Saturday, September 19, 2009

Donald and Minnie have left the building

posted Thu, 05 Aug 2004

Did I mention the quacker who was behind us in the security line in Denver? No, not a Quaker. Quakers believe in silence. This guy was a quacker. ‘Quacker’ is Harpo’s term for those obnoxious men who speak very loudly into their cellphones in public spaces – usually talking about Important Business Deals – so everyone will be impressed.

This quacker peppered his conversations with ‘yo,’ something a middle-aged white man should not be saying, especially if he is also using ‘man’ a lot. You gotta make a choice, man. Are you a ‘60s leftover or a rapper dude?

The essence of his conversation – and I heard it all because of course he was not speaking in a normal tone of voice but instead in the cellphone voice, which assumes that the cellphone does not serve to actually transmit the voice via the miracle of electronics but that the speaker must shout loudly enough to be heard without the cellphone – was that he had been in Denver for a Big Deal but it was Personal so he didn’t have his cellphone last night. Sorry, man.

The other thing he did besides quack quack quack was leave long voicemails. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of patience for voicemail. I listen long enough to get the phone number and that’s it. Don’t leave me a long, detailed message because I am not going to listen to it. If you have details, email them. I read faster than I hear and I am going to have questions anyhow. Maybe I wouldn’t mind long voicemails if people would leave relevant information only, but most people feel compelled to embellish with lots of unnecessary details. I don’t care. Get to the point. And leave your phone number FIRST. And repeat it!

Other things about cellphones that bug me: if you are in a meeting at work, turn off the cellphone. If you forget to turn it off and it rings, let it go to voicemail. Do not answer it and proceed to have a conversation right there in the meeting. It’s rude. Also, if your presence was not needed at the meeting, you wouldn’t have been invited (at least not to one of my meetings). I want your heart and mind concentrating on MY issues.

Lest you think I was too harsh on the woman who tried to call her father here yesterday – a few years ago, D&B accidentally listed my phone number as the switchboard number for my company.

There are 3,000 people who work in M’town alone for my esteemed employer.

Almost every day, I got a call for “the person in charge of buying trash disposal services” or “the person in charge of buying computers.” I learned quickly to just transfer these calls to the operator – after interrogating the caller as to the provenance of the number. I have told our D&B rep, with whom I work on other things, that he owes me a big box of Godiva chocolate, but he has yet to deliver.

These calls persisted for almost two years. If I had tried to track down the actual person to whom the caller wanted to speak each time, I would never have gotten any work of my own done. I don’t have a problem with sending wrong numbers to the operator. Let her look up the correct extension. That is her job.

So here’s a situation. What do you do when you want a product or service provided by someone in your family? For instance, after we went riding on Sunday, I decided that I needed a t-shirt with the name and logo of the stables emblazoned on it. When I asked Laurie the price, she said she didn’t know. As she is the manager of the stables – organizing huge tour groups and all the work that entails – I was taken aback. “You don’t know?” I asked.

She said that she meant that maybe my aunt had a special price for family. No, I told her. Just tell me the real price. That’s what I intend to pay. She let me, for which I was grateful. I had already ridden a horse for three hours for free, for crying out loud! I sure didn’t need a discount on a t-shirt. What sort of ingrate would that have made me?

But when I try to pay for the exquisite sausage my uncle Larry makes, my cousin Angie, who works with him, refuses to take my money. “It’s illegal to sell venison in Wisconsin,” she explains.

Yeah, but it’s their livelihood!

Lest you misunderstand – they process venison for hunters. So the hunters pay for the processing but they supply the meat, hence they are not paying for the meat.

But there are additional sausages, etc, that Larry and Rita and Angie and Bobbie Jo and Tony and Tim (it’s a big family business) make that the hunters don’t take. Some of it they sell retail, but they won’t let family members pay.

This puts me in a tough spot: I want a lot of the summer sausage, which is the most delicious stuff you could imagine, but if they aren’t going to let me pay for it, I don’t want to take too much lest I be greedy. If they would let me pay, then I wouldn’t mind taking as much as I want.

Does this make any sense?

I guess there are worse dilemmas to have.

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