It doesn’t matter that there’s a no-solicitors sign on the front door.
The door hangers come anyway. Sometimes they just roll up their one-sheet spiels and tuck them into the handle of the door.
I don’t really have a problem with that. They’re just trying to make a living, and a pizza coupon can be handy now and then.
The one the other day said “Plan your ‘STAYcation’ with us. It’s like going to the beach or the mountains or the rain forest – or all three.”
I chose to ignore the logical flaw at play here: If I’m planning a staycation, as they’re called, it’s probably because I’m strapped for cash. Why do I need to pay a consultant to help me not spend money?
The storefront was at the dusty end of a lonely street of what Johnny Cash used to call “the hopeless, hungry side of town.” The sign in front said “no solicitors.”
There was one guy inside behind the counter.
“Hey,” he said. “What’s up?”
“Well, I’m interested in a refreshing and rewarding trip to new and exciting places without leaving my hometown, even though I’d really like to go to Nova Scotia.”
“Nova Scotia is new and exciting?”
“It would be for me. How can you help?”
“Hold on,” he said, stepping into a back room. He came back with a 20-year-old National Geographic with an article under the heading “The Wild Wonders of Atlantic Canada.”
“Enjoy,” he said.
“That’s it? I could get more than this on the Internet.”
“Aha. And where do you go online?”
“Well, the office and at home. Why?”
“Exactly! The two places from which you seek to escape. And you have, good buddy. Now grab a seat over there and imagine away. Think of moose and lobsters. Think of the forested mountains of Nova Brunswick.”
“That would be Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Moose – yes. Mountains – no. This is your job, right? You’re like the worst travel agent ever.”
“No, no. Not travel agent. I’m a mental excursion facilitator.”
“Really. How’s that working out?”
“You’re my first customer. I spent a whole week stuffing flyers in doorways and then another week waiting for my first ... I mean, waiting for you, sir.”
“I thought the idea was to stay home and do something, not sit around thinking about where you aren’t. That’s what we do during long corporate meetings or particularly dry sermons. Give me something to work with.”
“How about a safari? You know, deep in the bush, chasing wildebeest and elephants game across the savannah.”
“OK. I’m game.”
“Here’s what you do. You get on I-70 and head west. Go to the speedway ...”
“Wait a minute. Are you talking about that exhibit at Cabela’s? I’m pretty sure they’d bring charges if you took a shot at the stuffed lion.”
“That’s the excitement. It would be your new experience with the criminal justice system.”
“Armed criminal action for a stuffed lion? I’ll pass. Besides, that’s across the state line over in, you know, that other place.”
“Stop! I know what it is. I’ve driven through it on my way to vacation before. That’s close enough.”
“Sir, you really should get out more. See the wider world, or at least Lawrence.”
“Watch your tongue, buddy. Hand me another National Geographic, the one about Hawaii.”
“Sure. Have a seat. Enjoy a Coke. There’s a machine in the back, and it's only 75 cents.”
“Yeah, that’s more my speed. Canada can wait.”