Hard to say goodbye
People who complain because address-changing computers barter their names should be thankful they appear on junk-mail, rather than telephone, lists. A steady influx of CAR-RT SORT correspondence, after all, can be tossed toward the handiest waste receptacle, thus developing skills that readily improve one's performance on any basketball court, or stacked on the hearth, against a kindling shortage.Skip to next paragraph
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What possible benefit can be derived from a junk phone call? It cannot be tossed, stacked or ignored. A ringing phone must be answered. Any call might be the call from The Reader's Digest or Publishers Clearing House, and who could be so cruel as to deny some eager soul the opportunity to shout: ''Congratulations! You've won the sweepstakes grand prize!''? Not I.
Nine times out of nine, of course, my phone is rung by some poor reader who, the moment I say ''Hello,'' is primed to stumble through a script that explains why I cannot afford to live another insecure day without burglar bars or carefree aluminum siding on my house.
In my home of unbarred windows and rotting clapboard, these phone solicitations invariably jingle down the wire during the evening meal, leading me to conclude: solicitors either survive on midnight snacks after work or skip dinner altogether.
It is useless to vary your own dinner hour. The callers possess an infallible spy system that alerts them instantly, the moment you seat yourself at table . . . unless you dine at 10 p.m. or later, by which time I, for one, have lost all interest in sauteed mushrooms, Cornish game hens or cornflakes. Whatever happens to be tantalizing my taste buds, I am expected to pick up the receiver and speak a gracious ''Hello.''
Unable to outwit the solicitors' time clock, I have devised a few self-defense methods for combating electronic pollution during mealtime.
The burglar bar and aluminum siding folk, for example, rapidly lost interest in talking to me when I said I lived on the eighth floor of a town-house condo. Since this was not true, however, I was eventually caught when one of the callers, who did his homework, learned there is no eight-story town-house or condominium within ten miles of my residence. It is best to stick with the truth , if at all possible.
My next tactic - ''I rent'' - worked just as well and had the advantage of allowing me to return to cold soup with a cleared conscience. Unfortunately, it also cleared the phone line for the photographic studio.
This persistent solicitation promises a fantastic discount certificate for a fabulous family portrait, assuming the lucky person called can name which one of the three men signed the Declaration of Independence - John Hancock, John Adams or Button Gwinnett.
Not only do I have no place to hang a family portrait, I can spot a trick question when I hear one. Anticipating I would terminate this interrogation speedily the first time it was hurled at me, I confidently announced, ''Button Gwinnett.''
The caller exclaimed, ''Wow! That's correct!''
''Whoa!'' I shrieked, ''you are kidding!'' and dropped the phone.