Knocking on peoples’ doors as a way of introducing myself to them is an unnerving prospect, so I’ve gathered some tips from the web that I hope will keep me out of bad situations. A caveat: I’m writing this post in a lobby where MTV2 is broadcasting, so I can’t guarantee the quality of what follows. You know how it’s a good idea when you’re trying to do your best to surround yourself with the best? It’s dangerous to try to make something worthwhile when the context you’re working in is of such sub-par quality that any effort on your part represents a substantial improvement on the situation. Right now there’s a show on about a heavy black guy and a skinny white guy who may be a skater. I feel like a normal fish in a very stupid pond.
- The first thing I’m going to do is keep a friendly expression on my face and speak in a clear, confident voice. I won’t offer a handshake unless the person comes onto the porch to greet me. And I’ll state my purpose right away, as most people assume that I’m a religious proselytizer or a salesman until I say otherwise.
- I will have either a card or a brochure to hand out. I think I’ll say something like, “Can I leave this with you?” I should offer it with a choice, so I’m not forcing them to take something they don’t want. And, because people may not be receptive to me as I stand on their porch and take up their time, the literature I leave will give them a chance to see what I’m about on their own time.
- Some sites warn that there are some lonely, chatty people out there, and that I should keep a mental clock and not stay for more than a few minutes, especially if the person wants to debate me. The advice I’m reading is mostly for political canvassers, and since I’m not out to promote any political values, I think I’ll be okay to chat for a minute. After all, these are my neighbors, and as long as my internal crazy alarm isn’t buzzing, I’ll savor a chat for a little bit. I live in the region where King of the Hill is set, so I’ve been really wanting to sip beer in the alley and shoot the bull with my neighbors. This may be the way to make that happen!
- I shouldn’t be discouraged by a string of negative responses, because most people just don’t like to be bothered. I’ve just got to persevere. I really can’t wait to see how people react to my overtures. A lot of people may well think I’m crazy because suburban protocol expects us to keep to ourselves and not to go out of our way to engage each other. So, I’ll try to keep my chin up when folks blow me off, and with luck and persistence I might be able to convert some of them to neighborly friends.
- If someone insults me I should just be cool, smile, and say, “Have a nice day,” because there’s no need to start a confrontation. Maybe I’ll add, “See you around,” since we live in the same neighborhood, just to remind him or her that we’re part of the same community, and that you can’t just dis someone and expect never to see the person again. I want to promote a little interconnectedness in the neighborhood. It is said, and I believe it, that one of the reasons there’s more social and political division these days is because we don’t know our neighbors and, therefore, don’t know how to live with people who are both decent and different from ourselves. I want to cut across this trend.
- I should emphasize that it’s just me, and that I’m not sharing anyone’s agenda but my own. I’m already at a disadvantage by knocking on their door and bothering them, so I need to express my motives clearly and immediately and try to bring their guard down.
- Wear a nametag. Oh man, this is awesome. I’m going to design my own tag to identify myself and look professional. I won’t be a nameless drone, but Jim Public, your local artist!
- In keeping with my respectable haircut, I’ll also dress conventionally. If I dress unusually I may associate myself with radical ideas, and most people don’t like that. My ideas, in fact, are somewhat radical, but they are also based in the familiar tradition of community, so my hope is that the nice shirt and nametag will help take the edge off my agenda of getting my name out there by getting to know my neighbors.
Man, this blog is starting to get a little heavy on words and light on action and photos! This is as it must be for now, but I am determined to round out the content with more activity and more pictures. Soon enough. Once Facelife starts in earnest, this blog will pick up the pace in all kinds of unpredictable ways.