Friday, January 25, 2013

Tolerating Telemarketers

Why I Tolerate Those Annoying Telemarketing Calls

Carolyn J. Rose

Almost every evening the phone rings and the screen display indicates a number I don’t recognize. Many of my friends let calls like that go to voice mail, but I'm from an age when the phone didn't ring often, and a call might mean a shift in the status quo—bad news about an ailing family member or, on the other end of the spectrum, an invitation to a movie or a party. It’s hard to buck that history, so I pick up the receiver and utter a tentative “Hello.”

Often there’s a pause. Sometimes, I hear an electronic whisper like wind on the prairie. Then there might be a few distant clicks and finally a voice, frequently mumbling and sometimes obscured by a heavy accent.

If that voice refers to me as Mrs. Rose or Mrs. Nettleton, I know for sure this is a stranger. I use Ms. And I didn’t take my husband’s name. Friends and relatives know that.

So now I have several choices: hang up, ask the person to correct their records, listen to their spiel, or jerk their chains.

I take choice #4.

“Mrs. Rose was my mother,” I say. Or, “Mrs. Nettleton was my mother-in-law.” Then I bring out the big gun. I use the word “dead.”

This results in another long pause, sometimes followed by: “Who is this?” My reply is, “Who is this?” or “Why do you want to know?”

This usually leads to another long pause while the person at the other end searches their script for a response. Sometimes I get a rushed explanation or a mumbled apology. Often my statement is enough to make them hang up.

If I’ve driven them to disconnect, I feel a spurt of gleeful joy. That’s often followed by a wave of guilt.

The person on the other end of that call was trying to do a job—maybe a job needed to feed a family. The call to my number might have been critical to whether a quota was made and a paycheck delivered. Whether someone got a meal or got evicted.

I feel grateful that I was on the receiving end and not the one in a boiler room with hundreds of calls to be made and a strict schedule to keep.

And I’m grateful that I’m able to realize I have choices when the phone rings, that I have some wits about me and am not likely—at least not yet—to be sucked into a financial commitment or a scam.

As long as I’m able to mess with their minds, they’re less likely to be able to mess with mine.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How Dogs View Vacations


By Bubba and Max. 


Max: (nudging Bubba awake) Hey, I found out what it was that we did with Mom and Dad in the car.

Bubba: (opening one eye) What?

Max: We took a vay . . . a vake . . . an evacuation.

Bubba: No, that’s what you do out in the garden.

Max: Oh, right. I remember now. Mom called it a vacation. Is that what it was?

Bubba: Nope, vacations are supposed to be fun. This was just a long ride. I mean, a loonnnggg honkin’ ride.

Max: Well, it kinda was, but it was fun, right?

Bubba: Fun? We had to take little pink pills every morning. And I got real sleepy and got in my bed in the back seat but you had to be special and ride on Mom’s lap almost the whole way.

Max: (hanging his head) The pill made me needy.

Bubba: (sputters) You started at needy. The pill made you pathetic.

Max: I can’t help it. I’m a purebred dog. I have papers.

Bubba: So do I. Out back of the hot tub. I squat on them to pee.

Max: Well, when we were on vacation in Los Angeles, I peed on a palm tree. And a prickly cactus. Did you see that?

Bubba: (yawning) I saw it.

Max: And that hedge. It was long. Really long.

Bubba: Six whole feet.

Max: And I got the whole thing at once. Hop, pee, hop, hop, pee. Did you see how I held my leg up the whole time?

Bubba: Truly awesome. Except for the fact that your tank was empty.

Max: Was not.

Bubba: Was so.

Max: Temporary condition. Did you see me squirt that agave? And that huge pile of snow at Mt. Shasta?

Bubba: Nope. Missed that. (Turning to get more comfortable on the sofa) So, a vacation is all about squirting on new things?

Max: Um . . . I guess.

Bubba: Then next time I’ll stay home.

Max: And miss the exciting stuff? Like when you had to pee at 1:00 AM and the door lock stopped working at the motel in Williams, California, and the manager had to break the window and we had to move to another room.

Bubba: I lost an hour of sleep.

Max: And miss the part where I tried to jump up on the bed but slipped on the floor and missed?

Bubba: Okay, that was pretty funny.

Max: And the part where I got a new harness—black and silver—way cooler than my old one.

Bubba: It’s all about you, isn’t it?

Max: And the part where we almost went to the Walk of Fame?

Bubba: But Mom was afraid you’d poop on a star.

Max: Never happen. I have pinpoint accuracy.

Bubba: Not.

Max: I wonder if we’ll go back next year.

Bubba: How long is a year?

Max: Two times February?

Bubba: You sure it’s not four times squirrel?

Max: Four squirrels? Where?