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.
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.