A friend of mine informed me recently that he was being offered the cover of a prestigious (if unnamed) magazine. The people behind this magazine cover victory had sent him a cursory email announcing that he was
what they wanted. Of course, the email was brief and vaguely written - and the biggest suspicion that this was all a ruse came in the form of the name of the magazine. The magazine was named very strangely after my friend's name. He pretended that he was honoured - even though he was amazed that this 'magazine' chose him, without any effort on his part, over the thousands and thousands of other massage therapists in existence.
Which reminds me. The people who run these scams are getting smarter (or more stupid) depending on how you see it. It used to be that you could just count on an email from an 'esteemed friend' in your inbox. The email almost always beckoned you with a tragic story that you just could not ignore, and then tried to gain your confidence by luring you into doing something that logic told you was outrageous. I enjoyed the names they would come up with for these emails. But, even funnier for me were the position titles of some of the people behind the email pleas. My favourite one was a gentleman who was writing to me from a Central African bank. He was offering me a chance to share with him a ludicrous fortune laying dormant in an account of person wrongfully killed. His title was 'Administrator, Adjustor, Communicator, and Decision Person'. Yes... 'Decision Person'. Of course, I immediately wrote this gentleman back to tell him how impressed I was with his story. I was so excited that he found me out of the millions of people on the planet he could have gone to with this story. I gave him all my personal information and even told him where to find my soul in some anonymous locker at the local airport....hmmm.
Now, I've been getting announcements from various lottery committees in certain European countries announcing my winning of contests that I didn't even know I had entered. How exciting, I thought. So far this past week I have won 3 major awards worth somewhere like 500 million Euros. I wrote them emails explaining that as soon as I got my soul back from my friend the '...Decision Person' at that bank in Central Africa I'd fly over and collect my earnings. What a LUCKY fellow I am! My children could now grow up to be proud of me for doing absolutely nothing.....
My son is 5 now and he has shown a great interest in answering the home telephone - which can be amusing when it is not exasberating. My wife and I have explained to him how the telephone works, how and when to answer and what to say and not say. The lesson isn't always heeded. Generally, though, he is good. However, there was the small problem of those pesky telemarketers... the people who are always trying to sell you something. There were a few problems when he'd forget what we'd told him and in his excitement at the phone ringing he'd answer. It wasn't serious, it just made in slightly annoying to then have to follow through with the call - a call you'd rather have let the message machine answer. Then, it dawned on me. Perhaps the very person the uninvited telemarketer needed to speak to was my 5 year old son. So, in order to bridge the gap between my son's excitement to answer the telephone and my annoyance at having to endure a telemarketer I let him answer the telephone while I am with him - and only when I give him the green light. It is a system that seems to work well for him, and helps the family rid the house of pesky telemarketers. Because, if a telemarketer seems to hate anything more than an irate adult, it is an inquisitive child... especially a child with boundless curiosity.
So, now if we encounter a telephone telemarketer I let my son do all the talking. The conversation usually lasts about 2 minutes ... and I always monitor the conversation. The telemarketer asks the questions, or tries the speech. But, with my coaching, my son keeps them on their toes.... until they lose their footing that is. I ask my son to ask them where they live, what their names are, what their favourite colour is, who their favourite cartoon character is, and what their favourite food is - things like that. For the final insult to patience, I whisper to my son to start counting to 100. By about the number 24, which he has slowly and methodically arrived at, I can hear the phone hang up on the other end. The tables are turned then, the exasperation is now theirs and not ours. And, that is how the phone call always ends. My son thinks it is amusing, I think it is safely monitored, and the telemarketers are becoming less and less of a nuisance.
Now, if only I could find a way to get my son to help me get rid of those pesky people at the so-called Lottery Commission in Europe.... you know.. the ones who want to give me the millions of Euros for nothing. If only there was an email equivalent.