Saturday, August 22, 2009

Not exactly Jehova's Witnesses

A few weeks ago, just as Rob and I were giving the kids baths and getting them ready for bed, our doorbell rang.  We stopped what we were doing for a split second and looked at each other with that look that says 'Are you expecting someone?  No?  Then should we ignore the door or interrupt bedtime and answer it?'

I decided that we couldn't ignore the door (that's just rude!), so I laid Ellie down and went to see who was there.  I was curious.  We get a fair amount of random people selling things door to door in our neighborhood, but this late?...

When I opened the door, 2 little girls were standing on our porch, clipboards in hand.  One of them was holding a bowl with a towel over it.  I recognized them as being children of the family that just moved in a few doors down earlier in the summer, but I had not yet met them.

My mind started to race.  Was something wrong with their parents?  Were they selling something? (in the summer?!)  I smiled and opened the door and said 'Hi!...'

I wish I had brought our video camera with me.  What transpired next is by far the funniest thing that has ever happened to us in this house since we moved in.

With a straight face, the older girl with the clipboard politely began...

Girl:  'We're conducting a survey. Can I ask you a few questions?'
Me: 'Sure!'  {tentatively thinking, 'on behalf of whom?'}

Girl: 'Do you think the economy is going to get better?'
Me:  ::momentary pause::  'Yes, eventually.' {Did your parents send you to try and find out what kind of people we are?}
Girl: ::makes a tally mark on a sheet of wide ruled paper... I can't help myself and I peek over at it... there are 3 questions, all with 2 columns drawn beneath them.  She is keeping track of the answers she is getting from... people!? Neighbors?! I begin to wonder if I'm going to see my answers pop up somewhere unexpected.  And if I'm giving the right answers.::

Girl: 'Ok... um, are you allergic to anything?'
Me: 'No.'  {A little personal for never having met, don't you think? Continuing to be bothered by the nagging questions I have no answers to: who sent her? Why don't they just come over themselves and say hello? Do they think we're weird? Not healthy? Unfit to live next to them?}

Girl makes another note under her allergy column that says 'none'.  It's very unofficial looking - 3rd grade chicken scratch, maybe.  But I'm getting nervous about what else she is going to ask and who she is going to be telling my answers to.  And yet, I continue to play along!  Somehow I cannot tell a girl who is one third my age that I'm done with her survey.

Girl: 'Alright, last question.'  She glances at her partner in crime, who continues to hold the mysterious bowl covered with a kitchen towel.  I haven't seen it move, so I'm pretty sure there isn't a snake or large bugs or anything like that under the towel.  But it's making me nervous. I keep one eye on it.
Me: ::finally:: 'Ok!'
Girl: 'What do you think is in my pocket?'  ::And then she starts to jump up and down, smiling! Something is rattling in her pocket.::
Me:  ::Are you kidding me?  Desperately trying not to laugh out loud, or look around for a hidden camera:: 'How about candy?'

She makes one final note in the 'pocket' column... CANDY.  She does not answer whether or not it's candy. 

Girl: 'That's the end of the survey.  And now, for your grand prize!'  ::She looks over at her little sidekick, and gestures with both hands towards the mysterious covered bowl like Vanna White or those girls in skin-tight, red sequined spaghetti strap dresses on The Price Is Right.::

The girl with the bowl looks at me for a moment with a half smile before pulling the towel off the bowl and peering down into it.  The smile fades as she examines the contents resting inside and then sizes me up again.   She appears to be halfway between embarrassed and mortified.  I look into the bowl and see a few broken crayons, a penny, and some candy I think?  I can't even remember exactly.  I'm weighing my options at this point - politely pick a 'treasure'?  Say 'thanks but no thanks, I have enough crap in my house'?, when the little girl saves me by sheepishly saying,

" don't have to pick anything if you don't want to."

Me: 'Ok, then. I think I'll pass.  Thanks girls!'

And with that, they skipped off to the next house, and I shut the door.  Rob came out to the landing and asked who was there, and as I tried to explain, I started to laugh so hard I couldn't even talk.  Why am I so paranoid?  They were just 2 bored little girls, entertaining themselves by knocking on their neighbors' doors and asking what I'm sure they thought were very clever questions.  The whole thing was so random though.

Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I just replay this scene in my mind and it always makes me laugh out loud.  I think I'll make time this week to take the girls and their family a plate of cookies, formally introduce myself, and welcome them to the neighborhood. 

I'm sort of hoping for another survey night in the future, and heaven forbid they pass up our house...!


Jennifer said...

What an odd event! Maybe if they come by again needing something to fill their time, you could give them the idea of someone's swing set! j/k :)

You know what I couldn't help thinking when I was reading this story though? It's nice to know that there are still nice, safe neighborhoods where parents feel comfortable letting their kids go off alone (in the evening no less)and visit their neighbors. Random, I know, but definitely something to be thankful for. You live in such a nice area!

Abby said...

That is just crazy! However, the crazier thing is that I would have totally done that when I was their age! :) My BFF and I used to always pick a neighborhood woman and become her "secret pal", leaving notes and "gifts" (probably pretty similar to your "prize" choices) for a few weeks before revealing who their "secret pal" was. We thought we were so grownup :) I hope you get another survey night in the near future ;)