Sunday, May 20, 2007

All Together in a Hand Basket

Disclaimer: I confess that this post appeared in my former blog Spring of the White Robin. Forgive me for plagiarizing myself. I have probably broken one of the cardinal rules of blogging. I like this post and wanted share it with my new readers. Of course, you realize that posting old stuff is much easier than composing new thoughts. Maybe the rest of you would like to check out this week's Fun Monday offering. The participants are writing poems. Hurry over to Nikki's blog to sign-up or to read the verses created by our blogworld friends.

I am one of many people that detest receiving calls from telemarketers. My husband and I put our number on the “no call” list to avoid dealing with salespeople offering aluminum siding, subscriptions to Southern Living, and books about the lovely and tragic Princess Di. However, apparently, some solicitors can still call and interrupt whatever you are doing, which you probably would like to continue doing even if you are de-fuzzing your wool socks. We still have charities calling our home, and companies calling to conduct surveys. Evidently, charities and people conducting surveys are still allowed to disrupt America at mealtime or anytime.

Now, I am hard-hearted when it comes to forking out dollars over the telephone wire. When the poor telemarketer pronounces those first words, “my name is Horace and I am calling for the Policeman’s Mother’s Donut Provision,”I am quick to respond that “we do not make donations over the phone,” as I efficiently place the receiver on the cradle. However, for some reason, I am seduced in to responding to surveys. Maybe I feel this way because this kind of telemarketing is designed to make the respondent important. After all, The American Society of Wonderful and Courageous People is asking ME for MY opinion about some critical matter.

A few weeks ago, I received a call that began with the woman identifying herself and her organization. (I do not remember her name or the organization probably because I was not paying close attention.) She requested that I participate in a survey about American trends. Why yes, of course, you want MY opinion about American trends. Then, she started her spiel that implied that the moral integrity of today’s society is degenerate and decadent. When the telemarketer asked if I agreed with this implication and I replied “No.” She actually did not know how to respond to my reply; her carefully worded speech was supposed to lead me to shout, “Yes, the world is going to Hell in hand basket.” After stammering for a few moments, she continued with questions. The next question was something like, “Do you think blah, blah, blah family values? At this point, it was clear to me that this survey was designed to elicit specific answers to fit a specific agenda. I felt that I was carefully being guided to reply to the questions in a certain way. This survey was no survey at all but attempt to steer answers to a foregone conclusion.

Yes, I know that horrific things happen today, but I truly believe that society has some huge strides since the days of my youth. In the 1950’s, not every citizen of the United States was afforded the same rights. Not all people were guaranteed the right to vote, not all children were allowed to attend schools with adequate facilities, not all people were allowed to live in homes throughout the cities, and not all people had the same access to gainful employment. Although today’s world is far from perfect, our democracy has made significant gains in offering more rights to more people. In turn these improved standards increase the moral fabric of our society not diminish it. I know that my telemarketing surveyor does not agree with me, but I do not think that she really wanted MY opinion.


Margaret said...

AMEN. I am with you in that handbasket. We have made great strides in some areas and have a ways to go in others. Still I hate the words degenerate and decadent. (so judgemental)

Molly said...

Being on the 'do not call' list worked for a while, during which we enjoyed uninterrupted dinners. Now every mortgage and loan company in the nation has gotten our number, and they are all hell bent on giving us a "great deal". They just will not accept that we are not interested in their deals. Much as I hate to hang up on someone who is so desperate for a job that they'll agree to harrass people for money, I now say goodbye and hang up.I have no trouble saying no to surveys. they take so much time, and often, as you point out, have specific answers the want you to give. Good for you not letting them manipulate you into the answers they wanted!

willowtree said...

That sounds a lot like 'push polling' a form of polling that was developed in America by political pollsters. And it sounds a bit like it was being done by the christian right.

Whenever I am asked to do a survey, I always ask for purchase order and explain that as I'm a consultant, I charge for my input.

For all others I just put the phone down and come back later and hang up, by which time they have realised there's no-one there.

I always like them to go through their spiel, if you hang up straight away they just get more calls done.

susan said...

Um...can one really plagiarize themself? tee hee

Tink said...

I don't believe the world is any worse off or more violent than it's been. Think of the dark ages. Think of witch burnings. Concentration Camps. Segregation. Diseased blankets for Indians. I could go on and on. I think people forget what human nature really is and how far we've come to get here.

Beth said...

Well, I see the world as a marked decline of civilization, but I don't expect those I poll to agree with me. Well, I don't actually poll people, but you get my meaning. I don't like telemarketers at all either. I bet the 50's were better before they existed. :D

Karmyn R said...

Oh boy does this sound familiar - I recently got a similar type Survey call to ask me about some tax issues that may be on the soon into the interview I realized exactly WHO was wanting these tax ballets - and they wanted me to answer approvingly, which I couldn't.

gawilli said...

I always wondered who those people were calling, because it sure wasn't me.

We have some survey software at work that allows you to load in the questions and a series of answers. I learned very quickly that you have to be very careful what you ask for because you can end up right where you "want to be" rather than getting the legitimate responses that will tell you how people truthfully feel.

C said...

I read a joke somewhere about a man who held a telemarketer on the phone claiming he was now part of crime scene investigation. He told the telemarketer that since someone was murdered at the scene where he was calling that now he was to remain on the phone or face arrest for obstruction of justice. The man put the phone down and commenced with random commments and referring to the bodies that weren't really there but to the dismay of the telemarketer since he felt compelled to remain on the line. Best revenge ever.

Attila The Mom said...

“my name is Horace and I am calling for the Policeman’s Mother’s Donut Provision,”

Warn a person, would you? LOL I can't stop laughing!

And I agree with you about the surveys. I'm in a "mixed" marriage---and since there isn't a Democratic Party up here in the mountains, I get numerous political survey calls from the local Republican Party.

They assume that because my hubby is a card-carrying member that I must be too.

Boy do they end up confused! LOL

Beccy said...

Great post. I hate the way these callers always call at dinner time...and we don't eat dinner at the same time each day!

goldennib said...

I use my answering machine to screen all calls. Everyone hates this, but I don't care, I'm rude like that. Just because you call me doesn't mean I HAVE TO talk to you. But I don't think this was the point of your post.

Anywho, the media has made it so easy to blow everything out of proportion. And so many people buy into it. Yes, there are terrible things happening everywhere, this is not new, but people love train wrecks and they love spreading the news about trains wrecks and of course, even people with no knowledge of trains, tracks or wrecks, know how to fix them.

Amy said...

hehe! I love that you plagiarized yourself!

....and it sounds like you were being prompted to vote for a specific candidate. I get these supposed surveys all the time.

I always stop them and ask "Is it ok for an illegal immigrant to take this survey?" I usually hear a click or a "um, no. Thank you." then click. What's funny is I never say that I am an illegal immigrant because I am not... I only ask the question!

Tanya Brown said...

LOL. Part of your story reminded me of a bit of business Stephen Colbert likes to pull on his show, asking guests "George Bush. Good president, or best president ever?"

The point of that is that surveys and polls are slanted to look for a particular viewpoint. If your particular viewpoint isn't represented, well, you aren't represented.