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Suburban Island

Zap it
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002, 12:24 a.m.

Question: Why the pilgrimage to my front door?

What I Have Learned: One knock on the door is worse than two rings on the phone.

I recently got a Zapper. This is one of those things that you plug into a phone outlet and every time someone calls you using an auto-dialer – ZAP, they are gone baby. I love the Zapper because since I have plugged it in, my house has been a quieter place. Even a little bit more peace and quiet is worth $39.99 in my book.

Today though, a strange thing happened. It was as if the virtual sales force of America recognized that it was being gypped and wasn’t going to take it. No indeed, they are made of tougher stuff than that and I should have realized it from the moment I plugged my Zapper in with that stupid little smile.

Around 3:00 today I heard a knock on the door. Now who could that be? A friendly neighbor? One of the kid’s friends? An erstwhile acquaintance stopping by for some cheery Christmas tea and talk? Not exactly.

At the door is a rough looking man with his wife who is dressed kind of like a guy. She looks happy enough though and what the heck as it seems that they are here to talk to me about yard work – of which they feel certain I am in dire need. After that is, walking about my yard without my express permission while I stand outside in my bare feet and no coat wondering what they are doing in my back yard, and why did I answer the door, and why I am just standing out here anyway.

Since he pointed out the bushes in the front of my house which needed a trimmer to be run over them, I was assuming that when he said that cleaning up the trees would cost me 750, he was referring to these. 750 – wow, how can he do that? $7.50 a tree to trim is more than fair. It just doesn’t sound right.

“750,” I say, “like in seven dollars and fifty cents?”

"750," he corrects me, "seven hundred fifty dollars." He and his wife nod towards the huge white pines to the side of our house. "$750 a tree to trim those up."

My eyes flit upwards to the top of these sturdy pines and then to the row of small bushes lining my walk, enlightened at last.

I am eating leftovers for lunch and do not want to pull $750 x 2 out of my pocket less than a week before Christmas to hack limbs of some sweet-natured pine trees that have been going along minding their own business and being no trouble to me at all.

“No, thank you,” I say.

“Ice storms,” he says dourly. The missus nods darkly.

Too bad about the hedge thing. Now that would have been a deal.

A few hours later another man appears at my door. He has windows and siding for me and looking at my house he has assessed that perhaps I am in need of both. He seems like a nice man and if he walked around my yard without asking, at least I was none the wiser. However, I don’t want windows right now. No, not even these top of the line beauties in his color brochure and there is nothing wrong with my siding – thank you. Even though he did suggest via his sales pitch that he thought my siding was wanting, I bit my tongue and told him no thanks in the very nicest way. It is the Christmas season after all, and he does have to walk around with that clipboard and all.

He didn’t say anything about ice storms so I figured it was the least I could do. I even took the brochure. You never know.

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