I was at my friend’s apartment enjoying coffee cake, coffee and a spirited discussion about her new job when there was a knock on the door.
“Get down! Get down!” she hissed, diving under the kitchen table.
I grabbed my cake and coffee and joined her there.
“What? What?! Who is it? Do you want me to call the police? What’s going on?”
I was clueless. I’d never seen her so frightened.
“Jehovah’s witnesses,” she paused. “Or Mormons. Or a magazine salesmen. Or politicians with a survey. I can’t tell them apart.”
“Politicians wear ties?” I suggested.
“No, they all wear ties,” she sighed.
We sat there for 10 minutes until the knocking and bell-ringing stopped. When we came out again I asked her why we were hiding under the table.
She nodded towards the sliding glass door off the dining room.
“They come around the back and look through the windows and just won’t give up,” she said.
“If I let them in, I can’t get rid of them. They’re worse than roaches!”
The more we talked, the more I realized that Cary hid under the table when trick-or-treaters came by on Halloween; when politicians and volunteers had petitions they wanted signed, or when any religious, school or other group wanted something. She was in a busy, densely populated, upscale area and her apartment complex was a traffic magnet for everyone selling or pushing anything.
If you’ve ever been the target of neighborhood sales teams, you know how annoying or even unnerving it can be to have strangers knocking on your door at odd hours.
The thing is, you don’t have to answer the door. It’s your house. You can ignore people at the door if you choose, even if they see you inside. For those who feel that’s rude, think about it. What gives them the right to interrupt your day and take up 15, 30 or 60 minutes of your time?
But there are other reasons not to answer a door when a stranger knocks:
Burglars, rapists and other criminals often “case” a neighborhood at odd hours during the day to see who is home, which houses are empty and who will open a door without checking to see who it is first. They show up posing as workmen, gardeners looking for work, utility men, people delivering pizza or packages — all manner of pretexts. They don’t like seeing a placard next to, or on, your door that reads, “We’re home, but we’re not answering the door. The door is being monitored by camera, so please state your business, and then leave your business card or contact information and we’ll call you back later if we’re interested.”
Gang members who want to be initiated into a gang must often kill, rape, mutilate or otherwise injure an innocent victim. They usually find them in parking lots, but sometimes they knock on doors. Women home alone during the day make great victims. Why provide them with one? Don’t answer the door.
If your neighbor is expecting a delivery, they should ask you if you are willing to accept it. In an apartment complex most deliverymen will leave packages at the main office. It’s faster, easier and procedure for them.
Religious types and various causes (political, environmental, personal) can be the most persistent unwelcome callers no matter what you believe. Do not let them in. (1) They may not be who they claim to be and (2) It is almost impossible to get them to leave once you do let them in. If you want to discuss religion or causes with them, then do it outside so when you’re tired of the conversation you can just get up, go inside and lock the door.
Tips for Stopping the Knocking
If you live in an apartment complex, notify your manager that you are being pestered. Ask that they post signs at all entrances to the property that no solicitation is allowed. The next time someone knocks, you can point out the rules and advise them to leave or you can simply call the office or the police.
Post a small sign on your front door that says, “Private” or “No trespassing” or “No soliciting.” You can buy peel-and-stick signs with any of those messages at most office supply stores. When someone knocks anyway, call the police and insist they come. You don’t have to have no-trespassing signs on your property for someone to be charged with trespassing. Plus, anyone coming on your property can be charged with trespassing, even if they didn’t know that they were trespassing.
If you can get the person to leave their contact information or name you can formally advise them not to return via certified letter. Or, you can do as my friend Tom does and ask them for their home phone and address. Most will not give it, obviously; he then has made his point and shuts the door.
With Halloween fast approaching you can either go out for the night to avoid trick-or-treaters, or you can leave treats unattended at the door. In many communities, it is accepted that any home with the porch light turned off is out of the candy-dispensing business — even if you want to give out candy, you’ll run out eventually and this is a signal that you’re done. If that’s not your neighborhood policy, you can also simply turn off all your lights as a signal that you are not participating in the festivities, then don’t answer the door.
Your home is your castle. Act like a king or queen, and just say no to anyone who wants to enter without a prior appointment. It’s your right.