Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Cold Callers at Christmas
Cold callers, those strangers who turn up on the doorstep or on the phone offering their services or flogging their wares, aren't usually welcome here. Part of my husband's job involves protecting vulnerable people from unscrupulous callers who con them out of money by fixing things which don't need repair or distract them and then steal their purses. So he is always wary and often rude to any stranger who rings the doorbell.
So it was a good job I answered the door to the first cold callers we had last weekend, an elderly couple offering me a copy of Watchtower and drawing my attention to its message 'Do we Need a God?' I was polite; accepted their magazine but affected a busy, distracted manner to avoid engaging in further discussion. My faith in an eternal being, who could sort out the mess in this world and provide a happy afterlife for the chosen few, has long since evaporated, despite many years of Sunday school as a child.
Then on Sunday afternoon we had another caller. A teenager on a bike carrying a green bucket. Struggling a bit with his words, he offered a 'pay what you like' hand car wash. My first reaction was to send him packing: he looked a bit dodgy and might be checking to see if we were in before pinching something. But it was nearly dark and freezing; he had a nice smile and didn't look much older than my daughter. She was sitting in the warm on the other side of the glass watching 'Nativity' while simultaneously stalking her schoolmates on Facebook. It was a real 'no room at the inn' moment. So I got him a bucket of hot water and let him loose on my grubby car. Not much cash in the house: I'd spent it all on buying presents of chocolate from Thornton's for Kate's friends which they don't need or want much. We managed to gather up £4.88, some of it in 5ps. He was pathetically grateful. And he'd removed a layer or two of grime from the car even if it wasn't exactly a professional job.
Am questioning my motivation for including this in my blog. Am I trying to portray myself as some kind of Samaritan in a world full of greed? No - I'm as selfish as the next person, walking past the Big Issue seller with only a glimmer of guilt on my way back from Thornton's to meet husband in Costa earlier that day. But the whole Christmas greed thing does start to get to me at this time of year. The queue outside the Pandora shop on Sunday morning snaked right along the street. Past the doorways where it's not unusual to see a homeless person sheltering in the streets of this affluent town. My first cold callers were right. We do need a God. But where is he?