As the white door slowly creaked open at number eight I smiled eagerly.
‘Hello, my name is Sarah,’ I chirped with enthusiasm.
Two beady brown eyes stared back at me. The door was slightly ajar, with the flat owner hiding behind it.
‘What do you want?’ the shadow hissed.
‘I’m working on behalf of the council and am here to talk about recycling’ I professionally explained.
‘Yes’ she said.
‘Do you recycle here?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ she defensively replied opening the door slightly more.
My question warmed her up somewhat. I asked a couple more things and explained a new scheme to the lady.
As the door went from fractionally open to almost half open, I felt hopeful. However moments later, I spied a silver shiny object poking out of her right hand. I took a closer look. A knife. This lady had answered her door gripping onto a serrated knife.
Who was she expecting at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon? I hurriedly finished my recycling spiel and predictably she did not want to sign up. I thought better of trying to persuade an non-communicative lady with a knife. I thanked her for her time and scurried off to the next door.
Ten minutes later I found myself talking to a keen, well-spoken, middle-aged lady from Sweden, who lived in a large expensive looking semi-detached house. We were comparing recycling projects in the UK and Scandinavia. There was no doubt in my mind that she would sign up. Moments later I was leaving her house with a new resident on board.
Following this positive experience I was faced with a 60 year old man wearing rounded spectacles.
‘Who’s there?’ he grumbled peering through his glass porch.
I proceeded to give my well-rehearsed introduction.
‘Anyone could make that name badge,’ he noted.
‘I have the council branded hi-vis…’ I began reassuring him.
‘Oh my goodness, look what you have done,’ he screamed in my face.
My heart raced at a million miles an hour. This man was extremely distressed.
‘You have made me get locked out, look my door – its shut. I am going to call the police on you. What am I to do? I’m locked out. POLICE’ He bellowed.
Gob-smacked that anyone in their right mind thought it was okay to shout at me. I froze on the spot before mustering up a response: ‘Do your neighbors have the keys?’
‘No – they do not,’ He retorted.
I felt so bad, this old man was locked out. It was dark outside and I had no idea what to do.
‘I am so sorry, I don’t know what to say,’ I replied looking at the ground.
‘I am going to have to break into my house now. I will break and enter,’ he angrily announced.
He bend down retrieving a black, ominous crow bar from behind a shelf on his porch. Like a dab hand he slotted it through his letter box and pried his front door open.
‘Right now what do you want?’ He asked.
‘I can let you go inside now, its fine. I’m sorry,’ I appologised about to turn around.
‘I was joking, what do you want?’ he jested.
This was no laughing matter, he had just put me through a tonne of stress and now confirmed that none of it was genuine. He had indeed set up the whole situation as a joke.
‘Well I am here to talk about recycling,’I started.
‘I don’t cycle,’ he looked at me like I was ridiculous.
I hurriedly explained the new REcycling, waste scheme. To which he replied he didn’t use the internet, so couldn’t sign up.
I left his house in a hurry and took a deep breath.
The three to five minutes I spend with individuals I get a glimpse into their lives and culture. While some are welcoming others are far from it.
Traveling opens your eyes to different ways of living in various countries. However, what we often forget is that literally on our doorsteps there is a vast range of cultures. London is so diverse, there is so much to learn and see, from talking to people. I selected examples to write about that were slightly shocking but I also met fascinating people too.
If you can’t go travelling this Christmas, travel around your local neighborhood. Door to door knocking jobs are a great way to do this.
Just don’t take things too personally!
And make sure you are doing it for a good cause.
Stay tuned for more stories…