One Saturday last month, Sharon Storlie answered a knock at her apartment door. It was a young salesman, about thirteen years old, hawking the Boulder Daily Camera.
No, thanks, Storlie told him. But that wasn't enough.
"Are you sure you don't want to buy the paper?" he whined.
"Because I just don't want to buy the Daily Camera," Storlie said, and she closed the door.
Five minutes later there was another knock. This time, Storlie's five-year-old daughter answered because her mother was on the telephone.
It was another kid. Bigger and older, maybe fifteen or sixteen. Storlie, who came up behind her daughter, couldn't see his eyes because he was wearing sunglasses.
Storlie says he held up a newspaper and announced, "I have one Daily Camera left and you have been chosen to buy it."
"No, thanks," Storlie told him, and started to close the door.
"But you've been chosen," he said. "I can't go back with one paper left."
"No," Storlie said again.
But this Willy Loman from hell wasn't taking no for an answer. "I'll be back later with a gun and shoot you and your family," Storlie claims he told her.
Storlie slammed the door and called the police.
A half hour later, she was called by a police dispatcher who said an officer had three kids in custody a block from her apartment. If she wanted to press charges, the dispatcher said, Storlie would have to go identify the perpetrator.
Leaving her child with a neighbor, Storlie walked down to where the officer stood with three young newspaper salesmen and their adult supervisor, James Perry. Storlie says she recognized her antagonist. "He seemed cold and sarcastic, with an 'I dare you' look," she says.
Storlie identified the youth. The kid, who was from Broomfield, was already in a court-ordered diversion program because of a complaint filed against him by a girlfriend; he was supposed to keep clean for a year or face further punishment, the officer told her. Did she still want to press charges? Yes, Storlie told him.
"I said this was not okay," says Storlie. "I had a five-year-old with me who was now scared out of her skin."
Supervisor Perry was apologetic, Storlie says, but only to a point. "He said this kid came out of the apartment complex and said I was really rude," Storlie recalls. "I said, 'Well, I'm not running around threatening to shoot people and their families.' He assured me that the kid wouldn't be back selling the Daily Camera. But I was like, 'But he can come back to Boulder, and he knows where I live.'"
The Boulder police confirm that the carrier was charged with harassment. When contacted for comment, Perry demanded to know why Westword was looking into the story. When asked if he would discuss the incident, he replied, "I have to talk to my supervisor," and hung up.
Storlie says she's received nothing in the way of an apology from the newspaper's managers.
In the meantime, she's learned to laugh, although somewhat nervously, about what happened. "People get shot these days," she says, "for a lot less than refusing to buy the Daily Camera.