We have been having a lot of trouble lately from solicitors coming to the house trying to sell us something or convert us to their religion, and I was sick of it.
Let me back up a minute and explain our situation. My wife and I are retired now and both of us are kind of stove up, me with arthritis and back pain, and my wife with lupus and spinal stenosis, so neither of us gets along real well on the best of days. We have been retired for about two years now. We both worked until our health forced us to retire. I'm Barnard Ruggles and my wife is Katheryn. I'm 72, Katie is 73, and we have been married for almost fifty-two years. Not bad for knowing each other for thirty three days before marriage, huh? Everyone said it wouldn't last, but it has. Sure we have had our rough patches, what marriage doesn't? But we talk to each other and love each other, and that's what matters. We started out with me having been in the military for only about a year and a half when we met. We ended up serving twenty-three years together. It may sound weird to talk about us both serving our country, but in reality, military spouses serve too, just in a different way.
The military spouse has to put up with the constant moving, the low pay (well, it was back then anyway). They are usually away from family, friends, and in some place most people would consider beneath them for quarters. But then too, the military is a very close knit society, you either make friends easily, or you are very lonely. You adapt in most cases; you cope with the hardships because you know deep down in your heart that by defending your country, your spouse is doing something noble and right. Trying to raise children in this environment is tough, especially when the spouse goes TDY (Temporary Duty) or even on unaccompanied tours of eighteen months to two years. The one left at home sometimes has to move off base or go home, and then they are truly alone. All alone. Their old friends have gone on with their lives and they don't have time for you now. Your friends from the military, if you stayed around the base you were at, now see you as a temptation to their spouse, so you are ostracized to an extent in some ways. That is not true in most cases, and your friends rally around and help you get through the worst of the times of separation.
I guess you can tell I am pro military. For so many years, our military men and women have been treated like second class citizens, and yet all the goody-goody people who scream for rights for this, and rights for that, forget that every right they have in this country is due to the military. Without them we could just as well be speaking Japanese, German, or maybe even Russian. Think back even further, without our military, we could still be a British constitutional monarchy like Canada or Australia. So take a moment and reflect on what you have in your daily lives and the freedoms you enjoy. If you like what you have, the next time you see a vet or a soldier, walk up to them and say, "Thank you for serving our country." Nine times out of ten, you will get a sheepish grin and a "You're welcome" from a very embarrassed person. We don't do it for glory, or money; we do it, because it is the right thing to do. Never forget that. Enough of my tirade on that subject, I know; I am getting crotchety in my old age; On to more pleasant things.
We have a nice three bedroom single story home in the back of a very nice subdivision. The subdivision is about twenty-five years old and we bought a house at the very back of the first area that opened up. We are surrounded by many old oak trees, and it is quiet and peaceful back here.
Since we have been retired, we have been inundated with sales people. There is the local paper, the next larger town paper, and general sales people trying to sell us the latest and greatest in something they feel we desperately need. Then there are the religious nuts, well not nuts, but you know the type. Some young men ride around on bicycles with knapsacks on their backs; others just are older grandmother type ladies from the local churches. There are even some of the neighbors and some real young chicks coming to ring our doorbell. I have tried signs; 'No Soliciting' and I even made one up that says, 'No Soliciting – That means No Selling and This Means YOU!!'
Do you think that that stops them? Hell no; we still get the AT&T guy trying to get us to switch our phone back to them, then he comes back a week later trying to sell us AT&T Uverse. The Dish guy or girl comes by, and so on. What is frustrating is when I am unable to come to the door and my wife comes and unlocks the door in her wheelchair, and they try to walk in through the storm door and sell her something. She usually is so fed up by then she just tells them to go away and shuts the door on them. The dead bolt is kinda hard to unlock from her sitting position. We are about at wit's end concerning this.
Because we are into old cars, we have one of our own, a nice 63 Oldsmobile 98 sedan, that we go on tours with and have a lot of fun. Sure, it's a pain packing up a scooter or wheelchair sometimes, but with the trunk size of the Olds, I can pack most things we need in there. I also have a hitch on it so I can bring either my wife's power chair or her big scooter with us on a shelf with a ramp. About once a month, we go out on a tour with the car club and visit some nice places. Probably three times a year, we go on a three to four day tour to someplace over a hundred miles away and stay at motels. There is usually some time set aside for the women to go antique shopping. This is a very favorite past time of many of the women. The men usually sit around discussing all the old cars we have owned, even when they were not considered old.
I let my wife go with the ladies most of the time, but I sometimes take her in the Olds if the antique stores are fairly far away from the hotel we are staying at, or from the place we are congregating. We have found many nice things to add to our house and yard. I have an old small handmade wooden windmill that was in real rough shape that I took home, rebuilt, and now graces the flower bed in the front yard. I found an ancient wind chime of a sunburst in amber glass that had glass rods as the chimes. It hangs on the front porch so we can hear the chimes when the wind blows. I take it in when we get a storm, because we had one rod that was broken when the wind blew a little too hard during one storm. That one was even a metal one. We later found out we had a wind shear from a tornado that came close to our area.
We also found a mahogany side table that fits perfectly beside my wife's electric recliner. Boy, she hates it when the power goes off and she is reclined. Our grandson, Stephen, finally gave her a solution, move the foot stool under the foot rest, then squirm her way down to end up sitting on the foot rest and then I can help her get up from there. We can attest that it works, as we had a sudden storm two weeks later, and the power went out for over six hours. Katie had to use the rest room after about an hour, so we tried his suggestion and, lo and behold, it worked perfectly. My wife is no longer as terrified of being trapped in storms.
For the better part of a year, we have been searching the antique stores looking for something, actually anything that we felt would scare solicitors away from our door. We thought of hanging a cross upside down, but thought that was too subtle. I thought a pit bull tied up to the front porch post would be a little too aggressive, and somewhere in between these extremes would be about right.
We found a statue of a young black boy with a lantern in his hand, but it would not be politically correct to have a statue like that on our porch in a mixed race neighborhood like ours. We kept looking around. I did find a very nice polished cherry wood cabinet that appeared to have once been an old radio cabinet that someone had put shelves into. It was perfect for our VHS/DVD collection. As our grandchildren grew up and we were a little more financially able, we bought most of the Disney movies VHS tapes. I guess we had probably fifty to sixty of them, plus some two hundred other movies we liked and wanted to see again, once we reached old age and had the time to watch them.
You know, it's funny and I'm not sure where the time has flown, but we somehow never seem to have the time to watch all those movies we wanted to see. I may have to see if I can sell some at our next swap meet. We must have over four hundred tapes and DVDs stored in five cabinets around the house. I have belonged to the Science Fiction book club for years, well since we settled down here in central Texas, and I must have over a thousand books, as well as die cast metal cars of all sizes. Those I have so many of that I can't display them all. They may go to the swap meet too. Hey, if I sell some of them, I will have room to buy more. Not like that will work, as my wife would just say 'no more.' Oh well, it was a good idea at the time.
Of course, this doesn't get the solicitors off our front porch, does it? So we have been looking for something to scare the solicitors away, but yet, not turn our friends off so they won't come calling anymore. What a dilemma, one of those damned if you do and damned if you don't type of things.
So we are always on the lookout for something unusual, yet shocking enough at the same time, to grace our porch or front door. I even tried to keep our Halloween witch poster taped to the door for a month after Halloween and I still got people bothering us. I'd almost rather have an invasion of in-laws overstaying their welcome, than have more solicitors coming to the door.
.... There is more of this story ...