Sorry We Missed You
“I’m trying to concentrate over here!” Without fail, it occurred when I was deeply embedded in a story—the lines flowing like river-rapids—lines I could never recoup with my post-menopausal brain: the phone rang, the dogs barked, or there was insistent knocking at the front door. This particular day, it began with a knock.
I felt certain this month’s column would be a homerun if I could just get five minutes of peace and quiet. I was dotting that last “i” and crossing that last “t” when I was jolted by unrelenting pounds on the front door. My three dogs leap-frogged-it to the entry-hall, barking ferociously. My irritation built, as I tiptoed to glance through the peephole. The bubble-lens distorted everything. A disheveled cowboy hat above a grizzled rippled face, and in the distance, a panel van with—from what I could tell—one word stenciled on its side. “MEAT!” Wow, those meat-people are persistent. I thought back to the last time a meat-man knocked on the door and how it prompted me to finally install the peephole.
It was mid-morning on a weekday, a popular time for door-to-door sales calls, when the knock came. I opened the door to find a handsome young man standing there. He immediately launched into his sales pitch:
“Good morning! I was in the area delivering meat to your neighbor and had extra steaks in the truck. My boss will probably fire me for this; but just between you and me, I can sell you some steaks at cost.”
I looked down the hill to see a white panel van, void of graphics, parked alongside the mailbox. I was suspicious.
He continued, “Your neighbor just got out of the hospital. This vacuum-sealed meat is great for people wanting a quick and easy-to-prepare meal.”
“Which neighbor?” I was concerned I’d missed some of the neighborhood gossip. He pointed in a vague direction. The vagueness of his pointing was suspect. The vague-pointing must be the gold standard of salesmen. They all used it. It must be incorporated into initial training classes, Meat-Sales 101 & Four Keys to Success:
He was confused how his sales-pitch went so wrong—so fast. I walked around to the kitchen window to watch him shuffle down the hill to his meat-van. He looked so dejected that I felt a little sorry for him.
They changed their routine this time around. They added “MEAT!” to the van to deter suspicion related to buying curbside steaks. They also sent a seasoned salesman. At least, thanks to the peephole, I avoided the irritation and never opened the door. I tried to imagine any scenario that would entice me to purchase meat from an unknown source out of the back of a windowless panel van. Not picturing any, I tiptoed back to the sofa, knowing my concentration was hopelessly bungled, and attempted to get back into The Writing Zone. Sheesh! Interruptions! Eventually, the knocking fizzled and peace was restored...until next time.
Later, I headed out to check the mail and found a flyer hanging on the doorknob. Just one word “MEAT!” followed by, “Sorry we missed you."
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by true events in the life of a writer just trying to concentrate.
Recreated for the 5-Minute Memoir series on Writer's Digest
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