Monday, October 14, 1996

AUC: Number of the beast

[Originally published in the Long Beach Union (student paper at Long Beach State), in my bi-weekly column called...]
Another Useless Column

My girlfriend is in Scotland until December, which means my long distance phone bill has skyrocketed.

That’s not the problem.

Until I got the hang of dialing overseas, I was reaching some form of “operator assistance.” And doing so, I got on a list. Then one evening, someone called me on behalf of my long distance company.

She was quick to point out that she wasn’t trying to sell me anything; she merely wanted to ask me a few questions. Checking my English-to-phone solicitor/surveyor-translator, I realized I’d be occupied a while.

Usually, I don’t have time for these people, say no thanks, and hang up. But she sounded like a nice enough person, so I figured “What the heck?”

She proceeded to have me rate my satisfaction with various aspects of the call I’d made (on a 10-point scale) and I started making up numbers. I even threw in an occasional “not applicable” to keep things interesting. Toward the end of the call, I had an opportunity to comment on how AT&T could improve my service. “Well,” I replied, “they could stop having people like you call me.”

There’s just something about someone calling me at home—whether to try to get me to buy something, tell me about a candidate or ask me questions—that irks me. Telemarketing, in its various forms, is pure evil, plain and simple. Therefore, the individuals making these calls are minions of the beast master, at least while they’re at work.

That’s not to say they’re bad people otherwise. I realize what great money is to be made in such a field. Of course, the child pornography market is rather lucrative, I understand. But you don’t see as many ads for those openings, more of a word-of-mouth kind of thing.

I expect that telemarketers get a fair amount of hang-ups, rude comments, and general unpleasantness directed toward them while going about their unholy duties. But here’s the thing: I’m sure they develop a tolerance for it. Perhaps they enjoy it, as some enjoy various other twisted forms of masochism.

So if you really want to fight the forces of darkness, don’t merely tell these souls to perform anatomically-challenging acts upon themselves, keep them on the line. Lull them into a false sense of security. Don’t buy anything, of course. Just waste their time. The longer they talk to you, the fewer others they’ll bother. It’s a small but important step toward ridding the world of this plague, a modest gesture in consideration of your fellow humans.

Right now, of course, a lot of energy is directed toward hounding us in our homes about the upcoming election. Now, is how we’re going to vote any of their damn business? Of course not.

So here’s the key to the success of this plan: lie. If you’re voting “yes,” say “no.” If you’re a Republican, say you’re voting Peace and Freedom. Be as inconsistent as possible in your answers. Once we can corrupt the information collected by these demons, it will be of no use to their masters. And what then?

Life will be… perfect. Well, once December rolls around.

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