Strategy for handling solicitors, neighbors

Solicitors have an advantage, of course.

Whether on the phone or foot, they have their script.

Granted, it’s less effective if they mispronounce your name.

Then you can sound a buzzer and say, “No, there’s no person by that name here, and I’d recommend you not call my wife ‘Occupant.’ It tends to put her in a foul mood.”

But if they get over that hurdle, the script has their backs.

A writer has worked out, in advance, 57 ways to continue the conversation after you’ve said “no.”

That pretty much uses up all the ways your mother taught you to say no and gets you about halfway into the ways your foul-mouthed Great-Aunt Thelma used to say no when some stranger came knocking on her door with what she thought was the intent to take advantage of her in a way that, in truth, would have horrified the solicitor more than Aunt Thelma.

Well, worry no more.

Today, as a public service, I’m going to share with you the techniques I observed over the Memorial Day weekend when an ill-fated phone and cable solicitor solicitor peered over the wooden privacy fence into my friend’s side yard.

“Is one of you Mr. ——?”

At this point, a person might be expected to say “yes,” or, if on the phone, “speaking.”

Instead, I suggest you respond as he did:

“Who’s askin’?”

As a newcomer, you may be tempted to use the longer, if equally impolite, “Who wants to know?”


“Who’s askin’ ” is as direct as a stiff jab, and has similar effect.

It sets the proper tone if you are persuaded, as my friend is, that most solicitors are simply there for the same reason as a guy who shows up on your front porch with a gun: for your money.

My memory of what happened next is a little sketchy.

As the solicitor went through the standard battery of questions about phone, Internet and television use, my friend discussed his disdain for computers and the people who use them, said he got all the channels he wanted with a set of rabbit ears, and argued that we’re alive for so brief a time that we ought to get off our back sides and live our lives.

And while denying the value of what’s being offered is clearly a worthy technique, the more effective part of the strategy was unfolding at the same time in the slow advance his dog was making toward the fence and the solicitor on the other side.

As he advanced, the sounds of a low growl began to grow.

Because my head was swinging back and forth like a cat watching a tennis match, I can’t be sure whether the hair was raising on the back of my friend’s neck, his dog’s neck or both.

But the two of them clearly were on the same wave length.

So teamwork, too, can be effective in combating solicitors.

As the dog arrived at the fence and stood up to do his best Cujo impression, I tried to quiet him. Out of a polite regard for me, he backed off a little bit. But I clearly was not broadcasting on the master-dog radio frequency and was relieved when my friend stepped in.

“Knock it off,” he barked at him.

Then came the line of the day: “Don’t bite him until I tell you to.”

Afterward, when my friend had expressed surprise at my snide remark about his being a warm, welcoming person, he protested, saying, “I was nice to the guy.”

“So, tell me, what part of ‘Don’t bite him until I tell you to’ is nice?” I asked.

“Well, I wanted him to know my dog wasn’t going to just bite him on his own.”

“But if you heard that, wouldn’t you think it included the thought that you might tell the dog to bite him?”

Because he’s my friend, because I want to help him avoid problems and because I have some regard for solicitors, I did everyone a favor as I went out the gate.

I crossed out the word “dog” below the sign that began with “Beware of’” and replaced it with “owner.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Third organization joins charities leaving Mar-a-Lago
Third organization joins charities leaving Mar-a-Lago

Three major philanthropic organizations said Thursday they are pulling their events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, with one already in discussions to move its 2018 fundraiser to another A-list oceanfront setting. Thursday afternoon, the Cleveland Clinic and American Cancer Society announced they were leaving the president&rsquo...
Springfield groups partner on marriage programs after grants end
Springfield groups partner on marriage programs after grants end

The Marriage Resource Center and Citi Lookout have recently partnered together to keep the center available to the public. The Marriage Resource Center launched in 2004 to address high divorce rates in Clark County. The group’s mission is to provide relationship and marriage education resources that build strong families and strong futures. It...
Upset father says his son was left on school bus for hours
Upset father says his son was left on school bus for hours

A Cleveland father is upset after he says his son was left on the school bus for hours on his first day of classes. WJW reported that Trevelle Hargrove’s 6-year-old son, Trevelle Jr.,  has special needs. Hargrove said his son fell asleep on the bus. Trevelle Jr.  said he was found after he honked the horn of the bus and jumped...
Woman says teen neighbor terrorized her, forced her out home
Woman says teen neighbor terrorized her, forced her out home

A woman says she was forced out of her southwest Atlanta home because her neighbor was terrorizing her.  Chenise Hamilton said she and her 6-year-old son have not been home since Aug. 8.  “I can't go home,” she said. “I can’t take my kid back to that house. I don't know what this person is capable of.” Hamilton...
Barcelona van attack: At least 13 killed in terror attack; 2 arrested
Barcelona van attack: At least 13 killed in terror attack; 2 arrested

Authorities said a terror attack in Barcelona claimed at least 13 lives on Thursday and left 80 others injured after a van slammed into pedestrians on Barcelona's popular La Rambla street. Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalonia police force, confirmed the attack in a Twitter post around 5:10 p.m. local time.
More Stories