Over the past 4 days, I’ve spent about 12 hours (total) walking door-to-door in my neighborhood, trying to collect signatures on a petition to get a parcel of land adjacent to the neighborhood (recently annexed by the city) zoned under a low-density classification to curb development and ensure our neighborhood doesn’t receive an influx of new traffic/noise/lower-quality housing that could adversely affect everyone in the neighborhood. I’ve got another resident who’s helping me with their end of the neighborhood, so I only had to hit about 80 or so houses, rather than the 160 I’d have to hit on my own. I’ve got a vested interest in this issue, since my house backs up on the land in question, but I’m also on the Homeowners Association (HOA) Board, so I felt it was my duty to participate in this activity regardless of whether it was my land or someone else’s land in the neighborhood impacted by this zoning issue.
I’m not a shy individual by any means, but the idea of cold-calling people or making door-to-door “sales” pitches is NOT my idea of a good time. Nevertheless, I decided to suck it up and make an effort. My biggest concern (and proven rightly so) was that people would think I was selling something and just wouldn’t come to the door, even if they were home. I can’t very well yell through the door, “No really! It’s OK! I’m not selling anything and I’m not a crazy axe murderer who will abduct you if you open your door in the middle of the day! I’m out here for your own good, trust me!” (Well, I could yell all that, but I doubt it would be very effective, even if the people inside DID hear me.)
So what did I find out from all my efforts?
- It is insanely hot outside right now. And muggy. Within seconds of stepping outside and into the sunlight, my forehead was pricked with sweat, and it only got worse from there. I carried as much water as I could and stayed in the shade where possible, but it was just TOO DAMN HOT out there.
- I met a number of kind, friendly, open-minded individuals who welcomed me inside their homes to discuss the issue. These are folks I may have met in passing in the neighborhood but in most cases, they didn’t know me from Adam. Yet they were kind enough to notice my plight and offer me a cool drink or at least a few minutes of A/C while I discussed the zoning issue with them. These are the people that make my neighborhood such a nice place to live.
- I met a number of people who came to door full of suspicion, all prepared to chase me off with a curt word if I DID turn out to be selling something. Most of these individuals warmed up a moderate amount once I explained who I was and why I was there. A few still seemed to think I was selling something, even after I explained IN DETAIL that I was just collecting signatures from residents to petition for the Rural zoning classification.
- It’s a lot easier to get people to sign a petition if they see an almost-filled form, rather than a blank sheet or a page with 1-2 signatures on it. Herd mentality, I think.
- It was TOO DAMN HOT to be walking around. I should have applied some sunscreen, too.
- I met a couple of people who were so anti-Homeowners Association & HOA Board that they almost didn’t want to listen to me after I introduced myself as a member of that elected group. Even though I was walking the neighborhood, in the heat, for their benefit (as well as my own, of course). These people couldn’t say enough negative things about the Board, and seemed to think that they could say anything they wanted to me, including lying/embellishing about any “wrongs” done to them by “The Board”. I kept what I hope was an apologetic face on, acted contrite if the situation warranted it, and actually got some good discourse going with a few of them after they ran out of steam on their initial gripe list. End result? Signatures on the petition, a bit of venting, and maybe some not-quite-so-cranky residents.
- Did I mention it was hot out there? Wait, no, it wasn’t hot. It was TOO DAMN HOT.
- The people in the neighborhood that were renting their houses were happy to be included in the petition effort, and were some of the nicest people I met overall. Just because you don’t own a house doesn’t mean you’re a second-class citizen in a neighborhood primarily composed of people that do own their houses. (And it definitely doesn’t mean you should be treated like one!)
- People who are home and don’t answer their doors when you ring their doorbell suck.
- People who aren’t home and leave their televisions on to pretend they’re home suck.
- People who have a sticker on their door asking firefighters to save their pets really should fill out the information indicating how many and of what type of pet they have, rather than leaving it blank and assuming the rescue workers will be able to magically find all the animals in the event of an emergency.
- Most of the people who invited me in have immaculate houses. I’d never invite someone in just because I’d be ashamed for them to see the inside of my house under normal conditions.
- It was TOO DAMN HOT. I’m not walking down the neighborhood for another petition until at least November. Or maybe January. Whew!
Total Houses Hit: Approximately 80
Total Houses Where Someone Answered Their Door: 45
Total Signatures Acquired: 44