Any misspelled words or grammatical errors on this site are provided only for effect. Views expressed here are strictly those of the author, as opposed to being from his pet iguana. We reserve the right to add new letters to the alphabet or alter the time-space continuum as we see fit. Your presence at this site is a complicit agreement to these conditions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't Knock it Till You've Rung the Bell

(Disclaimer: I'm not responsible for the content of this blog post. Some guy in New Jersey has graciously taken it upon himself to assume all liabilities and serve prison time for me. In exchange, I housesit his cat every other weekend.)

Digging deep into the recesses of sociological intrigue, a strong argument is made that etiquette is no more than common sense that sometimes gets out of hand. After cutting the cord, we find that we can figure out etiquette on our own. Plus, it's generally advisable not to trust any systems which end in -ette anyway. Wiser people learned that nugget a handful of centuries ago. -ette, coming from the latin root of "to adorn; fabricate," spells trouble for most any word it accentuates.

That is all to say in a most roundabout way that prescribed handbooks written by people named Manners won't add insight to inquiries such as this, and might even bring with them a level bias tinged with excessive sophistication, rendering the effects too great to be meaningful. So, like a good feline knows, it's just better to start from scratch and use the noggin you were entrusted with.

What has piqued my curiosity in this case is the optimal number of knocks at someone's doorstep. Dylan penned his own personal take, and gave it the knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door, although that may have simply been out of convenience for meter and verse. He was known to be a stickler about that too. Some people, what are you going to do with them?

The scholar will take note that Dylan also asked the perennial question of how many times, and like any good poet, he concluded that the answer was blowin' in the wind, so we'll have to look a little harder to uncover something more concise.

At the outset, it's apropos to mention that if you're one of those select people who bangs loudly on a door seven or eight times, you've really got to seek help. You're not the brute squad. It's not necessary to cave in my walls to get me to come to the door. Memo: We hear you. The people down the street hear you. Saskatchewan hears you. Not to mention you woke up all my termites. Ease up a little, eh?

The purpose of the knock is to alert the inhabitants of a home that someone is at the door and wishes to come in. It is not, however, to scare the inhabitants clean out of their scivvies. Highly audible and rapid knocks are rather intimidating to dwellers who otherwise feel safe within the confines of their home. When you go and play the bongos with their front door, you're encroaching on their space, and so any intrusion should be done more respectfully and discreetly.

Naturally, soft taps will not get the job done. And one or two knocks would be too easily confused with other sounds. You can't believe in knock-knock jokes to provide the answers either. Those jokes are so unrealistic to begin with. I'm skeptical that they truly tested the two-knock procedure, and it hasn't been peer reviewed.

Instead, it's the successive distinctive sounds that will announce your arrival. We can find a balance. Too many an eager salesperson ruins the sale before the door is ever opened because their adrenaline taken out on your knobholder makes it sound like there's about to be a drug bust. Anything with more than five knocks should be followed by "You're under arrest."

I think we can narrow it down further and reach an ideal amount of knocks. The question is thus: at what point does the human psyche cross over from "Oh, there's someone here" to "Who's that maniacal banshee on my porch?" I would suggest that even five raps on the door is excessive. That fifth knock sounds too much like you're playing Chicago's 25 Or 6 To 4, at which point it becomes so derivative. A knock that isn't original isn't really a knock.

Perhaps we need to consult the Book of Armaments for further enlightenment...

Armaments, Chapter 2, verses 9 to 21...
‘First shalt thou approach the Holy Door. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then waitest thou for thy host to respond.’

So it almost sounds like Armaments is alluding to something somewhere in the realm of three, if I'm not mistaken. It may require a more detailed interpretation before we fully uncover it though. But that would be simple yet effective. A truly minimalist approach. No need to expend more energy than a triad of taps.

I understand there will be many progressives out there who will insist that anything less than four knocks would be insufficient. I'm not here to argue with these people. They have their own radical worldview, and we'll just have to disagree to agree on this matter.

The best salespeople have always realized that a three-knock method causes curiosity in the listener, and then they want to know what comes next. But with four or more knocks, they've already heard everything they need to hear. This lesson has been continually taught in the school of hard knocks, but we find that not everyone learns it.

Even more sadly, many people have taken the big bad wolf story way too seriously, feeling compelled to act out childhood fairy tales. If they would only remember that knocking louder and longer doesn't increase the chances you'll be invited inside. The point of diminishing returns seems to be at about the sixth repetitious knock. And highly audible knocks can make people more fearful of answering the door. Peak performance is a three-pronged approach, though. Four puts an unneeded exclamation on it, and five will get the RIAA lawyers after you for infringement.

The prudent will play it safe and stick to the basics. We complicate so many things in life, and this is just one more indication of that phenomenon. Resist door rage, and go for the trifecta. You'll notice a change in your demeanor, and the people you visit will appreciate you more for it. Be three dimensional for once. You may find it suits you.

No comments:

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

Philosophy Soccer