Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Having a Grrrreat Day

He called again, that creepy guy who starts every conversation with "Goooood morning, Mrs. Sykes and I hope you're having a grrreat day!" ("grrreat" said with the Tony the Tiger inflection) I may have talked about him before.

He collects money for charitable causes but he calls every damn month. He's as regular as a menstrual cycle. And he's so militantly cheerful and always has a sob story about returning vets who can't get jobs or poor kids who want to go to a baseball game. But it's been so many years now that I have heard from him and my skin just crawls at the sound of his voice. I'm always very cold to him.

My latest reason for not contributing is that I'm unemployed and have no income, which isn't exactly true, though my 'income' would not be enough to live on, if Walt didn't have a great retirement package.

angry.gif (11615 bytes)I hate what telemarketers have done to me. I've written about this before. I used to contribute as much as I could to any cause that came down the pike -- AIDS research, starving children in other countries, animals in crisis around the world. I've saved whales and elephants and other endangered species. I've helped women through the fistula foundation, helped people start their own businesses in Third World countries, etc., etc.

But it just. never. stops. I know the need is great but the flood of requests just inures you to the plight of others around you. It's akin to kids who have no horror at the sight of violent crimes because they have seen so much of it throughout their live on real and fictional TV.

When you can't open your mailbox on any given day without half a dozen requests for money, when you are reluctant to answer your phone because someone might hold you hostage and wish you a "grrrrreat" day and then ask you for money yet again, you just want to crawl into your shell and never give anything to anybody.

This guy said that he knows I have asked to be called only once a year, but they had a special circumstance that just came up. Well, they had another special circumstance that just came up last month and then in between that special circumstance and today, I hung up on him.

I always feel like a real bitch when I hang up on solicitors. I know it's their job. I know the need is great, but can't they just let us have breathing room? There are so many requests that I've lost the ability to tell the important ones from the frivolous ones. Is it more important to elect Obama, or give a vet a job? Is the life of a whale more valuable than the quality of life of a woman in Africa? Is what is being learned from a gorilla who knows sign language as valuable as AIDS research?

Then there are the organizations that want YOU to be the solicitor. Won't you please collect for diabetes research, cancer research, heart disease research, the American Lung Association? They used to send you a kit that included a list of people to contact; now they don't even do that. You have to create your own list. It's like being on Facebook -- which of your friends and neighbors do you want to annoy? I tell them time and time again that I'm not responsible. I lose the materials, I forget to send them out. Please choose someone else, but they are adamant. Don't I care about the people who are dying of xyz disease? Small children will drop dead if I don't accept their collection kit.

They send their kits anyway and the kits get buried in the clutter and I forget to send them out or I never get to the post office for stamps and ultimately I throw it all away and they get nothing from me or from any of my friends and neighbors whom I have decided to annoy.

So I just cop out. I don't open my door to anybody with a clipboard, I don't answer the telephone if I recognize a telemarketer (or for an 800 number) and I throw away mail solicitations unopened. And I feel very guilty when I do that, but there just comes a point when it's all too much.

What's scary is that more and more I am becoming like my father, who had a huge sign on his door saying something to the effect that if you haven't been invited, you are trespassing on his property and to please go away (except I don't think he added "please.")

Charitable organizations have made me a recluse and a bitch. And I'm always fuming for hours after the guy who wishes me a grrrrreat day calls.

But then, since he's about the only person who ever calls me, I suppose I should be grateful that at least there's one cheerful voice out there who wants to talk to me.

Even if he only wants to talk to me to find out how much money he can get out of me.

How do YOU decide what to contribute and to whom? How do YOU handle the flood of telemarketers and e-mail and snail mail solicitations? And how do you do it without feeling guilty about the number of times you say "no"?

(and then there's the cheery guy from the SF Opera who woke me out of a very sound sleep this afternoon to ask me to financially help young people who want to be opera stars.)

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