Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dracula Always Rings Twice, or Why I Shouldn't Be Alone

People who didn't know my dad tell me all the time that I look like him. This is true, and I think my paternal side has the dominant genes (so my boy will most likely look a lot like me--sorry, world). People who did know my dad often tell me that I act like him. This is also true--for good or ill.

One of the "ill" moments I acted like my dad happened recently, several weeks ago. Picture this: Abby is at our church's women's Bible study, so I am without supervision. I have a list of tasks as long as my shoe (and I wear big shoes). And wouldn't you know it: as soon as Abby leaves, I break my glasses. I scrounge the floor to find the screw that unhinged my lens, made more difficult, of course, by the fact that I cannot see. (This, by the way, is not yet the part of the story in which I acted like my dad.) Soon after I give up looking for the tiny screw, I tape my glasses back together. On the heels of the final taping, the doorbell rings.

I open the door to a twentysomething kid who wants to sell me a newspaper.

Our household already receives the Chicago Tribune. It is usually removed from our driveway and placed, without comment and unread, into our recycling bin. Now, you might ask, why not save the dollar a week and eliminate the middleman? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it's because I want to be perceived as the type who reads the daily newspaper over a cup of coffee each morning. Maybe it's the Sunday coupons that we often save and seldom use. In any case, we continue to receive the Tribune.

I tell the twentysomething that we already receive a newspaper, but it's cold outside. I invite him in. (A brief aside: I frequently find a scene from Dracula to be a useful tool of thought. Dracula is unable to enter a house unless someone from the house invites him in. Imagine how much grief could have been saved the Harker family had only that crazy man downstairs not invited Dracula in. Similarly...oh, well, you get the parallel.) He begins to tell me about his hopes and dreams. It turns out that he is trying to pay his way through college, and just as I did, he attends a small, private Christian school in Indiana. He says that for two dollars a week--even less--I can have this smaller, more local, in almost every way inferior newspaper delivered straight to my door ("seriously--our drivers make it a point to get it as close to the house as possible"), seven days a week.

"It's just a trial. You can try it for eight weeks, right? For every four people who sign up, I get $100, which goes toward my education."

Trial. Only eight weeks. Education. Indiana. Christian college. Industrious twentysomething.

All right, I say, drunk on my own magnanimity. I'll give it a try.

Then he pulls out the carbon slip. "I haven't had much success tonight. You just made my night, sir!" Well, I do like to make people's nights...

"I'll need a credit card..." ?! You said trial, young man! But no, no. I like to make people's nights, not break them. I internally mutter as I reach for my wallet. He records the numbers, and off he goes, into the cold darkness, never to be seen or heard from again, presumably to earn his education, though perhaps to earn his cred at the poker tables in Vegas.

I stand there, sulking, until I realize how foolish it is to stand near one's own door sulking (besides, it might attract more of my recent salesman's ilk). I move to the office and sulk in the office chair for a while longer before I move on to my other tasks.

Abby returns home, and I make my sheepish confession. All of it spills out. How I broke my glasses and subsequently lost the part needed to fix them. How I completed only a fraction of the tasks on my list. And, most egregious of all my blunders, how we are now two dollars poorer per week, in receipt of another newspaper that we won't read, and (making up for it) how we are helping a poor Indiana twentysomething to pay his own way through a private Christian college. Isn't that something? "Why didn't you just give him $15 toward his education?" Yes, yes, that would have saved trees, the hassle of collecting and recycling piled-up newspapers--particularly when we're gone on vacation--all in all, it would have saved everyone some trouble and was the obvious solution. But that's just it: we helped him earn his daily bread. Someday he'll thank us.

We are still the recipients of two newspapers, one of which arrives two feet closer than the other. Most sections go from driveway to recycle bin as soon as they arrive.

So, how am I like my dad? Salespeople know to come when the man of the house is home.


  1. On the bright side, there was no false advertising involved in his sales pitch. The paper does indeed get delivered "as close to the house as possible." How many weeks left of your trial?

  2. That's true. Well, I guess "as close as possible" would be our stoop, but...semantics!

    I'm not sure. My next post is actually going to be about the good that has come about from this newspaper subscription. Or at least how I justify myself to my wife and others.