You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams

Location: Kentucky, United States

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Sell Phone

Several years ago, I signed up for a “free” carpet cleaning. It came by appointment, with a salesman attachment. Now, I had no intention of buying a vacuum cleaner, let alone one that cost four times as much as what you could buy at “Wal-Mart”. I don’t even like vacuuming, let alone mowing the yard.

When the salesman came to our house he showed us the “suck up a bowling ball” demonstration, followed by the “you clean the carpet first with your vacuum then I will suck up handfuls of disgusting detritus dating back to the Jurassic period deep from within your carpet with mine” routine. As he cleaned the carpet, he would make sales pitches. “Without any hard work on your part this machine will keep your house spotless, so you can spend your time being the confident, charismatic person you really are, or would be if you weren’t buried under all this disgusting dirt.” Actually, he was trying to give us the vacuum; it’s just that he had this family to feed. He might even be willing to forget them for the sake of our friendship but his Boss refused to let him give the vacuums away. Mean ole Boss, who does he think he is, anyway? Therefore, he would compromise and sell it to us so cheap it would be more like a gift between lifetime friends.

I however was having none of it. I was too smart for that. I knew a “free” cleaning that came with a salesman was not free. Now I had to go to work and all I had to do was “Just say no”. Isn’t that simple, two letters; and repeat as necessary. Just keep your wits and whenever he takes a breath, say NO.

Then I gradually came to realize that he really was a very nice person, and maybe, no I was sure of it, surely we could be best buds.

He kept offering us deals, each one better than the last. “I’ll give you one hundred dollars for your old vacuum, twenty-four months at fifty a month minus the special one day just for you two-hundred dollar rebate plus shipping and handling. By the way, did I mention that if you give me the names of all your friends and relatives and they buy a vacuum and sell me their soul, I will give you a three-dollar finder’s fee? Friend, just send five hundred of those wide-eyed innocents my way and your vacuum cleaner will be free.

I don’t know when the tide turned. You would think there would be a moment, a warning light, at least a Luke Sky Walker “I got a bad feeling about this” hint before you crossed over into the land of “Gotcha sucka!” Don’t you think?

While I was admiring our just bought eight hundred dollar suck-machine, in the back of my mind the little CPA voice had been adding things up. As the sales induced narcotic wore off, I came to the realization that as the salesman had been working his way thru all the various ways of saving me money we had apparently struck bottom and had worked our way back up the money ladder. The problem was that with all the different combinations; rebate this, half off that, bring in a coupon during the dark of the moon thing, I got lost.

That is when I realized that three offers ago while I was still just saying “NO” was quite a bit cheaper than when I had finally broke down and paid for the vacuum I neither needed nor wanted.
All of that came to mind Friday afternoon while standing at the counter of our local cellular dealer. This was the third time this week I had been in trying to consolidate
My wife and my accounts into one cheaper bill. We both had identical plans, but since we rarely use a tenth of the minutes we buy each month.

(Where do those extra minutes go anyway? Do they relieve some poor soul a few
prayers in purgatory? Is this the “If I could save Time in a bottle,” Jim Croce sang about? Maybe this is why all those dark matter equations just don’t add up for physicists the world over? What if we are doing severe damage to the space-time continum? This could make global warming look like a tempest in a teacup. Aren’t there any government agencies looking onto this?)

All I wanted to do was drop my wife’s line, get her a new phone and add combine our lines to share my minutes. Waste not, want not.

(Where did that expression come from? Waste not, want not; what does that mean? Does it mean; if I eat everything on my plate then I won’t stay hungry? Wouldn’t that make it, Waist not, want not?)

One the first day, I told them want I wanted to do, they said no problem. Well, one little problem, they had no phones. Could I come back the next day? They would have a new shipment of phones and they would fill out the paper work and have it waiting for me, OK? Sounds good, OK tomorrow it is. Next day after waiting in line for forty minutes there is a different Lady behind the counter. I tell her who I am, but no smiles today, and no, there isn’t any paper work already filled out. Therefore, we start over from the beginning. I want a new phone for my wife, and I want to consolidate our account. She informed me that could not be done; it would violate my service agreement. I told her the lady from yesterday said it would be “no problem”. She informed me the lady from yesterday did not know what she was talking about. So I ask what my options were. She said I could re-sign my account but the contract would not end until 2006 because I would have to add it to the end of my current account. No, I do not think I want to sign to a three-year contract “tank you, no tank you please”. So now, she gets all nice and says she will call her boss and maybe she can get him to make an exception in my case. Her boss we find out though is in a meeting today and will not be able to give us an answer until tomorrow. Can I come back tomorrow?
Ookaay, tomorrow it is.


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