I started my schnorring career at the ripe old age of six.

Perky in my sharply pressed uniform and new spring shoes, I planned my route and practiced my sales pitch. “My school is selling plants, lekavod Shavuos. Do you want to buy one?”

What I lacked in height, I made up for in confidence and drive. Confidence, because I couldn’t think of one reason why I shouldn’t succeed. And drive, because this was a school contest — the class that made the most sales would be awarded a trip. There was no way we wouldn’t win.

Business savvy dictated that I focus on the fancy houses. Fancy houses meant rich people, and rich people would surely buy plants, probably the most expensive plants on offer, because they had so much money. I started on the prettiest block in the neighborhood, filled with huge brick structures with stunning landscaping.

That’s when I learned my first lesson in the schnorring business: Rich people are never home.

Door after door, I rang the bell, waited, rang again, waited some more. After a few houses, I became smarter and started skipping the houses that had no cars parked in the driveways.

And then I spotted a gleaming black car pull into the driveway of the most beautiful house I’d ever seen. My heart started racing. A sale! I waited patiently as a couple got out of the car and entered the house. I waited another two minutes, because to my six-year-old social instincts that felt like the right thing to do. Finally I bounced up the steps and gleefully chimed the doorbell.

No answer.

I rang again. And again. And again.

Four times, I rang. This didn’t make any sense. Had I been dreaming? No, the black car was still there, and I couldn’t have imagined seeing those people enter the house.

I rang again.

At last, the intercom crackled to life. I grinned broadly, clearing my throat and preparing to make my pitch. The static cleared, and then I heard, “If I didn’t answer after four rings, you think I’ll answer after five?”

My world caved in. I couldn’t believe it. How did they know who was at the door? And what I was there for? How could they be so cruel?

I ran down the stairs, blinking back tears. I ran away from that house, from that block with the fancy-shmancy houses. I wanted to run home and quit my job right there.

But six-year-olds don’t quit so fast, especially not with the prospect of winning a school contest. With subdued enthusiasm, I continued ringing doorbells, this time avoiding the mansions. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 575)