Like all of you, I found myself being
inundated with solicitations over the phone. It got so bad that I
started to become a rude, nasty SOB whenever one of those
telemarketers rang my phone. Actually I have always been a rude
nasty SOB. Telemarketers just helped me hone my skills.
Over the years I had my fun with these
usurpers of privacy when I was in the mood. To the callers trying to
give me a free trip to Branson, Mo., I would state that I hated
anything to do with hillbillies, and I'd get a quick hang-up. When
the sellers of packages to the Wisconsin Dells called, I would flip
my loyalties and retort how anything that wasn't Southern wasn't
The real pain in the phone lines for my
household was the people who continually called and said we had won
a trip to Disney World. The fine print, never available over the
phone line of course, was that food, beds, running water and
transportation were not included. I received over a dozen of these
messages on my answering machine, giving me a special offer number
that I needed to write down before I called to get my super-duper
Finally on a Saturday night, one of
these yahoos called and got the real thing, not my wife's pleasant
"leave us a message" recording. I was really miffed at being called
so late and found my nastier nature taking over. After the young
lady told me she was mystified why I hadn't called back, I turned
the tables on her. I asked her if, in the event I went to
Disneyland, "Would I be able to wear one of the Disney character
costumes?" After a brief "I beg your pardon" by this poor girl, I
went on a roll. I explained to her that I always wanted to parade
around as a Disney character and asked if I could be Goofy for a
day. I explained that was my wife's nickname for me, so that's the
costume I really wanted to wear.
It took about 10 seconds of silence
before the click on the other end told me I had been disconnected.
Imagine, I was hung up on by a telemarketer rather than the other
The very next day, a Sunday no less, I
received a call from someone stating they were doing a poll for the
University of Illinois. In less of a good mood than the day before,
I told the person that I thought they were idiots for bothering
people on a Sunday and advised this young lady to either put that
information in the poll or place it somewhere that would prove
itself uncomfortable when a person decides to sit down. I regained
my edge and hung up on this marketer.
[to top of second
column in this commentary]
That Monday, in late October 2003, I
visited the e-mail site of the national Do Not Call registry. It
wasn't hard to remember. It's
www.donotcall.gov. I placed my home number in the system and
waited for nothing at all to happen.
Amazingly something did.
Within two weeks my phone messages were
only from friends and customers. Calls late at night were from just
my son, who has no idea that old people go to bed early. In five
months I have received only three calls that I didn't care to
receive. One was a recorded message from President Bush telling me
he personally wanted to talk to me. I e-mailed Republican Committee
headquarters that the definition of a personal message meant I
talked personally to the president and that a message didn't count.
Politicians, of course, are exempt from the "do not call" program.
The other two calls were from
sycophants trying to instill civic-minded duty in my mind by urging
me to give money to a policemen's fund. I told the first individual
who called that I would not give a donation that directed only 25
percent or less of my money to the cause they were soliciting (prove
me wrong if you think you can). The man tried to get rude with me,
but that of course was a mistake. That call ended up being so much
fun it made my day.
The other time I received a call to
give to the state policeman's benevolent fund. I advised the man
that I was on the national "do not call" list. The man proudly
explained how they, as a charitable organization, were exempt from
such a list. I told the man that there was nothing charitable about
telemarketers fooling benevolent associations into using their name
to collect funds that lined the pockets of the telemarketers far
more than the organization whose name was being bandied about as the
charity. We traded a few excellent insults before ending the call.
It was close, but I believe I beat the marketer to the hang-up.
The stories are the truth. In five
months those are the only unsolicited calls I have received.
In the event
you still haven't placed yourselves on the "do not call" list,
please do. If you don't have a computer, go see a friend who has
one. I promise the program works for the most part. The only flaw
with the system is that on days when you feel like being a nasty
rude SOB, you will have to take it out on your wife, not a
telemarketer. We all know that doesn't work.