A knock at the door
Earlier this evening I was peck, pecking away at my keys when there came a knock at my door.
Now, no one knows where I live, really. About 99 percent of my socializing goes on at work. My domestic seclusion is partly voluntary (to avoid “hey you!” sorts of details that pop up in the military when you’re too available) and partly not (most have families), so the fact that someone was at my door in the cold of the evening was very unexpected.
“Hey there man–oh, sorry to bother you while you were eating–,” said the guy at my door. I was holding a plate of pizza rolls, just out of the microwave. He was a white guy garbed up in a normal hip-hop getup–logo-ized stocking cap, pulled low, and a zirconium “bling” encrusted dog-tag chain, long shirt, etc.
“Oh that’s alright,” I said, and popped another pizza roll in. “What’s up?”
“I just came from your neighbors about three doors down and am on my way to meeting a 1000 people who are friendly and not violent, you think you might fit that description?”
I laughed, “I guess.”
“Cool, man, cool. I was hoping you were, it’s a long way down,” he motioned off the balcony and had a laugh, before continuing. “Hey man, how long have you been in the Army?”
“About…ummm, four years,” it took me a minute to think.
“Wow, so that would make you, what? Twenty four?”
“Well that works for you, ’cause you don’t look a day over 24. How old do you think I am?”
Dude, I had no idea. I don’t guess at ages very often. “Oh, I don’t know, man. Umm, 28?”
“Close man, close, ha ha! Hey, I just wanted to thank you for what you’re doing man, fighting for us and all that, you know. Are you going to have to go back to Iraq?”
“Maybe, things are a little crazy right now. There’s a lot of reorganizing going on.”
“Yeah, wow, that’s great. Listen, I’m trying to go on a cruise, man. You ever been on a cruise?”
“Well, I’m trying to get on one, and this year it’s guys against the girls. First one to 20,000 points get it, and it’s going to be me. You know why?”
“‘Cause you’re going to help me get some points, you know how you can do that?”
“Nope,” ah yes, I’ve been though this routine before.
“You can help me out by getting some magazines. I know nobody wants ’em, but they’re cheap and we have a lot of ’em. What are some of your hobbies?”
“I do some graphic design, some writing, you know stuff like that.”
“Wired. You get that?”
“Well there it is my man, right there, just fill out this slip right here and–”
“Look, man, I’ve done this before and have been burned–”
“Oh, when was that?”
“Back at Fort Knox, I signed up for some magazines and they never came.”
“Were they using pink slips or yellow slips?”
“I don’t remember, but–”
“Well, we got different slips now, see the address at the bottom is different?”
“Look, no thanks, I don’t want any magazines.”
“Well, let me ask you this. If two dogs walked by your door and one peed on it, would you get mad at the other dog?”
“I’m that second dog. Don’t have to get mad at me.”
“I’m not interested in any magazines.”
“So, you’re telling me that you let me go through my whole thing when all you had to say was I’m not interested at the start?”
“Hey, sorry, I don’t need any magazines.”
“Well, you know what?” he gritted his teeth. “You have a good night, then.”
“You too, man.”
I’m more naive than I thought. I thought, honest to God, that he was out meeting people, whether it was for some religious reason or maybe some quirky social experiment…I guess because I could see myself doing something like that. But, nope, just out to get some money. I felt like a moron for investing in the conversation. Next time I should, what? Just close the door? That’s not very neighborly.