I never answer my door – unless I know you’re coming. Someone can bang away all they’d like, if I wasn’t informed of your arrival, I’ll become selectively deaf to your hammering. If you really want me to open the door, just call my house, tell me your standing there waiting for me, and I’ll be ever so gracious.
Seems really rude, I know. But I have my reasons (whether you agree with them or not)
1) The only people knocking on my door who I’m not expecting are collectors
2) I don’t keep any cash in the house
3) I think it’s an easier let down to think no one is home, than to be told they have nothing for you
It’s not a big deal, really. Most collectors will knock once or twice and leave if there’s no response. The problem arises when the collectors are not bona-fide meshulachim, with shtars from the Vaad, but when they come in a more miniature and menacing form – children.
Kids are the worst. They knock – persistently. They don’t wait, pause, give you moment to walk across your kitchen to receive them; it’s just knock – knockknockknock – knockknock –knockknockknockknock. And they don’t leave if you don’t answer the door. They peer into windowshades and start knocking all over again. Also, they’re generally neighborhood children, so they know my car, and whether they saw me leave or enter my home recently. You’d think they’d pick up after 3 years that I don’t answer the door. But they are a dogged bunch.
You know what, even if I did keep cash in my house to pass out when benevolence strikes me, I wouldn’t give to children. And further, I don’t intend to allow my children to collect. It may be standard procedure in Lakewood, I just think it’s bad chinuch.
The position of a meshulach, to have to go door to door to procure necessary funds is degrading. It’s embarrassing, and is only undertaken in the most dire of circumstances. And so it should be. To just ask of another person, another person in which you have no regard for each other, is the epitome of taking – and if the most Godly behavior is giving, then taking in such a manner is its contrast, and thereby ungodly.
My question is, why are school, organizations and parents encouraging children to engage in such behavior. Yes, I suppose in many cases the causes are worthy, but do you want to teach your children to just ask a random stranger for money, to take away the human mortification of the deed, and further embed it into their sociological structure of acceptable behavior? There are other ways to encourage a child to fundraise for a worthy cause without them soliciting door to door.
And then there’s this story.
I was on the phone with my sister while it happened so I can attest to its veracity. Her 6 year old daughter came over to her and requested 11 dollars.
“Why do you need 11 dollars?” my sister asked suspiciously. “Is this for a school trip of project?”
“No,” her daughter replied simply, “It’s for Rochel.”
“Why do you have to give 11 dollars to Rochel?”
“She’s collecting for Organization Blank Blank”
My sister got a litter confused here,
“Why does she need 11 dollars specifically?” my sister asked, voice rising, getting slightly indignant, “I can give her whatever amount I see fit.”
“Well, she want the Gameboy prize, and she needs 11 dollars.” My niece answered plainly.
My sisters eyes popped (I’m assuming they popped, I didn’t see her, but I know her expressions)
“You can give her 25 cents –from your own money!”
And my niece, totally not following what happened, stated simply,
“But she needs 11 dollars.”
My sister then put her hand on her hip and wagged her index finger at her daughter (once again, just speculating here), and said sternly,
“I’m not giving tzedakah, so Rochel can get a prize. If she wants a Gameboy, let her parents buy for her, I’m not sponsoring it, especially not with my tzedakah money.”
I’m not sure if my niece understood the message, but she definitely grasped her mother’s tone of voice and dutifully walked away.
“Did you hear that?” My sister asked me, returning to our conversation. “The chutzpah!”
And I agree.
So, would you let your child go door to door collecting?