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Strangers and Traveling Salespeople (and thanks a lot Walt Disney)

April 17, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a mother and a daughter who were at home when they heard a knocking at the door. Que the dog barking and the little girl running to the door to see who had come calling. …

Okay, enough with the fairytale mentality. So this situation actually happened to me and Sophie last week when we were sitting at home, minding our own business. The knock at the door ended up being a door-to-door salesperson who was selling – of all things – financial planning services.

First of all, do people still go door to door to sell? (I’m not talking about the Girls Scouts in this scenario.) Every once in a while, we’ll get a salesperson come to our door that wants to sell us new windows, pest control, or whole-house painting. Needless to say, all these sales people say the exact same thing, “I’ve been talking to your neighbors and they said blah blah blah …”

So when the financial planning dude said the same thing, I wanted to say back to him, “Really, you talked to my neighbors? Because every one of you say that same line. So I find it hard to believe that it’s true.” You would think if people are going to solicit door to door they would get a more creative shtick.

The second strange thing about this interaction is the fact that he is selling financial planning services. What kind of person decides to buy financial planning services from a traveling salesperson?! A stranger is the last person I’m going to trust with my financial information. Which leads me to wonder if this guy is even a real financial planner.

So finally, after I kicked the salesman off my porch, I decide to use this experience as an opportunity to talk with Sophie about not talking to strangers. I tell her that only mommy and daddy can open the door, and we especially do not open the door to strangers. She also should not talk to strangers.

She seemed to get the concept, even explaining that’s what the grandmother said to Little Red Riding Hood, and the fairies said the same to Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. Great, she gets it!

And then do you know what she says?

“But mommy, in Sleeping Beauty, the Prince was a stranger and Aurora talked to him.”

She’s right! What do I say to that?

I ended up persuading Sophie that Aurora really shouldn’t have talked to the Prince. But the story is make-believe and things that happen in Disney movies don’t always happen in real life. Okay, she said, but made sure to point out that conversing with animals in the woods is acceptable. Apparently animals are not strangers (pit bulls excluded).

So thank you very much, Walt Disney, for taking a perfect teachable moment and throwing it back in my face. Evidentially princesses are exempt from the rules of society. Or perhaps the Prince was actually hoping to make a financial planning sale. Hmmm … makes you wonder.

If this were your daughter, would you want her talking to this guy? Is this appropriate for an initial meeting?

27 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2012 3:44 am

    Oooh, that is such a great comment from Sophie — and never thought of that angle from a child’s POV… that eventually as they get older, it will be okay to talk to “some strangers,” but others not so much. And the line keeps moving, and the conversation goes on. So complex! (p.s. And eventually moving from in person, salespeople at the door to bloggers you meet across the country…. or –for our kids– the people they meet on Facebook… very tricky territory)

    • April 18, 2012 11:19 pm

      It is scary, isn’t it Julia? I guess that’s why we teach the lessons now and hope they’ll stay with kids as they grow.

  2. April 17, 2012 3:54 am

    From the mouths of babes… but stranger awareness is important!

  3. April 17, 2012 4:57 am

    I love her answer!!!!! That is so cute!

    • April 18, 2012 11:20 pm

      She’s too smart for her own good (and mine)!

  4. April 17, 2012 6:30 am

    I’ve talked to Max for a long time about strangers and at the age of 12 he was finally old enough to stay home alone – I would leave him for a couple of hours at the time with an alarm on. He is 13 years old now and the rules are the same don’t open the doors to strangers and don’t talk to any strangers. Few days ago, while I am still at work and he is home from school – he decided to open the door to a Scotts (lawn service) man and let him in. I called him to check on him and heard him speaking to a stranger – I was furious, scared – left my work right away. Thank G-d – it was a real Scotts man, who left as soon as he heard me screaming on the phone, but once again I had to give Max a lecture about strangers……

    • April 18, 2012 11:21 pm

      OMG, I would have been freaking out too! But really, why would that Scotts guy even come in if you weren’t there? Oh well. Glad it was a teachable moment.

  5. April 17, 2012 6:31 am

    You just never know what kids are paying attention to.

    • April 18, 2012 11:21 pm

      So true! That’s why I feel I have to be extra cautious. I’m such a paranoid mom. But I guess that’s better than one that doesn’t care.

  6. April 17, 2012 6:36 am

    Don’t talk to strangers… unless they are handsome! Thanks, Disney! Cute story.

  7. April 17, 2012 7:22 am

    A great lesson and SO funny! I agree – girl scout cookies or your neighbors child selling something for the school….okay. Financial planning? Not in this lifetime!

    • April 18, 2012 11:22 pm

      Thank you, Ann. Really? People actually sell financial planning? I only take cookies!

  8. April 17, 2012 7:42 am

    It’s a sad fact that many of the people who sell things door-to-door are scam artists. I never buy services from anyone unless I’ve checked references and the door-to-door people usually don’t really have them. The worst part is that they often won’t leave unless I’m cold to the point of being rude. I hate how I feel after an encounter.
    Sometimes I feel like I should just tell them I’m not allowed to talk to strangers and let them think I’m odd. 🙂

    • April 18, 2012 11:23 pm

      That would be funny. I may try that too, Shary. It’s true about having to be rude to get rid of the people. I find myself in that same situation. At least my “ferocious” dogs help keep some of the people away.

  9. April 17, 2012 8:16 am

    There are always exceptions to the rule, but the main thing is you used a great teachable moment to explain something very important to Sophie. Nowadays this information is more than vital. Well done!

    • April 18, 2012 11:24 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. I hope it sticks. By the way, I’ve been trying to comment on your posts from my iPad and I’m not sure if they go through to your blog. Have you had recent comments from me? Dang iPad. I’ll need to check your posts from an actual computer.

  10. April 17, 2012 9:55 am

    Hi, Leah. Visiting from She Writes. This is hysterical. Door-to-door financial planning services? Now I’ve heard everything. There’s a real benefit of living on a mountaintop as I do where no salespeople dare to venture. Love your interaction with Sophie. Have kids always been so darn smart? As for Disney, I was an “Old Yeller” victim, so I hold a grudge from way back.

    • April 18, 2012 11:25 pm

      Thanks for dropping by, Jayne. I want to move to a mountaintop where I won’t be disturbed! That sounds heavenly. I can’t even watch “Old Yeller” without completely falling apart. Not good!

  11. crytzerfry permalink
    April 17, 2012 3:54 pm

    There are advantages to living in the rattlesnake-infested boonies and having (by law) to keep a locked gate so that open-range cattle don’t get smashed on the highway. No financial planner salesfolk! 🙂

    • April 18, 2012 11:25 pm

      You are lucky, Melissa. And hopefully the javelinas keep them away too 😉

  12. April 17, 2012 5:45 pm

    Leah, I say, turn every moment into a teaching moment even if you have to make clarifications! Looks like you managed to get your point across while still keeping the magic of fairy tales alive in Sophie’s mind! 🙂

    • April 18, 2012 11:26 pm

      That’s a good point, Bella. I hope I haven’t crushed her fairy tale imagination yet. But the stranger rule is one that needs to be learned.

  13. April 18, 2012 6:14 pm

    When people come to my door soliciting, I open my wooden front door but keep the glass security door locked and talk through the glass to tell them I’m not interested. They get tired pretty quickly of trying to be heard through a glass door and leave me alone. Sophie is quite a smart cookie! I think she might be on the debate team when she grows up.

    • April 18, 2012 11:26 pm

      Yes, Susan, I think you’re right about Sophie. Sometimes she’s too smart (for me too)!

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