Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bookfield, Cedar Shoals

Finally I had covered my territory to where Cedar Shoals was the next neighborhood on my route. I had been there a couple of times before, and couldn’t wait to sell there. I turned my bike off of the main thoroughfare and onto the first side street I came to, Clarke Drive. Green lawns dotted with children’s playthings, thoughtfully landscaped shrubs and trees and newly painted houses welcomed me. I went to the first house on the left and nobody was home. Maybe it was too early in the morning. I would revisit the house on my way out later that day.

The next house had a big shady maple in the front. A car was in the driveway, so someone was home. I knocked on the door and stood back. A young woman opened the door. I gave my approach, but the young woman said that the people who owned the house were away on vacation and she was just checking in. “Fine.”, I said, “When will they be back?”

She seemed about to tell me when her eyes widened and she retreated from the door saying, “Just please go away.” With that, she closed the door. I made nothing of it and decided I would need to check back on this house in some after some weeks had gone by. It would keep.

I went to the next house, a white split level with brown eaves. It was surrounded by low, manicured yews. It had many windows facing the front, including a large bow shaped picture window. The woman who answered was downright friendly. Her face had an open quality, like the windows of the house. She offered me a coke and I accepted. We sat down in the living room, she on the sofa and me on a chair facing the picture window. I gave the demo for the Family Bible Library and she seemed interested. I was in the middle of writing out the order when I happened to glance out the window and see a police cruiser slowly drive by.

“What are you looking at dear?” Mrs. Jones asked.

I answered, even though I had qualms about it. “It’s the police; they just went by outside your window.” She had a ‘so what?’ look on her face so I continued. “I think they are after me.”

“Now why would that be?”

“I was just at a house across the street and a young woman told me that the owners were vacation. She probably thought that I was casing the joint because I asked her when they would be back. She looked worried and suspicious as I left. I never would have thought that someone would call the police on me for that.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that. Those people are kind of strange over there and you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Well but maybe I should go out there and explain it all to them.”

“That would only make you look guilty. You haven’t done anything wrong and should not let them know you think they’re here for you. Besides, the police here are very good at their jobs. If they are here for you, they’ll catch up to you sometime. So, don’t worry. Now, where were we? The deposit. Is half okay?”

By the time I finished the sale, and my coke, and got out of there the police drove by again. But they were nowhere in sight when I got out side. I reviewed what I had learned from sales school about handling the police. The saying was that you were not a man (or woman?) until you spent a night in jail. My twin sister was actually taken to jail for vagrancy while selling books last year. She had the police telephone Robbie to verify her employment. But they let her stew for a while before letting her go. Robbie used to say that the perfect response to the police was to try to sell them a book so they would send you on your way quickly. I took my Parchment employment card and sales permit out of my wallet and put them in my pocket. I was prepared.

So I moved on down the block. I managed to visit a couple more houses before they caught up to me standing on the side walk. There were two cops in the car. The passenger side cop got out of the car and asked, “Would you please get in the back of the car?” He opened the door.

“Hi there officer. What seems to be the problem?”

“We just want to talk to you. Please get in.” I put my bike down on the grass between the side walk and street and got in the car. The officer also got in. He turned to face me and continued, “Do you have a permit to sell books?”

I handed him my papers. They called my name in to the station and meanwhile, asked me some questions. “Where are you from?”

Nassau County, New York, Sir.”

“How long do you plan on being in town?”

“Just for the summer. I go back to college at the end of August.”

“And where are you staying?”

“In Athens on Meigs Street.” I answered. His tone was so serious that I really began to wonder if they were going to take me in to the station. Then they stopped talking to me for a while.

“Did you ask a woman on this street about the owner’s return from vacation?”

“Yes Sir I did.”

“Well, you got the lady worried that you might have been making plans to burglarize that house. Why did you ask for that information?”

“I planned to return when they got back from vacation to sell them some books. I guess it wasn’t very smart of me to ask.” I offered.

“Nope. We’re just doing our duty checking out a complaint, but we trust you’re telling us the truth. Had you heard about the crime problem going on in Athens where you live?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well you be careful. There’s some nut on the loose out there raping women and stabbing them to death afterwards. There are five victims now.”

“Five?” I said a little shocked that these serial attacks had continued since I was there.

“Yeah. Try not to be out and about in your neighborhood after dark. Patrols have been increased. If you see anything strange while you’re out on the road let us know.”

“I will officer.” I was always back home after dark, but I never stopped riding for anyone or anything, until I reached my destination.

The passenger side officer then got out of the car and opened my door. What bragging rights it would be if I could sell a book to one of the officers. Leastways I wanted to be able to say that I had tried. I wanted to launch into a demo, but I had left my sales case outside on the bike. As I got out of the car and stood, I began a modified demo-approach to ease into showing the Bible Dictionary. The officer just waved me off. “Be careful now.” he said.

They drove off after a while, and I resumed knocking on doors. Many of the neighbors had seen me get in and out of the police car, but surprisingly, none were suspicious of me as a result. It was just their police doing their job, and I had passed inspection. In all, the greater Cedar Shoals area was great territory and I did rather well there. Mostly the people living there were young couples raising families. Today we would call them yuppies. There was no such term in 1976. I saved a small piece of territory in Cedar Shoals in case I found myself in the middle of a bad week at some time in the future. It was the last chunk of suburbia left in my territory. All the rest was rural.


Ryan said...

i always love your stories even tho most have been sad. hope u have a good weekend.

Sue said...

Thanks Ryan.

savante said...

Ouch! You must have been through a lot, darlin :)


Sue said...

Yes, Dr. Paul. That is why I decided to write a book. Thanks!