Okay, Don’t Hang Up.

December 4, 1998

Earlier this week I heard an interview with a telemarketer on the radio. For those of you who don’t know, telemarketers are annoying twerps who call you up at home at dinnertime or some other really inconvenient moment with useless items to sell. Useless? All right, I’ve never actually bothered to listen to what telemarketers are trying to sell, but, honestly, if it’s something that can’t be advertised in a magazine, newspaper, radio or television commercial, or, for that matter, placed on store shelves, is it really something anyone wants to buy? Maybe if I stopped and listened to telemarketers I’d find that they’re selling really great things like cures for baldness. Or they might have equally useless things like car insurance for dogs. The fact that someone has to call me up at home and attempt to harass me into buying something automatically makes me not want to buy it. I’ll go bald, and I’ll never let my dogs borrow the car. That solves the problem without having to listen to some pinhead who has failed to find a way to answer his true calling as a malevolent dictator’s lackey. Here’s what really surprised me in the interview, though: telemarketers aren’t allowed to hang up on customers. Only customers can hang up first. So some people will keep telemarketers on the line with no intention of buying anything. According to the guy being interviewed, that’s rude and inconsiderate. Really? I can’t believe a telemarketer would have the cohones to say in a national interview that anything people do to him is rude. That’s like saying I’m rude because I slap mosquitoes when they bite me. If there are any telemarketers out there reading this, consider how your profession was invented: in a late-night meeting, after too much Thai food and Brazilian-Mozambique blend coffee, an executive said, "Hey, I think I’ve figured out a way to make our customers hate us and sell as few items as possible!" At some point, you probably realized just how idiotic this scheme is. And yet you went along anyway. Now…who’s the rude one here? Enjoy this week’s offerings which, I guarantee, will not try to sell you anything.

The following are actual comments received last year from Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards after backpackers completed wilderness camping trips:

"A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call."

"Escalators would help on steep uphill sections."

"Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness."

"Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands."

"Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals."

"All the mile markers are missing this year."

"Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse."

"Trail needs to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."

"Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."

"Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow during the winter."

"Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them."

"The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."

"Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights."

"Need more signs to keep area pristine."

"A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead."

"The places where trails do not exist are not well marked."

"I brought lots of sandwich makings but forgot bread. If you have extra bread, leave it in the yellow tent at V Lake."

"Too many rocks in the mountains."

Here are some actual answers from contestants who have appeared on Family Feud.

Name something a blind person might use: A sword
Name a song with moon in the title: Blue suede moon
Name a bird with a long neck: Naomi Campbell
Name an occupation where you need a torch: A burglar
Name a famous brother & sister: Bonnie & Clyde
Name a dangerous race: The Arabs
Name an item of clothing worn by the 3 musketeers: A horse
Name something that floats in the bath: Water
Name something you wear on the beach: A deckchair
Name something Red: My cardigan
Name a famous cowboy: Buck Rogers
Name a famous royal: Mail
A number you have to memorise: 7
Something you do before going to bed: Sleep
Something you put on walls: Roofs
Something in the garden that’s green: Shed
Something that flies that doesn’t have an engine: A bicycle with wings
Something you might be allergic to: Skiing
Name a famous bridge: The bridge over troubled waters
Something a cat does: Goes to the toilet
Something you do in the bathroom: Decorate
Name an animal you might see at the zoo: A dog
Something associated with the police: Pigs
A sign of the zodiac: April
Something slippery: A conman
A kind of ache: Fillet ‘O’ Fish
A food that can be brown or white: Potato
A jacket potato topping: Jam
A famous Scotsman: Jock
Another famous Scotsman: Vinnie Jones
Something with a hole in it: Window
A non living object with legs: Plant
A domestic animal: Leopard
A part of the body beginning with ‘N’: Knee
A way of cooking fish: Cod
Something you open other than a door: Your Bowels

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