Yesterday evening I received a call from a number that my caller I.D. identified as 202-817-XXXX. For obvious legal liability reasons I won't be publishing the entire telephone number. The name that appeared was "Washington, D.C." which coincides with the area code.
I normally don't pick up calls I don't recognize because they're almost always telemarketers, but since the call originated from the capitol city of our glorious empire I took the chance. After I said "hello" there was a several second delay before the caller started speaking. He identified himself as a representative of a veteran's organization I did not recognize and cannot now remember the name of. As he continued with his pitch, I noticed two things:
1) His pitch was very smoothly delivered as if he'd spoken the same words a thousand times without losing his salesman's artificial enthusiasm.
2) Unlike most telemarketer calls there was a complete absence of background noise. Normally one can hear a subdued cacophony of voices all blended together. This caller could have been sitting in a soundproof room.
The caller conjured up terrible images of veterans who fought for our country who are now cold, sick, jobless, homeless, and hungry. He finished his pitch with, "We're asking for a one time tax deductible donation. Can we depend on you?"
Like most people, I don't want to either feel, or appear to others as someone who cannot be depended on. But...unlike many of my fellow Americans who no doubt blindly provided this organization with their credit card number, I am cynical to the bone. I decided to ask a few pertinent questions, "Can you tell me how you got my number and do you have any idea who you're calling?"
After several seconds, the same smooth, practiced voice responded, "I'm sorry. Could you repeat that?"
At this point I knew I was talking to a computer. I decided to ask a really easy question, something anyone raising money for cold, hungry veterans would surely be able to answer accurately, "Can you tell me the name of the President of the United States?"
Again there was a several second delay. "I'm sorry. Could you repeat that?"
I burst out laughing and hung up.
I was pretty disgusted with this call for a number of reasons. There really are war veterans who really are suffering from service related disabilities. Many of them really are unable to find a job or receive the medical care they need. And every career conman on Capitol Hill is proud to be photographed with a veteran or two, preferably veterans who are smiling and wearing uniforms bedecked with medals.
So why are those veterans-in-need having to hire a fund raising organizations to beg for money? Or are these organizations raising money out of the goodness of their heart? And what percentage of the money collected actually finds it way anywhere near a veteran? And why doesn't the fund raising organization hire disabled veterans to man their phone banks? Perhaps computers work cheaper and don't take bathroom breaks? What should the next Timothy McVeigh learn from the fact that America places such a low value on the well being of its disabled veterans? And why have America's corporate lapdogs in Washington, D.C. deferred their responsibility for those veterans to organizations who's only objective is to maximize profits?
Feel free to relay this story to your favorite member of Congress.
Perhaps the person known only as "Completely disgusted by ignorance" could fire off a strong letter to her Congressman.