Thursday, October 16, 2008

Be Sand, Not Oil

When you get that recorded phone call about a "warranty" on your car, do you just hang up on them?

Have you considered "sweating" them a bit? Hold the line, if you have a minute. Get a live person on the line and hold them accountable. You don't have to roll your eyes and tolerate this stuff. Stress them out. Ask them questions, ask for their supervisor.

In the words of Gunther Eich, "Be sand, not oil, in the machinery of the world."

Call them up and tell them you don't want to be on their mailing lists. You might feel good, like you just voted. In a way, you have. Speak up. Don't roll over while your phone rings off the hook and your mailbox gets stuffed full of lies, sent by people counting on you being either passive and/or an idiot.

Today I came home and the telephone was winking at me that we had messages. What I got was a recorded phone message from the McCain campaign in Washington, D.C. Here's most of the script: "You need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country."

Barack Obama is no prince, but this message is steaming-fresh cowflop. The only way he resembles an "extreme leftist" is if you put him next to Mussolini, and even that would be an illusion. These sneaky, cowardly little messages aren't held up to the same scrutiny as television buys (and I suppose they're cheaper). It's a cowardly move, spamming people with recordings, ramming the lies into our ears and our answering machines. It's like that obnoxious roommate you once had who only ever communicates with naggy little notes everywhere in the house.

They were, however, kind enough to leave the number of their campaign office in D.C. So I called them, just to see if anyone in the office had the guts to speak directly with a voter. I punched the appropriate number on the automated menu and waited for someone to pick up. And waited. And waited. No one picked up.

Admittedly, the campaign is low on funds. Life is like that when your campaign is clearly bereft of a vision, when it is as mean-spirited and raving as a madman in the park scolding pigeons. (This blog comes dangerously close to that at times, yes, I know.) So I got on the McCain campaign's website and sent them an email message, with my phone number, inviting them to call me after 4:00 PM on a weekday if they have the courage to talk to a voter live about their allegations.

If you want to start a betting pool on whether they'll call me back, you had better seek help immediately.

Here is another fun activity for the next time you get a call from a pollster.

Ask them who they work for. Insist on an answer.

Ask them if you'll be paid for your responses.

When they so no, remind them that they work for a company that is in business selling information. "Do you really expect me to give you something for free that you're going to sell to the news media?"

They might just hang up on you - but you have given them a taste of their own medicine. You have used up some of their time.

I'm also a big fan of this line, for pollsters and telemarketers: "I'm a little busy right now. Would you like to give me your home number so I can call you this evening and discuss it with you?"

Don't roll over. Be sand, not oil. And tell 'em Al said hi.


Debby said...

My friend Dixie keeps a list right by the phone. When they ask her how she's doing, they are SO screwed. She begins to list ailments. After a few moments, they try to interrupt, but she talks right over the top of them. By the time that she gets to the 'female' ailments, she's getting herself hung up on. For the record, Dixie is healthy as a horse, but she if she hears a 'restless leg syndrome commercial' it goes on her list. etc. I'm sure she's added breast cancer at this point. She's irrepresible.

Algernon said...

Dixie gets my citizenship award for the week!

Andrew said...

I received a similar call here in Cali. Not for a candidate (we always go blue) but for the proposition to strip people of their right to marry. I think the next major piece of campaign reform should be to look at these type of calls. It's amazing what these people will say and obviously, not all of it is true.

Lying to the public should never be allowed.

Algernon said...

Ban lying?? You are a dangerous radical!