The doorbell generates great excitement in our house. Once it rings all four kids drop everything and race for the door. Dinners are forgotten, movies paused, Lego abandoned and anyone who is upstairs thunders down, slipping in socks on the stairs. Anything to get there first. I hang back, acting cool in the kitchen but really, I too am dying to see who it is. I don’t know why really. No I do. About once every six weeks it is the UPS guy with an online order. This brings groans from the kids and joy/guilt for me. (“Why are you always buying things for yourself?” they say bitterly as I race happily upstairs to the full length mirror, leaving the stair gate hanging open in my excitement, to try on my new purchase.)
Nine times out of ten it’s someone from UPC or SKY. Undaunted by our crestfallen faces he launches into his spiel. “Don’t worry! It’s nothing serious!” Immediately playing for time he attempts conversation “How are you today?”
The kids wander back to their dinner/movie/Lego and I stand there, holding the baby in one arm, leaning on the door with the other, trying to be polite. On the one hand, I feel sorry for him. It’s an awful job. And on the other, it isn’t actually that easy to be rude on the doorstep. I simply can't just slam the door, fixing my face into a dirty look is too aging and giving out about invasion of privacy and interruption of homework is too exhausting. So I stand there looking patient and hope for a crash from the kitchen that could be construed as an emergency(something that happens every time I am having an interesting chat on the phone) and I have to make my excuses.
As the jovial onslaught continues I agree that yes, I am not a SKY customer, yes, I am with UPC. Or I say that yes, I am with UPC and no, I do not currently have an upgrade. And they are off.
“So! Mrs (look down at clipboard) Mitchell! Would you like a better service at a lower cost?”
I’ve tried saying that I don’t know how much we pay at the moment, that changing service would be too much hassle and that we don’t need more channels. But I have learnt that the less said the better. They have ready answers for all these excuses and it is with glee that they tell me how easy and cheap (although cheap is not a word they use. They say “lower bills”. I don’t think “cheap” is market research approved.)
Soon I have had enough. I adopt my “serious, tired face.” This means nothing to these youngsters. My energy levels are not important. All I need is the strength to hold a pen and sign a dotted line.
I try again, using a strict tone. “As you can see, I am quite busy at the moment.” Then I gesture to the children who, damn them, have disappeared and are amusing themselves quietly elsewhere. But not to worry, they won’t keep me much longer! They just need a few details and I’ll be free to take care of “the kiddies!”
It occurs to me then that I am already free. Free to shut the door and put the kettle on. And eat a hidden Aero. So I say goodbye and see his face begin to protest. “I’ll come back later!” he promises as the latch clicks. I dip the chocolate into my tea. It is delicious.