Sunday, July 27, 2014

Advice From A (Former) Telemarketer

JUST SAY NO! There’s no charity that you can’t donate to more directly and no product or service that you can’t buy elsewhere! I don’t do business with ANYONE who calls me on the phone, since there’s no way to prove who they are, unless I know them personally.

Don’t give ANYONE your credit card number, debit card number, bank account number, or social security number, even if they say they’re from your bank, your card company, or a government agency. Even though the companies that I worked for were “legitimate” in a legal sense, they sometimes had to fire people for trying to write down people’s credit card numbers to use later for their own purposes. TRUST NO-ONE!

EVERY firefighter and police “charity” that I’ve ever come across is a complete scam. First off, your local folks in uniform will never benefit from your donation. The money is solicited for large departments in large cities which are often affiliated with the mob. Pay-outs go only to people who are members of their organization. Most small town folks in uniform are NOT members of those groups. Fire chiefs and police chiefs that I have spoken to personally say that you have to apply for grants from those groups to get any money, and those grants are never “granted.” Most of the funds go to those who run the group, NOT grieving widows, injured firefighters and cops, or small departments needing funding. The ONLY way you can benefit your local department is to give the money locally.

Though most of those groups get millions of dollars from telemarketing companies, the highest percentage that I’ve heard of the organization getting was 12%. The rest was kept by the telemarketing company.  Most of that probably went to the owner of the company; they certainly don’t pay their help very much.

There IS one positive thing about telemarketing. It provides jobs (though very low paying ones) to people who might be living on the streets otherwise. So, in a sense, it IS a valid charity, just not in the sense that most folks would think. Still, telemarketing continues to exist due solely to the basic stupidity of the average person. Sorry if this steps on anyone’s toes. © 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Where Are they Now?


On graduation from high school, we all head out into the world to make our way, or lose it. Some are blessed by our parents with a college education. Some of us make use of that blessing, others don’t. Some work our way through college. They usually make the best use of their degree, for they know the blood, sweat and tears that earned it. Others, like me, foolishly think that hard work alone will let us build a life worth living. In this day and age, that works only for a rare few. Cunning and wise planning helps a lot, but those little pieces of paper (or sheepskins, if you will) mean a lot to the other folks with little pieces of paper who do the hiring. Intelligence and hard work are worth less these days than those little pieces of paper. I eventually got a couple of those little pieces of paper, but they were too little, too late, and the wrong kind.

For the first few years after graduation, many of us tend to be interested in how our former classmates are doing, partly to see how our lives stack up against theirs. However, as we age and start to look back on our youth with a bit of nostalgia, we wonder about their lives not only from curiosity, but also from a bit of concern and fondness for their memory.

Within five years of graduation, a few of my former classmates were already dead. One was a former star athlete turned dope-head who was cleaning his apartment floor with gasoline and forgot that it might not be a good time to light up a cigarette (or joint). Another blew his brains out when he found that he couldn’t come to grips with his own homosexuality. Yet another died in an oilfield explosion. Over the years, others have died from cancer (usually the seemingly healthy types), a few in car wrecks, one from a ruptured spleen and others from various and sundry diseases and medical conditions.

The other day, the neighbor’s roaring motorcycle brought a kid to mind that I’d been in school with back in the day. Rod was always on a motorcycle when he wasn’t in school. He had a few brushes with the law in the process. He raced motocross professionally after high school, even racing on some European tracks. Wondering whatever became of him, I searched his name online and discovered that he’d eventually become the president of the American branch of an Austrian motorcycle manufacturer. However, he’d died at age 50 “after a brief illness,” surrounded by his wife and children. I rarely saw him without a cigarette in his mouth back then, so I suspect I know what got him.

I searched for the names of girls that I once dated and found that one had married and divorced twice and then died young. Another became a doctor, had five kids by her doctor husband and lives down south. Her brother became a doctor, too. What others I could find led mundane lives like the rest of us. Of course, many of the “boys and girls” that I once had classes with, now old geezers and geezerettes like myself, live close enough that I still bump into them occasionally, or at least hear of them through the grape vine. I always enjoy seeing them, even the ones that I wasn’t particularly close to at the time. It’s funny how old age draws people together that youth did not.

I’ve read several times that the first few high school reunions tend to be about showing off and making comparisons. They say that changes about the 40th or 45th. My 40th reunion was last year. It was held at a neighbor’s farm. I’ve never attended one yet, but if I’m still here when the 45th comes around (IF it comes around) I may go. It might be nice to see some faces from the old days, though they’ll be OLD faces by now. © 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Screen Scenes

I guess they’re a sort of screen-saver system—the pictures on the monitors at work that change every few minutes. For quite a while, they were beautiful landscapes and Gothic architecture. I enjoyed them.

Apparently though, my cubicle became the home of a young person on day-shift. Suddenly, my eyes beheld neo-Gothic armored warriors, their weapons a mix of swords, maces and lasers, fighting demons and alien life forms (armed similarly) in a post apocalyptic landscape. Blood and gore was everywhere, including on the blade of the fascine-knife or bill-hook the apparent lone Amazon-like woman was carrying. Some of the weird creatures looked mostly machine-like, others like hybrids of humans and lizards.

On the other monitor, cartoon zombies fought what must have been Monsanto GMO plants of some kind. The weapons used by the unidentifiable plants were apparently a part of their physical make-up, while the zombies were armed with strange weaponry. I noticed that the artist couldn’t resist giving one zombie a case of plumber’s crack; why, I’m not sure.

If he’s like many of the people his age who work there, the kid probably has evil, possibly satanic tattoos, plus a few piercings. I suspect that he goes home to his rat-trap apartment after work and plays video games where blood spews and things explode. He’s probably broke the day after payday, between buying pot, beer and ever gorier video games. And just imagine, he probably votes. And we wonder why this country is in the mess it’s in!

The supervisor changed the pictures back to landscapes for me, but they didn’t stay that way long. I managed to put a couple stationary landscapes on the screens a couple days ago and they’re still there, so maybe he’s moved. If he changes them again, I may if I can sneak a picture of Jesus on there for him. THAT should stir something up! © 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Velly Intellesting!

I decided that I’d stop at a local auto parts place and get some oil and a filter for my truck. I used to change my own oil all the time on my old truck, so figured that I still could (unless I get stuck under the truck). I asked for what came originally in the truck and found out that it was synthetic, as I thought. The thing is, while the dealership has been charging what I considered a fair price for an oil change, I figured out that they hadn’t been using synthetic oil. No wonder the price was “fair!” Seven quarts of oil, a filter and a bottle of Slick 50® ran me $25 more than what I’d been paying for an oil change, even after a couple discounts. I also got a mail-in rebate for $10, though, so that will get it down to only $15 more than I’d been paying. So now I’m wondering, has the dealership been using the cheaper oil ever since I got the truck, or did they switch last year when they started paying for their bigger and better new showroom?

I’ll take a look tomorrow, and if it looks like I might get my big belly stuck between the frame and a hard place, I may just pay the garage that used to work on my old truck to do the job for me. © 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cast Your Bread Upon The Waters…

On the job that I had before, there was a guy just reaching early retirement age that I gravitated toward somewhat. It wasn’t because we had anything in common, but because he got so little respect from others, and I’ve always been sympathetic to life’s underdogs. He was a Vietnam veteran, plus a former druggie and a former sound man/roadie for a rock group. He was also a semi-alcoholic and a weekend drunk. Between his current life and his past one, he was missing more than a few brain cells. He was getting a little hard-of-hearing, plus was loud to begin with, having been trained for telemarketing during the old boiler-room days. He was also prone to a general bad attitude and temper tantrums. Due to that, no-one, including me, really wanted to sit by him while working the phones.

To make matters worse, he was often forced by his circumstances to live with room-mates who stole his food, and sometimes his money. I began to realize that he often came to work without having eaten breakfast. I was doing a little better in those days before hope and change had taken full effect, and sometimes stopped at a drive-through on my way to work to get my breakfast. So, I started getting an extra dollar sandwich and offering it to him. He gladly accepted and often came back a second time to thank me. He was fired not all that long before the place closed down.

A power outage earlier this week had caused me to spend a few extra dollars, so I had to count up the change in the truck, including 25 pennies, to get something at the dollar store near my workplace to snack on at work yesterday. While looking over my unhealthy options, a familiar voice started urging me to get a particular item. Turning, I came face-to-face with my old co-worker. He had something in his hand that he was going to by and offered to buy my choice for me, telling me that he hadn’t forgotten all those breakfast sandwiches from the old days. I thanked him for his offer, but told him to save his money, but I DID take his suggestion of junk-food, to make him feel good.

At the register, I still had my change in my hand as the clerk reached for my package. My former co-worker pushed his stuff forward and told the clerk that it was all together. What could I say without causing a scene, or making him feel bad? Even those at the bottom want the chance to be the giver once-in-a-while, instead of always being the receiver. I put the change back in my pocket and thanked him. I also told him that he was a good guy, but that I’d always known that. His eyes twinkled and he almost smiled. I thanked him again and walked off with my prize.

Outside, he caught up with me and shoved a 10-dollar bill in my hand. Try as I might, I could not convince him to keep it, unless I was willing to destroy his dignity. Once again, he told me how much he appreciated those sandwiches, and explained that he might never see me again, knew I wasn’t as flush as I once was, and just wanted to feel that he was helping a friend. Once again, I thanked him, plus told him that I hoped God would bless him for his kindness.

Today was payday, and though the $10 will come in handy, I don’t feel right about keeping money from someone that I know is having it rougher than I. Maybe I’ll pass it along somewhere. Still, I was truly touched by my former coworker’s sincere show of appreciation, and I think that he needed to be able to return a kindness to maintain his self image. I’m sure that we both felt the better for it, so it appears the Lord blessed us both yesterday. © 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Really Stupid Things That Some People Seem To Believe About Fundraisers

We all work for the same company. There’s really only two of us—one male and one female. Every call that has been made by those two people for that one company in the last 40 years should not only be on record, but should be instantly remembered by the person who made it. There is only one police “charity.” There is only one fireman’s charity.” Donations to those “charities” actually help the rank and file members of those professions. You should have to be a policeman to call for the police charity. You should have to be a fireman to call for the fireman’s charity. If you are NOT a policeman or fireman and call for their charity, you should do so for free, because you don’t have the right to earn a living like other people.

Back when I used to call live, and someone told me that they wouldn’t donate, because I wasn’t a cop or a fireman, I sometimes asked them (VERY politely) if they would prefer that the cops and firemen come in and man the phones, and us telemarketers put on guns to keep them safe and spray water on their houses if they caught fire. For some reason, they thought that was a really STUPID idea! © 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Pleasant Fourth Of July

I woke up half-an-hour ahead of the alarm yesterday, so got up and got my shower. My wife had already gotten hers. It was cool enough that we could leave the dog in the truck when we went inside McDonald’s to have a breakfast of gravy and biscuits. Our appetites sated and with a piece of sausage for The Mighty Dachshund, we returned to the truck and headed south.

We arrived at Cedar Lakes, in Ripley, West Virginia at nine o’clock, just as they opened the fair for the day. The fair is called the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, and this is its 51st year. My folks took my sister and me that first year in 1963, when our beautiful state celebrated its 100th birthday. The original purpose was largely to preserve and showcase old-time skills, but that has changed quite a bit over the years. I didn’t miss the fair for about 30 years, but then they got a little off-track, plus, there were a few miserably hot Fourths, plus a couple years of poverty, so my attendance the last 20 years has been somewhat sporadic.

My wife and I hadn’t been there for three years and we hadn’t been able to afford to do anything at all last year, so I suggested that we go this year, since I was working again. It was unusually pleasant, temperature-wise, with some clouds and a good breeze. The three of us walked and looked and rested and drank water, and then walked and looked some more. By noon, we old geezers and our short-legged little friend were about pooped, so we slipped out of the place just as the main crowd started rolling in bumper-to-bumper.

On arriving home, we all took a nap, then, the missus and I went to Cheddar’s and had a nice late lunch. Looking around us, we noticed that most other folks had ordered nearly all fried stuff. I’m not sure why you’d go to a slightly better restaurant and still order burgers and fries and onion rings and such, but that seemed to be the case. We had grilled fish and vegetables of our choice and it was all very good. Then we went home and took another nap. Later, I slipped outside and did a few odds and ends that needed done before I mowed the yard, then came back in and spent the rest of the evening watching TV with the little woman and giving the dog some floor time. It was a good day. © 2014

What Can I Say; She Loves Me.

I’ve always said that the only completely unconditional love we ever get is from Jesus and our dogs. Jesus proved His love by willingly dying on the cross for the sins of each of us. Many dogs have proven theirs by dying while trying to save their owner’s life. Thankfully, most don’t have to go to that extreme.

When we got The Mighty Dachshund as a pup five years ago, I was working days, so, while I was gone through the day, I always spent part of each evening on the floor with her. Fifteen months of unemployment got her used to me being available a large part of the day, as well. With my current job, though, I’m working afternoons.

My wife tells me that the pooch goes into a deep blue funk as soon as I leave, and won’t perk up for anything. Well, there IS one thing, it turns out. She soon noticed that it was my voice that her sharp little ears picked up on the far end of the line, when I called my wife on breaks. In no time, she began sitting up (begging) in front of my wife and whining whenever I’d call. Finally, my wife said, “Here, say something to the dog.” So, I told her what a good little dog she was, that I missed her and that she was my little sweetie-pie. When my wife came back on the phone, she said that the pooch was on the floor, happily rolling like a pup.

Since then, she expects for me to talk to her nearly every time that I call, EXCEPT for the last time I call each evening. At that time, I speak to my wife for just a moment from inside my truck, to let her know that I’m headed home. The Mighty Dachshund seems to know what that last call means, because she doesn’t beg to talk to me, she just starts rolling up a storm. On my arrival each night, she nearly drags my wife to the edge of the porch to see me. Then, my wife hands me the leash and I take the pooch out to answer nature’s call. After cleaning her up and going inside, she then fully expects (and usually gets) some much anticipated “floor time.” © 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Proverbial “New List” In Telemarketing

Nearly every day, at some point when sales are depressingly slow, we are blessed with a “brand new list,” handed down from the powers-that-be in the nether-world of telemarketing. The first time that I heard it on my new job, I remember thinking “here we go again!” You see, truly new lists are made up from currently used numbers, usually found by looking for new business listings, or purchased from the phone companies that SWEAR that they don’t sell their lists. You very rarely get an honest-to-goodness new list.

Now OLD lists that have been beat to death, where everyone has come to hate the charity or business that has harassed them for months, eventually have to be retired. Preferably before the people arm themselves and come looking for the telemarketers. So, they are stored somewhere in storage devices, or old computers, “put on the basement shelf” so to speak, for a number of years. During that time, since many of the former best donors were older folks, many of the people die. Some move; some change numbers, and some numbers are simply no longer in service for reasons unknown. Many of those numbers are eventually re-assigned to other people, some to individuals, and some to businesses.

Eventually, when their current lists become filled with defensive, suspicious hate-filled people who have tired of giving to groups who never get enough, they decide they need some “new” lists. SO, they go down to the basement, if you will, blow the dust off the old lists, rename them “new” lists, and give them to their callers. It’s then up to the callers to get rid of the wrong numbers, businesses (if they’re supposed to be calling individuals), deceased folks and out-of-service numbers. When they’re done, indeed, they’ve cleaned up the old list and turned it into a new one, but it was NOT a new list when they received it. Of course, the company will hype the old list as a new one and try to convince the callers that it’s going to be a big deal. It rarely is; it’s just a lot of thankless, head-banging work.

With my current company, the “new” lists seem to average about 10 years old. You can gradually figure it out after enough folks say “Well Mr./Mrs. So & So has been gone for 10 years!” At my old job, I sometimes encountered lists as old as 25 years. It makes for some “interesting” work, especially since some folks don’t appreciate pesky people asking for their dearly departed. Guess it’s all in a day’s work for us sons of perdition! © 2014