It's easy to think that life is hard, that that stiff wind in your face is stopping you getting anywhere. That the cards are not stacked in your favour, that maybe you're the wrong side of the middle. Of course we all know there are people who are in a worse position. For whom life is tougher still. You only have to turn on a television, or walk down a street in London at night, to see people truly struggling to get by, taking it one day at a time. But the sad thing is you get used to that. The stories become familiar. Repetitive. Boring even.
Tonight a man called Clive shook me out of that boredom. He rang my doorbell at 7.35pm and then apologised for doing so. After showing me some identification he explained that he'd been released from prison a week ago after serving 6 years. That he'd spent the day calling door-to-door selling cloths, dusters, and other cleaning products. He said he knew I probably didn't want anything he was selling. That he was very sorry to bother me. But that it had been a hard day, with just one sale.
Then he explained that he had wanted to stop banging on doors about an hour earlier, throw everything in the bin, and go home. But that he couldn't, because this was his last chance to make a life for himself. And that no matter how hard it was, no matter how many people slammed the door in his face, he was determined not to give up. All he was asking from me was one minute of my time. One minute to show me what he had. One minute to convince me I really did need a leather window cleaner. One minute to perhaps persuade me that it was worth investing in Clive.
We chatted for a while. He shared some of the bad decisions he'd made in life. Where things had gone wrong, and how he was focused on not repeating those mistakes again. I bought some stuff I didn't need (he was a good salesman). Then he told me he had to get on, that he wanted to get around as many doors as possible before it got too late.
I'm glad he didn't give up knocking on doors. That he knocked on mine. I think I may have needed that minute of his time more than he needed that minute of mine.