Sunday, October 15, 2006

Making myself out to be the bad guy

I have a thing about unsolicited phone calls.

If someone calls me up and asks for money, the answer will always be no. Period.

I don't care how good the cause is. I don't care if they just want me to "pledge" some figure that they suggest. I figure giving in just encourages bad behavior. I'll usually try to be nice, but the longer they persist, the more inclined I become to just hanging up on them.

So, just as I was starting to eat dinner tonight, the phone rang. I was hoping it was the SOOTTAD, but ended up picking up to the voice of a gruff voice asking for a Mr. or Mrs. SOOTTAD. At this point, my brain has already identified that somebody is calling the house off of some mailing list and is preparing to make this person go away:

There's no SOOTTAD here. (this has actually been an effective tool for other unsolicited calls since she moved away.)
"Is this [my address]?"
Yes, but there's no SOOTTAD here.
"What's the address there?"
(ok, so now I'm getting a little annoyed) Can I ask who's calling?
"Waltham Fire Department"
He says something about raising money for this and that and then actually goes off on how he can't read the writing on the sheet to properly pronounce the name (the SOOTTAD's last name) and how he can read his own writing but not this writing on the piece of paper he's looking at and then finally asks who I am.

The conversation takes a serious nosedive at this point, but he does get my name and I learn that the Waltham Fire Department (or rather, what sounds like the local union or lodge) is raising money for Waltham youth sports and some equipment (I think for both the aforementioned youths and the fire department themselves.)

I'm sorry. Youth sports? You mean for the kids I don't have? Like the youth sports that don't let me get permits to use the athletic fields in my town? Those youth sports? [To be fair, I'm actually okay with my taxes going towards schools and generally supporting education and after-school activities. I'll probably have kids of my own someday, but I also believe that it benefits society as a whole as an investment in the future. But that's neither here nor there. Just don't call the house and ask for money. Especially on a Sunday night when I'm eating dinner.]

And if the money is for equipment for the fire department, it begs the question, why doesn't the fire department already have the equipment it needs? Isn't that what my taxes are for? I mean, is this like the whole body armor thing?

And I hate to bring it up, but it really bothers me when public services ask for money. I've had the same feelings when police organizations have called. I'm sure it's a bad thing for me to even mention it, but in the back of my mind, I always wonder whether they keep tabs on these sorts of things and it might somehow affect the response time in the case of an emergency. Crazy, I know, but well... there it is: my brain going off and doing its own thing.

And fire department aside, what is up with all the businesses that are soliciting their customers to make donations for this charity, cause or what-have-you? There are a bunch of little orange cards (presumably shaped like pumpkins and bought for some nominal donation) taped to the inside window of the Staples down the street; the local Shawr's routinely asks me if I want to buy a [name seasonal paper icon here] for a dollar for [insert another good cause here]. Crickey, they even asked me for a donation in the Wendy's drive-thru for some education or children's charity fund. I think once upon a time, when a corporation pledged that they would give a certain amount of money towards a good cause, they'd actually DONATE THE MONEY THEMSELVES, not hit up their customers. Apparently these days you can get street cred by simply getting other people to give money for you. Bah.

But regardless, I hope there are no fires here any time soon.

1 comment:

DrSavageJ said...

Funny you should mention this particular issue - it has been something that has been coming up often during lunchtime discussions. My response may sound a bit stilted being that my brain is in business mode. In any case, I will comment on two issues: 1)unwanted solicitation calls and 2)the question of raising money.

1) I used to be quite friendly to the unwanted solicitor but it became increasingly bothersome, i.e., they refused to take no for an answer. Now my standard reply is I do not pledge or donate over the phone. My SO generally asks if they are a non-profit organization (the answer is usually 'no' after referring to their supervisor), wishes them luck on finding a 'good' job, and hangs up. Abrupt but effective. IMHO, people really should not be calling for donations - it is like having an unwanted guest pop up in the middle of your living with their hand out - yes, this would be an invasion of privacy. Unsolicited calls - definitely no.

2) Raising money. I like your method - pamphlets in stores (ideally targeted) and then the donator can decide at their leisure whether to donate. True, sometimes a little prodding is needed. Yes, I was guilted into donating to public radio though I should have done so without complaint. I don't buy the argument (as one of my colleagues suggests) that people would donate without solicitation. No. People would not do so. If something is not in their faces or minds, it would not enter their consciencnesses. Maybe this is harsh but I think it is true otherwise why are there so many aggressive fund raising campaigns? I really like your idea but unfortunately, I believe unsolicited fundraising is here to stay.