Recent Scenario: After tidying my home, starting a load of laundry and vigorously petting the cats, I sit--with the lunch I’ve prepared--by the window to soak up some sunlight and relax for a few minutes. Cat Numero Uno curls up across my knees. Numero Dos settles by my side while I balance my veggie burger on the arm of the sofa, placing my iced tea on the window sill. I note, with fleeting concern, that I’ve forgotten to locate the portable phone. Then the phone rings.
Since it could be one of the boys needing advice (Can I wear this shirt with these pants? How much do I tip at a buffet? What is the meaning of life?), I pull myself to my feet, dispersing the cats—one of whom knocks my veggie burger to the floor. The sound of shattering crockery alarms the other cat who leaps to the ceiling, up-ending the iced tea which then soaks my newspaper. I stagger to the phone, my lips already forming the pearls of wisdom I will dispense, but, upon lifting the receiver, hear only, “Hi, this is Linda McMahon….” Or, “This is—insert the name of one of a dozen candidates who’ve been bombarding my home recently with obnoxious recorded messages. Or it’s their wife, child, left ass-cheek, pet or transsexual lover who wants, in additional recorded messages, to tell me why their daddy, mommy, wife, husband, etc. is the perfect choice for the job. Unfortunately, there’s no one at the other end at whom to howl obscenities. So, I shriek them into the unresponsive receiver, impressing none but the cats (who’ve heard it all before) with my dazzling, yet disappointingly unmarketable, natural ability to string naughty words into extremely complex sentences.
Don’t these politicians see that this harassment isn’t an effective way to commandeer votes or rally a constituency? At least, not in my opinion, it isn’t. I’ve long treasured the privilege of voting but was so disgusted with these calls (plus the relentless negative ads on television combined with a scarcity of decent choices) that, this year, I considered getting a pedicure instead of casting a ballot.
Not to mention, I miss the old voting machines. I don’t trust the new ones. How could it not matter whether we insert our ballots face up or down? I think the new machines might actually be shredders. Right, Bridgeport?
I read that Linda McMahon’s campaign made 400,000 phone calls during the weeks preceding the election. I seriously think she made them all to my house. When I heard the staggering amount she spent (45 million American dollars) on her campaign, I had to lie down with a cool rag across my face and a bag of peanut M&Ms by my side. What colossal ego is capable of such self-promotion? But then I realize that colossal ego is what drives many politicians seeking high-profile positions. Certainly the desire to serve exists but it can’t outspend Linda.
The election is over but I’m still receiving calls. Now, mostly, from gutter installers, chimney cleaners and dozens of charities and organizations who think nothing of calling on a Sunday morning at 8:30 or a Friday evening after nine. I struggle to keep my head from exploding as I respond politely. After all, these are people trying to earn a living. If my hormone levels are in flux or I’ve been rudely awakened, I’ve been known to behave less cordially. Afterward, I worry that, with the click of a mouse, a caller seeking revenge and possessing computer skills could skew my credit rating or place me on the no-fly list, so I try to control my ire. It does seem, however, that since I signed up with the “Do Not Call” registry I’ve been receiving more calls instead of fewer. Perhaps, I accidentally added myself to the “Please—I beg you!!—Call Me” list in a moment of delirium.
So, if any telemarketers, candidates, or pollsters are listening, I don’t want to hear why you’re right for the job, change my cable company or donate money. I want my phone time reserved for chatting with family and friends, ordering pizza or directing the confused driver of the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol van to my door. Other than that, consider me unlisted.