Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Evils of Telephone Solicitation

When asking a co-worker about the latest fortunes of her teenage daughter I was told matter-of-factly that the young woman had taken a new job - that of telephone solicitor. My reaction was one of shock and horror. My hands flew to my cheeks.

I reacted in the same manner I would had she stated her daughter was kidnapped by aliens - or that she'd found herself in a scrape with the law, accused of bludgeoning nine schoolchildren to death.

Why such a strong reaction?

Because I despise telephone solicitation as much as I despise murder or violent rape or drivers toddling in the passing lane. This is not a pet peeve. This is the only crime against humanity yet to be identified as such by our wayward politicians or their distracted constituents (neither statement being redundant, I plead, as there are rare exceptions to both - though far too few to make a difference).

I do not despise telephone solicitors themselves so fiercely because I suspect that most fail to understand what evil they do. But, that they are in league with murderers and bank robbers is entirely clear.

Oh! But Fantasy-Writer-Guy! Murder and bank robbery? How can you suggest such a thing? You are overzealous! You are silly!

Not so, my friend. These trespasses are precisely the same thing in principle and differ, if at all, only by degree. Stick around and I will convince you!

What is murder?

The taking of one's life? No! Not at all. If I murder you, I do not then possess your life. Neither have you lost your life. Life is a temporary state. Everyone must die. It is unavoidable. It is not evil to bring about what is already inevitable. Murder is a terrible thing but murder is only this: The stealing of one's TIME. When I murder you I negate all the time that remained for you between the day I pulled the trigger and the day you would have died otherwise.

Scenario 1: Murder equals the theft of time, one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

Bank robbery is also the theft of time. Hopefully you realize already that time equals money. If you're so enlightened, skip the following paragraph. If not, it's a subject for another occasion but here's the short version:

"Time is money" is not just some cute expression for the likes of the Donald Trumps of the world. Time and money are precisely the same thing. Time is precisely what money was created to measure and what it still measures today (though the formulas are deeply fucked up in our capitalist society but that's not important now). Money is not tangible. It's a certificate that measures how much time you've donated to society and thus, how much product of other people's time you're entitled to take from society. This is commerce. This is trade. This is the carpenter building the blacksmith a table and the blacksmith shoeing the carpenter's horse. Money just aids the process of trade as a ledger - for instances where the blacksmith needs a table but the carpenter has no horse. Get it?

Time = money

Bank robbery is the theft of money. Thus bank robbery is the theft of time. Might it differ from murder by degree? Certainly. But look at this scenario:

A bank robber steals $150,000. The money is reimbursed by an insurance company. The theft is ultimately from the customers of that insurance company. Those customers are destined to earn an average of $150,000 each over the course of their remaining lives. The bank robber has thus stolen one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

A recap:

Scenario 1: The murderer has stolen one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

Scenario 2: The bank robber has stolen one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

Following me?

Now! Telephone solicitation!

I own my time of course. It is the only precious commodity in the world and what all other commodities boil down to. I can choose not to look at a billboard. But If I do choose to, I'm volunteering my time. I can choose not to look at an ad in the newspaper. I can choose to decline participation in any form of solicitation unless the solicitor trespasses on my private domain - be it my front door or my telephone. Those are my properties. I choose whom to give my phone number or address to because I trust those people with my time.

Telephone solicitors steal my time. I have not invited them to my private front door or my private phone. Whether I answer the phone or go to it to check the call display or go to it to delete the message - My time has been stolen, never to be returned.

Scenario 3: A telephone solicitation company employs 35 callers for 4 years, thus stealing roughly 40 years worth of time combined from thousands of victims. If the average victim had roughly 40 years to live this would equal one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

A recap:

Scenario 1: The murderer has stolen one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

Scenario 2: The bank robber has stolen one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

Scenario 3: The telephone solicitation company has stolen one individual's remaining life's-worth of time.

There you have it. Whether, in reality, the math evolves as such is irrelevant. All three evil-doings are paramount in principle.

Were I a man of stronger conviction I might kill the owners of a telephone solicitation company just as I might go back in time and kill Adolph Hitler - given the rather unlikely opportunity for either.

And yet the company I work for once employed door-to-door commissioned salesmen and I did not resign nor did I object except in private discussion. Thus I am perhaps a coward and perhaps a hypocrite! Ah, well. Nobody's perfect.

But folks, do not despair! As with any crime, there are ways to protect one’s self from victimization.

1. Wait for politicians to enact appropriate legislation. They will eventually. Perhaps it will even happen in your children's lifetime.

2. Stop purchasing products or services through telephone solicitors. If every insufferable twit who did this would just stop, it would render the whole concept useless and the telephone calls would immediately cease.

Okay - these solutions are beyond your sphere of control, right? How can you directly protect yourself, you ask?

3. Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. In the USA solicitors are required by law to subscribe to and observe the list and ensure that they do not phone any number on it. Sign up. Here's the link:

In the USA:

This does not absolutely protect you from time-theft as there's no guarantee of compliance to the law by all perpetrators. They are evil-doers after all! It gives you a fighting chance though.

In Canada, we're a little behind. We have a list but not yet the legislation. It's probable that tel-sales scum are obeying the list regardless as it should make for more efficient sales results.

In Canada:

4. The fool-proof method: What if you actually enjoyed getting calls from telephone solicitors? What if you were happy to volunteer your time? It would not be theft in that case. You would not lose. Sound far-fetched? Not at all. Watch this space in the coming days and I will reveal some of my best secrets, many of them tested and proven -- how to have great fun with telephone solicitors!


Anonymous said...

hahaha revenge of the telephone solicitor!

tosh66 said...

"Make 'em Hang Up" That's my motto.

Yesterday's solicitation call.

Me: "Howdy"
Caller: "Am I speaking to Mr. Harris?"
Me: "Oh I'm sorry, Mr harris passed away day before yesterday and we are having his funeral at his home right now."
Caller: "Is there a Mrs. Harris?"
Me: "Well yes Maam, she is standing at the casket praying for her deceased husband. Do you want me to interrupt her and bring her to the phone?"
Caller: "Uh, er, (mumble mumble)."