Closing the Door on Something Free

I remember my mom answering the front door, saying, “No thank you” and closing the door on somebody who had knocked on the door.
“Oh, mom, how can you do that? That’s rude. Besides, he said he had something free!”
My mom looked at me, shook her head and said, “I don’t have time for that nonsense and nothing’s free, Phil.”
“But he said it was free,” I repeated, thinking that we missed out on something.
“He’s a salesman and he wants to sell something. He’s not knocking on doors to give away anything for free. He’s the one who’s being rude knocking on doors at dinner time.”
“Well, shouldn’t you at least hear what he had to say?”
“I don’t want to waste his time and I don’t want to waste my time.”

I guess I was confused but years later after answering many knocks at my door and hearing people say, “Let me show you this, it’s free” and patiently listening to what they had to say and only after hearing a long-winded sales-job, saying, “No thank you” and wasting my time and wasting the salesperson’s time, I realized that my mom knew a whole lot more than I knew about answering doors and wasting time.
I remember a guy knocking on my front door in Chico and saying he wanted to do a “free carpet renovation” and me saying, “Okay.”
The guy came in the house and spent 45 minutes vacuuming and cleaning the carpet and then saying I could buy the Hoover Renovation Machine for only $1200.00 and me suddenly remembering what my mom said years ago and having a hard time getting the guy out of the house with his big heavy, expensive Hoover Renovation Machine.
I’m wondering if the word “free” has become obsolete. I mean why do people still use the word if nothing’s free anymore?

I’ve given things away free. Some good things too. I’ve given away records and guitars and bicycles and motorcycles and even some cars. Yes, I’ve given away several cars and some good ones too. I use to basically collect cars. I had so many cars in front of my house that my neighbors wouldn’t talk to me. At least I think that’s why they wouldn’t talk to me.

Right across the street from me was a poor family with two kids who used to like to play in the tall, overgrown grass in my front yard. I didn’t mind. Matter of fact, I kind of liked to see them having a good time playing in what they called “the corn field” because the grass, or maybe it was the weeds, was so tall that they could lie down and basically hide in it.

I also collected bicycles and I had a few of them in yard because my kids had more bikes than they could use.

One day one of the children from across the street asked if she could ride one of the bikes. “Sure, go ahead,” I said. She came by the next day and asked to ride it again. “Sure. Take it. Matter of fact, keep it. I don’t need it.”

The next day the girl’s father came over while I was actually trying to cut the lawn with my push mower and he angrily yelled at me, “Who do you think you are giving my kid a bike?”
“I don’t need it and she wanted it.”
“I don’t need it either,” he yelled and he threw the bike down in my front yard.

I don’t know if it was a coincidence or not but a few days later the girl’s father left his car running in his front yard and it somehow or other slipped into gear, crossed the street and it ran right into my bedroom knocking a hole in the wall only a couple of feet from my bed.

A few days later my kids wanted to have a yard sale and they put the bike on the freshly cut lawn with a sign that read $8.00.

The little girl from across the street came by and said she wished she had 8 dollars. I wanted to tell her to take the bike for free but who knows what her father might do next? The bike was one of the first things that someone else bought.

I lived across the street from the family for a few more years and I never saw the kids ride a bike again.

I guess the father would rather his kids did without having something they wanted than have someone else give it to them for free.

About Sr Felipe

I grew up in East LA, was drafted into the army and sent to Vietnam as a medic with the 1st Cav from 1966-1967. I survived that, came back to LA, went to East LA College and Cal State LA, became a social worker in Ventura, CA and moved up to Chico, CA in 1975. I started Sr Felipe's Salsas making organic salsa, enchilada, BBQ and pasta sauce that was available in natural food stores nationwide from 1980-2005. I've been doing a radio show on KZFR, Chico, 90.1 FM every Tuesday from 7:30-10:00 PM streamed live on where I play oldies from the 50s & 60s, doo-wop, Latin, folk, country and Gospel music and interview interesting people in the community. For the past three years I've been teaching beginning guitar through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute through Chico State University.
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2 Responses to Closing the Door on Something Free

  1. Sam Crabtree says:

    Phil – I’ve been awed by the accomplishments of your brother Bob. Until I read thie above story I hadn’t realized that you also had the same skill with words, maybe better, and the same wonderful heart. It sounds like you’re as great a person as he is. How about the other Elkins brothers?

    • Sr Felipe says:

      Thank you, Sam, I appreciate that and it’s good to hear from you. I think Paul likes to write but it’s hard to get Richard to take the time to write but he’s a lot like the rest of us in most ways. I hope you’re doing well and hope to see you again sometime soon,

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