent him on his way. I heard my neighbor yell something about a scam at him when he showed up at his door, so I googled magazine scams and he fit exactly with the description. Whoops. Apparently there are entire operations devoted to bussing in groups of "kids" to scam brilliant people like me.
I looked on my door and found a hand-written "bug off (4)" sticker. Four what? Four things worth stealing? Four stabs to kill me and my dog? Four days ‘til break in? I felt really uneasy, and kind of angry at myself. I took the sticker off largely because he had ugly handwriting, so the next day one of his promised fellow "kids" showed up. This "kid" was another 20-year-old, and this one was super pissed off when I explained that I had taken off the sticker. So I did what any good citizen would do: I directed him to my grumpy old neighbor’s door and listened to his screams as my neighbor’s snarling German Shepherd chased him down the hall. None of the "kids" have returned.
My point is, if you need to use a table, come on over! Just keep your distance at the mailboxes. That’s sketchy as fuck.