Saturday, October 17, 2009

Knocker ID

Nobody loves caller ID more than I do, champion call screener that I am. Here's what's still needed: An ID system for when people unexpectedly show up at your front door. In the novel 1984, "Room 101" subjected a prisoner to his or her own worst fear, whatever that might be. If Big Brother were to lock me in there, hands down my torture would be people dropping by unannounced.

I recently experienced this torture, even though it's been years since I escaped the Orwellian netherworld. The knock came; my pulse quickened, my dog growled, and lightning bolted (somewhere). I have no peephole, so I must either miss Ed McMahon's successor bringing me a sweepstakes check, or hold my breath and face the intruder.

So I bravely opened the door, despite that in my capacity as a work-at-home freelance writer, I hadn't showered in two days. My hair was scary and I was wearing ripped, stained, and mismatched "clothes." So naturally, it turned out to be a male friend I had last seen six years ago, back before I was self-employed and could actually still afford daily bathing. "Surprise, Holly!" he said, as I wondered if my face had changed enough to say, "I'm sorry – you're looking for who now?"

The whole time we were catching up, all I could think of was how address listings, which had permitted this atrocity, should really be outlawed. So should the act of dropping in itself. Unless someone comes up with "Knocker ID." You'd have a card reader like at the ATM machines beside your door. Visitorus Uninvitus would slip his drivers license into it, whereupon you would hear the person's name announced inside your house. Then you could either ecstatically throw open the door, or else freeze into position with your coffee halfway to your mouth until you heard the person leave. Unfortunately, for those bold enough to commit drop-in terrorism in the first place, leaving often takes an hour or two.

In other countries, dropping in is a much more frequent, accepted part of socializing. As for me, having lived by myself until marrying at 41, I have such an acute sense of personal territory that it's miraculous my house isn't surrounded by a moat and a Rottweiler pack. My belief is, unless people are bringing you free stuff or tidings of the next virgin birth, they should phone first.

Frankly even if Jesus himself wanted to come over to let me know of his Second Coming, I bet even he would give a little notice. WWJD = Why Would Jesus Drop In? He wouldn't. He'd want you to have time to freshen up, at least wash your feet.

Just remember, Knocker ID. You heard it here first.