Canvassing: Knock, Knock, Knocking On Someone’s Door — “Who’s There?”

a door of perception doors

Sorry, devoted Readers, for not writing for such a long time. I can only imagine the anguish and emptiness.

Lately, instead of ranting and wisecracking on WordPress about my absurd life, I’ve been wandering around my snow-piled neighbourhood, knocking on the doors of strangers and asking for their names and phone numbers. No, it’s not some desperate and pathetic search for romance — I’m doing a petition. So far, after four days, I’ve collected around 300 signatures. I could have had a lot more than that, but apparently it’s “unethical” to sign people’s names on their behalf and without their knowledge. If it wasn’t for that technicality, I’d have signatures from Bono, Barack Obama, Barry Manilow, Bob the Builder and a whole lot more.

So, you ask, what’s the petition about? I’m glad you asked me that.

If you didn’t, in fact, just ask me that, skip the next paragraph. Actually, stop reading this article — never read my stuff again! And don’t even THINK about buying either of my books!

Anyway, to my remaining readers: the petition asks our local governments (federal, provincial, city and school board) to build an all-ages recreation centre in a nearby park (the park I wrote about in my ghost article). There is an elementary school at that location now, but Hamilton’s evil and demented school board is closing the school, so that the money from its sale can pay for renovations at a school in a richer neighbourhood (where our school board trustee lives). We don’t want our school to go, but if it does, we’d like it to be replaced with a rec centre — not condos, not student housing, not a parking lot, not another nuclear reactor. (We live a short walk from a little research reactor at McMaster University; it hasn’t melted down as of yet, I’m happy to say. Keeping my fingers crossed!)

The on-line version of the petition is here:

If you live in Hamilton, please sign!

If you don’t live in Hamilton, please move to Hamilton immediately, then sign!

When you are standing on a stranger’s doorstep and want to tell the stranger to open the door and talk to you, you are presented with several choices.

1. Doorbell or knocking? Generally, if there is a doorbell present, you should use it. However, some people have broken doorbells, so if nobody answers the ring, wait for about 20 seconds and then try knocking. It’s best to knock on the wood part of the door, not any glass windows or parts covered by decorative cloth. Knock more than twice but less then 10 times. Too few knocks and people don’t notice; too many makes some people think that you’re the police, trying to shatter the door with a battering ram.

2. What to say first? I like to start with, “Hi, my name is Mark Coakley and …” After that, it’s all improv. Like this blog. Say what you feel!

3. What to do if nobody answers? If you leave too soon, you could be on the sidewalk when you hear the “click” of an unlocking door and you turn around and see someone, far away, opening the door you’d knocked on, so you have to run back and up the porch stairs and, panting, say, “Sorry, my name is,” etc.

4. What if, while waiting for someone to answer the door, you forget why you’re there? While waiting at doors, I sometimes stare into the distance or daydream or try to meditate. If the homeowner opens the door suddenly, I can be surprised in mid-reverie. The homeowner looks at me, wondering, Why is this man on my porch? I look back at the homeowner, wondering, Why am I on this person’s porch? This happens far too often. People who answer doors should wear name-tags, so that canvassers can more easily identify you and figure out why we’re on your front porch.

5. What if the person who answers the door disagrees with your petition? This is a tricky situation. On the one hand, you don’t want to be a hypocrite and deny what you believe in. On the other other hand, you don’t want to get punched in the nose. So, tell these types honestly how you feel, while backing up and getting ready to run away across their front lawn.

6. What if the person, after signing your petition, tries to steal your pen? This happens more often than you might imagine. My advice: Let Them Have It. The pen, I mean.

7. How to leave? If the person who answers the door wants to talk, that is a good thing — up to a point. Some people want to talk and talk and talk, which means you could be stuck on one porch for half an hour or more before you manage to gasp, “Well, I gotta get going.” Then, run away across their front lawn.

8. What to wear? Almost every university student who answers the door is in flannel pajamas and bare feet, but that dress-code doesn’t work for me. It’s insanely cold in Hamilton right now, so I wear: 1 pair of thin socks, 1 pair of thick socks, 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of long silk underwear, 1 pair of normal underwear, 1 thermal-knit cotton undershirt, 1 thin sweater, 1 thick sweater, 1 Kwandri wool jacket from my brother in New Zealand, 1 down vest my father-in-law gave me, 1 big winter jacket that’s missing a hood, 2 winter hats and a pair of gloves so padded they look like boxing gloves. Sometimes, I also wear sunglasses.

9. What to think about while waiting for someone to answer the door? Lately, I’ve been pondering my next article: Renovations III: This Is The Bathroom Of My Dreams And/Or Nightmares

10. Why am I doing this? Simple: love for my community. Do you love your community? If so, what have you done lately for your community?

cartoon petition signature

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7 responses

  1. If the rec thing doesn’t work out, I have a suggestion. It should be a winner. Will bring in money to help the local economy. How bout a prison? Its good for employment. Prison guards, secretaries, wardens. In fact with your impeccable credentials I would say you’d make an excellent warden. You’d get a clean neighborhood. Chain gangs do a great job. Lower your crime rate, what with all the cops around to make sure no prisoner escapes. The school board want even need to renovate the buildings. The bureau of prisons will do that. More jobs there renovating. And the great thing is that if you don’t have enough convicts we can send you some of ours. The state of Texas has more than it can handle. Don’t you think its a great plan?

    1. I’m convinced, Don. The US planes dropping pennies over Canada can also deliver to us, by parachute, your most desperate and hardened criminals. If planes are too expensive for transporting your prisoners here, just chuck them across the border with a catapult.

      1. Maybe I should get the catapult concession.

        1. I’m fine with that. But can you aim, or will they fall into Lake Ontario?

          1. Yep,. Years of practice. Texas has been shipping con’s off to California for over a decade but they’ve run out of room. We thought about Siberia but you know how the russkies are. Canada will do nicely.

  2. Always funny. Thanks for that.

    1. Matt, I appreciate your encouragement and I’ll try to amuse you more in the future.

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