The doorbell rings: face-to-face (not Facebook) spontaneity

You’re relaxing at home on a day off and the doorbell rings. You’re not expecting anyone, and there’s no delivery truck out front.

"Who is it?"

“Who is it?”

Do you peek out a window to see who it is? If you can’t make a positive ID, is your first instinct to hide, like an intruder in your own home, until the interloper goes away?

My doorbell rang the other day — New Year’s Day, actually, in the middle of a cold, snowy and very lazy Central New York afternoon. I hear that sound so infrequently, it’s startling when someone does ring it.

Curiosity, or perhaps old-school common decency, led me to open the front door without looking. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my running buddies (let’s call him “Ed”), who happened to be out for a run in my neighborhood and felt like stopping by.

Ed didn’t need to use the bathroom, didn’t need a drink of water. He simply was out for a joyous, glorious run to start off 2014 and wanted to say Happy New Year. I suppose I could have put on my running stuff and joined him, but it was indeed a lazy afternoon.

The more I thought about Ed’s visit, it brought me back to my childhood when we routinely showed up unannounced (OK, uninvited) at our friends’ houses. In those days, the sound of the doorbell or a knock usually meant a welcome request to play Wiffle ball, touch football or basketball, depending on the season.

Sometimes, I suppose, our parents made us call first to be polite but we didn’t much care about that. We just wanted our friends to come outside and play.

Now that we are jaded adults in a digital world, the sound of our doorbell is not so much a quaint anachronism as a warning of an unwelcome visitor — someone trying to sell us a product, get us to donate money or sign a petition. 

Our instinct, I think, is to be irritated at a possible intrusion into our day, our time, our space. (“Why didn’t whoever-it-is just message me or send me a text?”) 

It would be far healthier, I think, to give our texting, tweeting thumbs and Facebook fingers a rest and go ring some doorbells. If our friends inside don’t hide out of sight until we give up and go away, they might be pleasantly surprised. We might even talk them into coming out to play.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in communication, Irish Investigations, running and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The doorbell rings: face-to-face (not Facebook) spontaneity

  1. markbialczak says:

    Good job, Ed, for the plain-and-simple, howdy-do visit. Good job, Jim, for opening the door without looking. You are so right about what our world has become. It stretches to phone calls, even. Don’t answer that until you read who it is! In the old day, even the parents would show up at neighbors’ houses unannounced after dinner in the summer to hang out in the backyard. And I don’t think it was thought of as an intrusion. Thanks, Jim.


  2. Ed Griffin-Nolan says:

    Ring my bell, anytime, guys – “Ed”
    Actually I don’t think I have a bell. Just holler. Happy New Year…


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Dear “Ed” … you started the year off in style! (And I was so motivated by your visit — or was it guilt? — that I slogged through three miles in the snow the next day). Come by anytime … “Jim”


  3. Great way to start a year. And keep a friendship going.


  4. markbialczak says:

    Another nomination for my smart and funny friend, this one called The Lighthouse Award.


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