Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Salesman Gambit

Twice in two years now I've received a knock on my front door well after dark.  I'm always cautious, but still very quick to answer it, and in both cases, whoever knocked had already moved on to the next house.  Upon seeing me open my front door, a young man came running back to my house.  He is very polite, and promptly pulls out a Baltimore Sun newspaper for me to inspect, and he goes into a story about how he plays for the Laurel High School football team, and he is out trying to raise money for the team to help him pay for his future college education.  The young man, who truthfully looked to me to be much older than high school age, said he had been accepted to Towson University.  I didn't want to purchase a subscription to the newspaper, but he was quick to suggest that I could just give him cash, of which he had plenty and showed me to prove that other people had given him money, or he would even take a check or credit card.

I live in Howard County, not Prince George's, so I do not support Laurel High School.  I hate to pick and choose, but I want to support the kids in my community, and I consider Reservoir High School my community's school (even if we are in the Hammond district), particularly since my wife was a teacher at Reservoir.  When I voiced to the young man that I support Reservoir, he quickly changed his story that he was not a student at Laurel any longer, that he was only trying to raise money for his college education.  Essentially, he was asking me for money, not a donation.  This sure sounded fishy to me.  This was the same ploy tried by the young man who came to my home last year.

My suspicions got the best of me, and, when I told the young man that I wasn't comfortable giving him money, he got angry, and walked away spewing insults at me.  Hmmmm....I guess that's a good strategy, which certainly makes him seem much more genuine.  Maybe I should change my mind and give him lot's of money!  That's sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell.

I'm more than happy to help out legitimate fundraising for area schools, but my focus will always be on my daughter and her school, and the schools in my immediate community.  But this door-to-door stuff is a huge red flag, especially since it was well after dark.  I was concerned that he may try something violent, given how angry he acted.  I was legitimately worried about him returning at another time and vandalizing my home or car.

I'm glad schools have gotten away from going door-to-door for legitimate fundraising.  I remember having to do that very thing when I was a kid.  It was extremely uncomfortable to go up to a stranger's front door and ask them to purchase something to support our fundraising activity.  The possibility of them saying, "No," was a hard thing to hear.  I don't think I could allow my daughter to do something like that, and in fact it's probably too dangerous to even consider.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this was a con, and I warned a few of my neighbors, one of which was quick to agree with me.  It's a shame that this kind of thing happens.

Stay safe out there!  Have a great evening, everyone!

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