Leave a little room

Sometimes the smallest, most unexpected things give me pause for thought.

The most recent was a visit from a door-to-door salesperson from Bell. Yes, I detest companies who try to sell me things on the phone or at my door, and I make an effort to avoid patronizing them. Bell in particular has a laundry-list of reasons we all should avoid any dealings with them, but this wasn’t the reason for my continuing to ponder this brief interaction.

The reason is I entirely misjudged the saleswoman. And yea, I hear you already, smartasses… it’s not because she was a woman!

One personality trait that I have always admired is the ability to put someone immediately at ease and talk to them when you’ve just met. I like to think I’m a good communicator, but I don’t I don’t have this gift when first approaching someone. This woman certainly had the gift.

She wanted me to sign up with Bell’s Fibe television service. My Mom has cable, and not only is she perfectly happy with it, but it would be an ordeal for her to learn to navigate a new remote control, and an entirely renumbered sequence of channels. My television viewing is via over-the-air antenna and a lesser quality, more expensive service isn’t about to sway me. I can’t imagine anyone walking the Earth could talk me into signing up with Bell.

Once she knew she wasn’t going to make a sale, I thought we were done, but she surprised me by asking me if she could have a glass of water. She pointed out, almost apologetically, that it was warm and sunny, and she was wearing mostly black. I saw no harm in it, so I asked her to wait a moment. On my way to get the water, I realized that I’d been had. Once she had the glass in her hands, she could continue to regale me about how great Fibe was and I’d be captive for as long as the water lasted.

What surprised me, and this is the part that has me continuing to ponder the event, is she made no further mention of Bell or Fibe. The remaining few minutes of our interaction was regular small talk. When she finished, she thanked me for the water, and went on to the neighbour’s house.

I prejudged her and I was wrong. I like to think that I give people the benefit of the doubt, and leave them room to disappoint me. In fact, this event tells me that I’ve grown more cynical than I’d like, and often fail to give people the benefit of the doubt, leaving only the smallest margin for people to surprise me in a good way.

I’m glad she came by.

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