Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Foot in the Door

One of the recurrent situations in the comic strip "Blondie" ( Elmo walking in on Dagwood in the bathtub, Dagwood knocking over the mailman running for the bus) when the strip's genius/creator Chic Young was still writing it, was the persistent door-to-door salesman, who would stick his foot in the door and keep it there until Dagwood bought a potato peeler or whatever gadget the guy was pushing.

The door-to-door salesman is just a memory of the past. I believe there are stuffed examples in museums. What we now have instead, and just as annoying, are the telephone sales people. They time their calls to come just when you're taking a souffle out of the oven or when the 6:00 news anchor is about to reveal the day's big story. The calls always carry some unknown area code, and the caller, speaking from someplace that sounds like a garage, begins by addressing you by name, which he will mispronounce, even if your name is Brown.

"Mr. Broom," he'll say, "how are you today?" As if he cares. What always throws the caller off is to ask, "Who is this calling?" The question startles the caller, and he has to consult his script to find an answer. By this time, of course, you will have wished him good luck and hung up, vowing never ever to answer the phone again when Caller ID fails to supply a name.

There are some callers who will leave a message, usually something like "This is Inspector Masterson of Division 346. Return this call at once. Failure to respond will mean the issuance of a warrant and your arrest, possibly for life." All "Inspector Masterson" wants is the security code to your bank accounts and your credit card numbers.

And then there are the e-mail intrusions cum scams, but that's another story. What we need to know is how would Dagwood deal with all this? Chic Young, come back!

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