Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Out of Area

Why in the name of all that is holy would you call me at dinnertime with the computerized message, "thank you for your patience, we'll be with you momentarily?" YOU called ME! It's probably because I owe you money or something. Do you honestly think that I am going to WAIT to talk to you?

When the national "Do Not Call" list came out a while back, I was one of the first in line. You see it all started several years ago around this time of year. I was full of the holiday spirit when one of those "professional fundraising companies" called me to beg for donations to my local fire department's "annual" fundraising drive. It was right after 9/11 and so I figured it was a good cause. I sent them $20 and in exchange they sent me tickets to some performer I had never heard of for some concert that I'm not sure even took place. No matter, I hadn't intended on going and that's not why I donated the money in the first place.

I had opened Pandora's box. The next to call, within a week, was the fundraiser for the police department. I donated to them, too. Little did I know that I would now be marked for life. The phone number of "Catt the Sucker" appeared on every telemarketer's call list in the capitalist world. Oh they started out subtly enough. The calls only came two or three times a week at first. Then they got more frequent. It wasn't just for charities either. I had offers for new windows and siding. I "won" contests, if I would just stay on the line to talk to the next representative. I could refinance my mortgage just by pressing "1" on my touchtone phone.

About six months after it all started, I received another call from the "fire department" thanking me for my help in the past and asking me to participate in their "annual" drive again. One quick look in my checkbook, and I realized that MY definition of annual and the fundraising company's was not exactly the same. The police fundraisers called me again that same day. It got insane after that. The calls started coming daily, sometimes twice a day or more.

I began to do a little research. It seems that these fundraising companies are for profit. They're outsourced "hired guns." You may donate X number of dollars to the group you think you are supporting, but in reality the majority of your donation goes to the fundraising company. Your charity of choice gets short changed. I also learned that a simple "I cannot help at this time, goodbye" or "I am not interested" only got me put back on the list for more calls. Hang up on them and they'd call back with a vengeance. It got to the point that I stopped answering my phone when I saw "out of area" on my caller ID.

The national "Do Not Call" list was my savior. The calls actually stopped. We were able to make it all the way through dinner without the clanging of the phone. It was almost peaceful.

Of course, that peace was short-lived. You see, political calls are exempt from "do not call" rules. In case you were living in a cave this past year, we had a national election. I am normally a tolerant person. I did not, however, require several calls a week to remind me to vote or to tell me who to vote for. It is now December. You'd think that the calls would have stopped by now. You would be wrong. The election may be over for you, but it is not for me. We have a special election on Dec. 14th to fill an empty General Assembly seat. The intrusive calls have increased. I have counted seven (yes SEVEN) this week alone supporting one candidate in particular, and it is only Wednesday morning. When they called AGAIN last night to ask if "Susie Candidate could count on my support," I forcefully said "NO!" and hung up the phone. I wouldn't vote for her now if she offered to cut my grass every week for a year.

And to the computer who so graciously called me during dinner last night: The check's in the mail.


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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