Saturday, 15 October 2011

Telemarketing Versus the Door-to-Door Guy

On average, I get around four calls a month, from some telemarketing guy or gal.  Over my entire life.....I've never bought anything from some guy over the phone.  In fact, I have some natural tendency....the minute the guy explains that he's selling something over the phone....to automatically decline the opportunity. He could swear on a stack of Bibles to save me $400 a year, and I still wouldn't make the deal via a telemarketing guy.

When I was a kid....about five times a year....out in the boonies of Bama....you would have some door-to-door guy come by.  The typical items were encyclopedias, painting the barn, or magazine sales.  I can't think of any guy who ever got past my dad over these sales.  The general answer was "no", or he'd ask just one question to be encouraging to the guy....before saying "I just can't do it".

The curious change over thirty years that I've observed is that very few people ever come to your door anymore.  One of the guys in my office commented yesterday about two young guys who came by and wanted to spray paint his picket fence....remarking how quick they could accomplish this....and he frowned on them because this spray paint would likely drift to his neighbor's fence, to get him into all kinds of trouble.  My associate is over sixty, and tends to think about episodes like this before signing up.

I think as the age of automation came, and cheaper telephone rates.....the sales folks realized the future was in telemarketing.  You could call two hundred people in one day.....and maybe find three weak people who were willing to buy six magazine subscriptions for fifty percent off.  It's a game of numbers now.

Around a month ago....I had the Kennedy Center telemarketing crowd call.  I had decided months ago to attend Madam Butterfly....to further my culture side.  To be kinda honest....I wouldn't advise most rural folks to attend Madam Butterfly because at some point....as you sit there in the midst of this huge Japanese scene....you grasp the whole story....and you just kinda want to get up and excuse yourself.  I guess after my one episode at the Center....they put me on a calling list.  They'd like to get me over to culturally expand myself....and spend $75.  While I'd admit I am fairly weak on culture....I'm just not that interested.

There's around a dozen jobs in the world that I just couldn't do....from TV weather man, to car salesman.  Somewhere in the middle....is telemarketing.  I just couldn't sell via the phone.  I'd be calling two hundred folks and hoping that just one was doped up on their medication or drunk from Pabst Blue-Ribbon....and that I could get them to whisk out their credit card to buy a Chinese painting of Panda bears sitting around a table and playing poker.  It's a sad way to make a living.

Then and Now

This week....ABC finally came out and said that four episodes of the new series "Charlies Angels" was enough....it was cancelled.  When the first episode came on.....I got about ten minutes into the story, and flipped to the History Channel.  The story was no better than the terrible scripts that Charlies Angels had back in the 1970s.

Some of the worst TV script writing came up with shows like Knight Rider, Charlies Angels, Mr T and Tina (they made nine episodes but only five ever aired), and The Texas Wheelers (it lasted for eight episodes).

There just isn't anything much to whip up a frenzy with folks about either Charlies Angels: 1977 or Charlies Angels: 2011.  Some bad guys.  Some hot lusty gals.  Some pistols.  Some action.  And everything ends in sixty minutes with things all fixed up.

It's kind of sad....millions set into motion to gear up for a season.  People have bought new cars and figure a five-year run.....with trips to Paris in the off-season.  Then you get this call....the show is cancelled, and you'd best start calling around for another start-up show in the spring.

The Unfairness Scale

I sat this week and got some 60-second piece from a Flea Party protester in New York City.  The jest of her commentary....she was angry that she'd been in college, borrowed a massive amount of money (she never detailed the amount, so I'm assuming it's $80k or more), and had yet to get the "big job" after graduation.  Her sign said something of the effect....blame the system...."unfair"....etc.

It bothered me for about a minute or two....then I kinda wondered how she really fitted into a anti-Wall Street protest.  She doesn't fit.

If she'd been at some college campus....complaining over cost, it would have made sense.  Basically, she was some hopeless unemployed person, with bills, and a damned future for the next two to three decades.

Imagine having a debt by age 22 of $100k.....even with a low-interest loan....years are in your future...dedicated toward repaying this loan.  The truth is, you can't be sure of what this unique experience of four years will deliver to you over the next thirty years.

Then it kind of hit me....the young lady never said what her education was in.  It would have been interesting to know if she studied French literature, South American history, or Japanese art.  She left that part of the story out.

So she got sixty seconds to tell a story that probably reached 400,000 people throughout America.  I suspect most felt sorry for her.  I didn't exactly have that compassion.  She's sitting in some flea circus operation....camping out along the streets of New York....not making an effort to find a job....and mostly whining about the terrible unfairness of life.  A year from now?  She'll probably still be frustrated....living in mom's basement....and delivering pizzas for $8 an hour.  If she's lucky....she might be some rental car manager in Provo's airport.

The truth here...life is unfair.  Some guy will finish high school this year....skip college, and end up a millionaire by age forty selling Christmas tree ornaments in Green Bay.  Another will borrow $100k, spend four years at Michigan State studying migratory bird patterns through Mexico, and still owe $10k at age 55 on their stupid college loan.  Life is truly unfair.