Well it’s not exactly as “successful” as my blog title makes it sound. For years I’ve walked 11 miles every day for health/fitness reasons, so when I saw the local ad (Wanted: Individual to hang notepads in plastic bags around doorknobs, $15/hr) I realized I could get paid for the same exercise I already do anyhow for free! The real-estate agent told me how quiet and peaceful it would be, walking through serene neighborhoods. He said I could listen to podcasts or music and never have to talk to anyone like typical door-to-door salesmen do. What could be better?
I’ve never had more conversations with so many strangers in my entire life.
With telephones, people have Caller ID and they know it’s you before they even answer. Similarly, everyone has video cameras mounted on front porches and apparently they can see me coming a mile away. Ever politely reached out to unobtrusively put something on someone’s door when suddenly it’s abruptly yanked open and they shout in your face, “Can I help you?”
Me: Hi! I have this handy little notepad for you.
Man: What am I gonna do with that?
Me: Well um, you could make your grocery list on it.
Man: Not a shopper.
Me: Uh, ever play Boggle? You could scribble four and five letter words on it before the timer runs out.
Me: To-Do Lists?
Man: Hate em.
Me: To-Don’t lists??
Man: What do you do with them?
Me: I’m a writer so I would jot story ideas on it.
Man: And I should give a sh*t about that because…?
Me: You could just throw it in the garbage.
Man: (brightening) Yeah, I could do that! Give it here.
Three houses later I encounter a landscaper who delightedly asks how I like the paver stones he’s bordering the lawn with? I point out eight are slightly crooked. He frowns, grabs my notepad and scrawls, “OCD!” We develop a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship and I go on my merry way.
Around the block is a lonely mailman with a leg injury who needs someone to complain to that physical therapy isn’t helping him and then inquires if it would be okay to toss packages onto porches, thereby saving himself the pain of walking up steps? Sure. “The Postman Always Flings Twice!”
Many people have their garage doors open. I’ve never really noticed how many folks spend quality time out there, amongst their cars, their lawnmowers, and their bikes just sort of hanging out, puttering around. A couple engages in a sex act leaning against bags of Round-Up and I think about leaving a notepad on their door titling it, “Garage Fantasies and Role-Plays We’ve Yet To Try” but wisely decide not to.
As I nonchalantly slink by these homes with their open garage doors (in order not to disturb the occupants and avoid further human interaction) nine times out of ten they call me over.
Woman: Hey! Whatcha got there? Why you passing my house? I want one.
Me: Oh just some silly notepads. You don’t really need any.
Woman: I’ll give you a dollar for two.
Me: They’re complimentary. They have advertising on them.
Woman: $30 for the entire stack. And how much for your backpack? I’m having a garage sale this Saturday. I could put that out as well.
Me: Really? Do you want my sweater too? Five bucks.
But it’s at the next house where all the trouble starts in front of a cute birdbath.
Husband: Which broker are you distributing for?
Me: Century 21.
Wife: We’re Nationwide Realtors. How much they paying you?
Me: $15 an hour. Under the table.
Wife: $22.50 an hour under the table and also under four dining room chairs!
Husband: Only if you retrace your steps and replace their notepads with our bookmarks.
I imagine re-encountering the grumpy guy, the limping mailman, the garage sale girl, the landscaper, the sex addicts, and I start to feel exhausted.
Me: Can I just put your bookmarks inside a novel I wrote and leave it as a package deal for $20?
Wife: Sure, why not?
Taking a cue from the mailman, I march back to my car (where the trunk holds boxes of extra novels doing nothing) and proceed to throw my book from the driver’s window onto the front steps of hundreds of homes, yelling all the while, “Read this! It’s a best-seller. Oh yeah and check out the free bookmark!”
And that could be part of the reason I’m now referred to as the “Drive-By Shouter” but at least I don’t have to talk to anyone in person. And so much for getting paid to exercise.