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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When the Little Green Creatures Come

This time they came at the doorbell and it was gentle. In the past, they had skipped the bell in favor of the door, beaten on twice, a bit like a SWAT team. They were busy hanging from the outside storm, loose on its rusted hinge, so I decided to open.
             They were a couple, man and woman, she bundled against the winter, he in a sort of miner’s cap, but with muffs. We were cracked open, lest Kate the cat escape.
             “We’re from OntarioGreenhome!” the man sang; I stared. The woman gulped. Yes? I replied.
             “Can we see your water heater?” he pursued.  No, I said; Why?
             “To inspect it,” he growled, pressing his nose dangerously into proximity. I said, Why?
              “GreenEnergyStar!” they howled. I think I must have winced and turned, since the man shifted and pushed a sheaf of papers at me. “It’s brand-new, doesn’t need inspection,” I muttered, pulling the door, but for the man, this was a cue: he moved a corner of his papers into the door-jamb: “OntarioGreenhome!” he hissed. “You don’t have the Star!” There was a tiny decal with a tinier logo on his package; it was green but beyond that, indecipherable. “What are you selling?” I asked. The couple stared.  “New, not buying in the near future,” I repeated, “also, rented, belongs to the Utilities.”
             "No," shouted the man, "just because it’s new doesn’t mean it has the Star!"
             I was now on the door like a diabetic needing his cookie. Whoa! shouted the man. Wham went the door.

Prior to that, it was the couple I came to call The GreenPlanners. Both men, one was middle-aged, the other, a callow youth.  Together they went like Mormons, pacing the icy walks, thumping doorposts, waving their arms. They too were laden with books, chief among them a sort of register resembling the Domesday.
             They never rang any bell, but bounded onto the porch and walloped whatever surface would boom. As I finally went tottering out, they were restless.
             “Are you on the GreenPlan??” they crooned. I looked. Quickly, I moved back, making haste to close the door. No, said I, I’m fine.
             “Oh, said the fatter of the two,”you need to sign up!” He was waving a pack of papers. “I already have energy,” I replied, “I don’t need any more.”
             But are you on the Plan, they chorused, like a TV jingle, one  of them in falsetto.
             “But what are you selling?” said I; “Oh,” said the fatter, “no big clauses or locked-in contracts.” "You’re an energy company, right?" “The Plan,” they howled, “Are you saying you are not on the GreenPlan!!”

Weeks later, about an hour before the OntarioGreenhome invasion, our GreenPlanners had hobbled back and done a second attempt, and it was even tipsier than the first. Possibly, this poisoned Greenhome’s chances. And now  in my mind’s eye, I see four unhappy figures, cold, unprepared, resentful, wondering why the world hates them so much on such a modest street as mine.

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