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Knock, knock ... Who's there? Someone who wants to sell you something


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The next time you hear a knock at your door, it might be a bleeding young woman. If it's the same one who came to my door, she'll be standing there, apparently in anguish, with bright-red droplets plopping from her face onto your porch.

As a true crime junkie, I knew well enough not to let the woman inside. Her gang of bandits hiding in the bushes would have taken that opportunity, of course, to barge in with semi-automatic weapons and steal my favorite lamp.

I instead offered the woman a paper towel to stanch the bleeding and more water for her empty water bottle.

It turns out she had not been beaten, raped or thrown in a wash and left for dead. She was suffering a nosebleed, which happens when she's under a lot of stress. And, boy, was she under stress.

The gal proceeded to relate how she had left her friends and family behind in Texas to follow the love of her life to Tucson, and how he suddenly didn't love her anymore. He may have been doing drugs or falling in love with a waitress or partaking in some other snippet of drama I don't quite recall.

The gal had no car, no bicycle and would soon have no home because her former love was going to kick her out on the street. She had to ride the bus in her quest to raise cash so she could leave all this heartache behind and get back to Texas.

Would I like to buy a magazine subscription?

I'm still not sure if the nosebleed and sob story were for real or merely part of a ploy to sell more copies of Us Weekly. The girl was certainly quick to pull out the magazine order form from her back pocket as soon as the blood coagulated enough to stop dripping on my porch.

I didn't buy.

That, for me, is unusual. I am a sucker for salespeople, and they know it. The previous magazine salesperson who traipsed into my yard cornered me in the driveway as I was taking out the trash. He liked my hat. I bought six subscriptions.

Then there was the toothless guy who wanted to clean my carpets for free to show me how badly I needed to buy his magic vacuum. And the alarm salesman dude who actually leaned on the door jamb so I couldn't shut the door. He offered to install an alarm system at absolutely no cost—I just had to pay the monthly fees to make the alarm system active.

These solicitors swirl through the neighborhood like gnats despite the prominent "No Soliciting" signs at every entrance—and the cow bones dangling from my front door. If they don't get you in person, they are sure to get you on the phone or online.

Never, ever, enter your name and information on forms requesting health insurance quotes (thanks again, Mom). And steer clear of the form that promises a free listing in Who's Who of Arizona. The listing is free, but the Who's Who lady who calls soon after tells you the listing does nothing for you. To really reap the benefits, you must become a member of Who's Who to the tune of $780.

Everyone wants a piece of you. Even your friends. Be it a co-worker passing around her jewelry catalog, a pal throwing a skin-care party or that woman you thought was a buddy who suddenly turns every conversation into a way to sell her Reiki stuff, they all want a piece of you.

The friend requests are the toughest to reject. I've come to the conclusion that part of the reason we buy is a deep need to fulfill our people-pleasing tendencies. We want people to like us. We don't want to hurt their feelings. Or we're just suckers who don't know how to say no.

While I do love the skin-care line and my dog digs the hand-held Reiki magnet massager, nobody loves the constant badgering to buy, buy, buy. Putting up boundaries can be a tough lesson, but it's much easier than paying $780 so you can join some organization you've never heard of. No, I didn't fall prey to the $780 pitch. And I'm glad to say the nosebleed blood washed crisply and cleanly off the porch.


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