Friday, May 26, 2017

The Modeling Agency

My cell phone rings...should I risk answering?

It's a no-name call. An unrecognizable number.

I answer.

"Hi. Is this Mrs. Martinez?"

"Who's calling please?"

"Is this Mrs. Martinez?"

This is my phone and this person called me; the least he can do is answer MY question. I don't back down. "Who's calling please." My voice takes on a bit firmer tone and it's no longer a question but an imperative.

The solicitor gives in, "This is the Royal Modeling Agency. I'm calling to see if you received our flyer."

Click, click, click, go the cogs in my brain. Modeling agency? I grew up practically down the street from the Lenz Modeling Agency which advertised and even had free introductory classes. But, at my age...this is ridiculous, and I'm going to use this to my advantage with this nice phone solicitor.

"I'm almost sixty years old (an exaggeration by a few years-ha vanity!), and I'm really not interested. But,"

The man who's interrupted my day starts laughing, "We're a RE-modeling company and we're offering a special." He keeps laughing.

Which triggers my laugh, and the phone solicitor is no longer the enemy. But still, "I don't need remodeling, so thank-you, and goodbye.

In the days before caller ID, even answering machines, when phone solicitations were more frequent than phone calls from the neighbor wanting to borrow eggs, my dad figured out a way to deal with the incessant calls for credit card offers.

Phone solicitor: "Hello Sir, this is John from the Apex credit card company. We are offering an introductory rate with just an 11.9 % APR. Are you interested in applying for our card? Free first month interest?"

"Yes," Dad responded.

The inquiry continued, but not for long. The minute Dad could, he interjected how he needed the credit cards because he just got out of jail, and couldn't yet find a job. The enthusiasm ceased on the other end of the line.

"What were you in jail for?"

"Credit card fraud."

The phone call always ended.

In time, those land-line phone solicitations ended because everyone started screening their calls.

Then came the cell phone, and we had a reprieve. When it rang, I knew who it was. The public was under the erroneous assumption that no one had access to cell phone numbers. Maybe for a while they didn't, but that a while, didn't last long.

It used to be the door-to-door salesman who interrupted our mother's lives. Mom bought our beloved encyclopedias from a man who rang the doorbell. She also bought a set of illustrated Bible stories. She didn't have a car, and she probably welcomed the interruption to her day and the chance to bargain with the vacuum salesman,  the Fuller brush man, and the Avon lady.

Then people stopped answering their doors.

Then came the in-house parties scheduled by a sales-woman, or sales-man friend. A bricklayer in Texas told me if he drove by a house mid-day, and it was surrounded by suburbans and station wagons, it was surely a Tupperware party.

Then the station wagons disappeared.

The ultimate right is privacy. The ultimate right is free enterprise. What happens when they clash? When one is a nuisance to the other? When they work together, free enterprise will figure out how to maintain privacy, and free enterprise will follow on its heels with the code to enter.

Until another genius comes along and figures out how to eliminate cell phone solicitations-- beware the modeling agency.

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