Hogan's Alley

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Answer Your Phone...

The arrival of November 7th brought with it not only the end of our long election season. It also blessedly brought to a close the assault of robocalls on behalf of candidates and political parties. In the ensuing days I had begun to lose the habit of compulsively checking the caller ID before doing something so wildly foolish as blindly punching the answer button and saying "hello".

It turns out that I dropped my precautions too quickly. By the end of last week the supper time air was again full of the sound of ringing phones. Now, however, the callers were not political supplicants but the old fashioned sort of beggars and pleaders, fevered high tech call rooms chasing down your humble blogger for a small portion of his income on behalf of various charitable causes.

To be sure, each and every cause is noble and deserving. But no one, including me, is going to donate to every single cause that happens to obtain or stumble upon the phone number of a living, breathing person. When did it become my duty in life to craft polite, yet effective and short, explanations to desperate, underpaid and bonus-driven phone solicitors who only want to offer me the seasonal benefit of a tax deduction?

Like every rational person I have long ago added myself to the official do-not-call lists maintained by state and federal governments. Blessedly, that has insulated me from most of the endless parade of commercial solicitations. The lobbyists for the now desperate telemarketing industry and the non-profit charities were able to carve out an exemption for themselves.

While I recognize the difference between commercial and non-commercial interests, there is absolutely no practical difference in the disruptive impact on the peaceful enjoyment of my home caused by these callers. If our legislators are interested in writing laws in the interest of their constituents (yes, I can still occasionally remain hopelessly naive), then let them extend the ban on calls to these charities.

In the meantime, for myself I have adopted a policy of zero response to phone solicitations. If you call me, the answer is no. If you want to have a shot at receiving a donation, send me your materials in the mail. I still won't respond to every one received, but I will say yes to some.