Why Don’t You Pop In?

Are pop-ins a thing of the past? I recently had a discussion about the lost art of ‘popping-in’ with a group of mixed-generation fellas who had varying opinions on the subject. The slightly more aged of us thought it was still completely acceptable, should be done with much more regularity, and swore it still goes on daily in the Annex. The youngest in the group knitted his brows together in a look of confused terror, as if we were discussing whether or not you should park your car in someone’s living room. I listened with a smile because, a) I knew this topic would make for an interesting column, and b) I remember fondly the days of popping-in. But now?Would I appreciate a pop-in? Depends. Which truly defeats the whole point of the pop-in. It can’t be when you’re ready. When you’ve finished the dishes, had a shower, your show is over and you happen to be walking past the front door. That’s not how pop-ins work.

If you can’t relate to this crazy notion, you’re probably a decade younger than me, or you grew up in a city. Pop-ins were all the rage back when we used phrases like, “I need to use the phone” and “while you’re up can you change the channel?” Back then, it was a perfectly acceptable practice to stop by other people’s homes unannounced. Randomly. No call, no discussion, no pre-approved time that will probably end up getting cancelled. You’d be going about your normal business, cloaked in the privacy of your own four walls and possibly not much else, then out of the almighty blue you’d hear a ‘bam, bam, bam’ and, if it was a really brazen popper-inner, the banging would be followed by the creak of hinges. “Helllooo-ooo, anybody home?” Believe it. It happened. And here’s the crazy thing. It wouldn’t even throw you for a loop. 

You’d just drop whatever you were doing, grab some appropriate clothing, walk to the door, (I feel like we were standing more back then), and greet the person or people who were already removing their footwear. Oh yeah, they were coming in. If you were cooking something? They’d wait until it was ready, then eat it. If you were wet from the shower? You’d better get dry. Because not only were they there to chat, but they expected refreshments. It was part of the unspoken rules of the pop-in. And magically, people had snacks at the ready! Cookies. Cake. Squares. Just waiting in the fridge. “Get the cake!” And you’d put on the coffee or tea and sit for an hour and chat.

So let’s put this in the context of today. What’s your reaction when you hear someone knocking on your door? I have to admit, I’m not proud of mine. Shock. Alarm. “Who could that be?” I get up from my desk, ducking slightly as I creep toward the window embedded in the door, a notably bad feature when dealing with unexpected knockers. Is someone injured and need help? A lost dog? My kids scramble to hidden corners, then wander out after the commotion is over with that same crinkled-forehead expression my young friend was wearing. Who was that?

So, popping-in. Bring it back, or good riddance? For me - even if I have to force myself from time to time - I love connecting with people. Old school, face to face. So I guess I’m on the fence. And maybe one day I’ll be leaning on yours, calling out, “Helllooo-ooo, anybody home?”