This Week's Victim - Telemarketers, Part Two (Or Is It Part Three?)

Sometime during the three or so years that I have been compiling bitch-fests for the literally dozens of people who care I gave the boot to a pretty obvious candidate. I have always hated telemarketers, as do probably anybody who doesn’t receive a paycheck from one of these corporations.
To protect my sacred nightly ritual of DVR’d episodes of Springer, PTI, and Married With Children from interruption, I placed my name and number on the much ballyhooed “Do Not Call” list. This is not a fool-proof method, though, as I have continued to receive unwanted calls. Admittedly, though, the frequency has dramatically decreased.
Generally, I utilize the greatest invention of all time, caller ID, to screen these call, but every now and then I will actually pick up. Last Thursday was such a time.
The reason I picked up was because a good friend of mine received a call requesting his opinions regarding prime time television. One of the only people in the world who shares similar opinions as this moron, he used his time wisely, bitching about reality shows, CSI and the seemingly dozens of copycats, and the lack of any quality sitcoms.
I wanted this call, and when Burnett Phone Consultants called last Thursday at 8:41 p.m., I thought I had my chance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, but it appeared to be sort of similar. The company wanted to send me a tape of a show that was supposedly being tested for a prime time slot. They wanted me to watch it sometime Monday night, and they would call me on Tuesday for my opinions.
Of course, I agreed to their request. It was a dream come true. My opinion could control the fate of television history. Maybe I’d assist in helping the next Seinfeld, the next Married With Children, or the next Arrested Development. Or conversely, maybe I could stop the pain of hospital and police foresnic dramas. Or those horrific fat guy/hot wife CBS sitcoms.
On Monday evening, I arrived home in a daze, shook up by the tragic death of one of my heroes, Hunter S. Thompson, the Bob Dylan of literary political mischief. Sure enough, at my front door was a Fed Ex package. Along with the unmarked video tape (which in this age of DVD’s should have been a sign right there) was an instruction sheet and a couple of pamphlets that looked like those standardized tests we all took back in high school.
Believe it or not, I actually followed the directions. I opened the booklet that was marked “fill out before watching the video”. This is when I knew I was in trouble. Each page featured a handful of different brands of the same product. One page was toothpaste; another had tuna. My instruction was to write down on the answer sheet the corresponding number of the brand I was most likely to buy. I was pissed, but I took about five seconds to make my choices.
Then I sat down with the video tape. Actually, I had to hook up a VCR first, as I hadn’t watched a video tape since I bought a used copy of Up & Cummers #42 starring the voluptuous Raylene. The show was called Dads, and it was dreadful. They should have just called it Full Houses, as it was once again three divorced dads. One was supposed to be a charming ladies’ man, another was a dude who cared about nothing but his job, and the third was the token goofball with the silly catchphrases. Of course, the kids were unbelievably perky and they said the darndest things. Oh yeah, and Rue McClanahan played the kindergarten teacher.
I know enough about the industry that screeners’ tapes do not include commercials. How could they? They don’t have sponsors yet. Well, this tape did. And the booklet I was to fill out afterwards was almost the exact same as the first one. There was enough of a difference to potentially throw off a complete moron, but I like to think I’m an incomplete moron.
Last night, I received the second phone call around the time we had set up. After a handful of non-thought-provoking questions regarding the actual show (would you watch this show; should the show have a message or lesson, etc.) we got to the real reason they had me watch this travesty. The questions centered around Listerine, and while I remembered they had an ad I couldn’t remember anything about it. So for ten to fifteen minutes I had to repeat that I didn’t recall what I heard or saw in the ad; just that I remember there was one. We finally went over three or four of the questions in the books – obviously the same questions to see if the stupid show had changed my opinions. Of course, they would never acknowledge that this was the goal.
Obviously, I learned my lesson. I won’t make this mistake again. These bastards can call and call but if it’s not a recognizable name or number I’m not interrupting the Bundy’s ever again. And I’m never going to buy Listerine again. Don’t worry, ladies, there are other brands on the market. I’ll keep my breath fresh just for that slim chance of a beautiful woman with a strange fetish for a chubby, old, jaded media critic.

Today’s Ipod Mix:

1. Eddie Floyd, “Raise Your Hand” (The Complete Stax/Volt Singles)
2. Guided By Voices, “My Valuable Hunting Knife” (Human Amusements at Hourly Rates)
3. Wilco, “A Shot in the Arm” (Summerteeth)
4. Bob Mould, “It’s Too Late” (Black Sheets of Rain)
5. Hole, “Softer, Softest” (Live Through This)
6. The Kinks, “Situation Vacant” (Something Else)
7. Scud Mountain Boys, “Glacier Bay” (Pine Box)
8. Camper Van Beethoven, “Love the Witch” (Camper Van Beethoven)
9. Bob Mould, “Dreaming I Am” (Workbook)
10. Suburbs, “Cig Machine” (Ladies and Gentlemen, The Suburbs Have Left the Building)
11. Pixies, “No. 13 Baby” (Doolitle)
12. Paul Westerberg, “Mr. Rabbit” (Stereo)
13. Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the U.K.” (Never Mind the Bollocks)
14. Chuck Berry, “Too Much Monkey Business” (Anthology)
15. Bob Dylan, “I Want You” (Blonde on Blonde)
16. The Fall, “Fiery Jack” (50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong)
17. Richard Buckner, “Pull” (Devotion & Doubt)
18. Chuck Berry, “I’m Talking About You” (Anthology)
19. Sonic Youth, “100%” (Dirty)
20. Ray LaMontagne, “Hold You In My Arms” (Trouble)
21. The Velvet Underground, “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (Peel Slowly and See)
22. Peter Bruntnell, “Outlaw (May the Sun Always Shine)” (Normal For Bridgwater)
23. Bob Dylan, “If Not For You” (The Bootleg Series)
24. M. Ward, “Feel the Same” (End of Amnesia)
25. Weezer, “Butterfly” (Pinkerton)


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