Tag Archives: Sales

Eloise Calls the Robo Callers©

“Ring.”  When Eloise Simplekins picked up her phone, a robot voice said: “Hello. This is Jan.  Congratulations! You qualify for ….  Please press ‘one’ now to speak to a customer representative. Press ‘nine’ now if you wish to be removed from the qualification list.”

“Fiddlesticks!” said Eloise, and clicked her phone off.   It was the sixth robo call this week.  She had tried hanging up, she had tried pressing “nine,” but a salesperson always came on the line anyway.  She had pressed “one” and told the person who answered to take her off their list.  The person didn’t answer Eloise’s request.  All Eloise heard was a  click and a dial tone.

Eloise Simpelkins is plain—beginning with her name and continuing with her squat chunky figure, her thick unruly hair, her flat face, her squinty eyes, and her pug nose.  But she is very smart.

Years ago Eloise became a pre-cleaning lady for the women of La Mancha, that rich part of town where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.  It embarrassed the women of La Mancha to have their cleaning ladies see poopy toilets in their husbands’ bathrooms, so Eloise became their pre-cleaning lady. But she became much more.  These women ached to reveal their foibles to someone.  Eloise was there every week and seemed discreet. She became their confidant, and the women rewarded her handsomely.  She invested wisely and became a wealthy woman.

Robot phone calls irked Eloise, and after she became rich they irked her even more.  When she couldn’t convince the “you qualify for…” robot voice organizations to quit calling her, Eloise turned to Hadley Wilkins for help.

Readers will remember Hadley “Cyberman” Wilkins. He’s the electronic engineer who helped develop cell phone technology.

“Hadley,” she said. “I need your help.”

“Say on, oh Wise One.”

“I get six to eight robot calls a week,” she said.  “If I hang up, they just call back.   I press the button and talk to a live operator but they still won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  Hadley, I want you seek out the private phone numbers of the executives who run these robo-call outfits.   I’m going to give them a taste of their own medicine.”

“On it,” said Hadley.

Randall Egregious, the vice-president for operations at Techaly Communications, Inc., was relaxing in his den when the unlisted number on his cell phone rang.  The screen said “Mara Belle.”  Mara Belle Function was a Techaly  executive.  Egregious clicked on.

“Are you being pestered by robot telephone calls?” a robot voice asked.  “If you get robot calls seven days a week, please press one.  If you get robot calls…”  Egregious clicked the phone off, but the robo- voice continued talking: “If you get five or fewer robot calls a week, please press two,  if you get fewer than three  robot calls a week, please press star.  To repeat this message, please spell out “help,” on your keypad. ” Egregious hurled the phone across the room.  It slammed into the brick fire place and fell to the floor.  The robot voice continued to speak:  “If you are angry and frustrated and want to destroy your cell phone, please press the “tone” button.”  Egregious picked up the cell phone, ran outside, and threw it as far as he could.

He came back inside and turned on the television.  Instead of his favorite channel, the screen showed a television test pattern.  From the television speaker the robot voice intoned the same message.

Egregious ran to his car and sped to his office.  He called the company’s technology director at his home.

“George, this is Randall Egregious. I’m at the office.  How do I shut down the robot-call apparatus?”

“You can’t.  Don’t you remember?  You ordered us to create closed-circuit hardware and software that would, in your own words, ‘make robot calls forever.’”

Egregious clicked off and ran down the hall to the fire safety cabinet.  He yanked it open, grabbed a fire ax, ran back and smashed all the robot-call machines.

Then he scribbled, “I quit, Randall,” on a scrap of paper and taped it to the CEO’s office door.

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Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book of humor columns, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia,  is available on Amazon. You can also visit his website at www.daydreaming.co

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Shy Freddy and Salesman Sam©

Freddy was smart and looked handsome with his dark hair and his horned
rim glasses. But Freddy was so painfully shy that he almost never spoke. Some people
mistook Freddy’s reticence for wisdom and admired him for it.
Freddy grew up as an only child on a farm a long way from town. His father and
mother died unexpectedly when he was in his teens and Freddy came to live with an
elderly aunt in Letongaloosa.
After he moved to town Freddy hardly ever went out. Occasionally Mrs.
Chattermore or Mr. Buttinsky would see Freddy in the yard and force him into a
conversation. That made Freddy panic, and when he panicked Freddy spoke gibberish.
Freddy read a lot, and he watched a lot of television. He had vast amounts of
information from books and television stored in his head, but when he was forced speak,
Freddy’s shyness made him blurt out gibberish phrases. Some people thought he was
being clever; others may have thought he was high on something.
Freddy lived quietly and peacefully until Salesman Sam came along. Salesman
Sam was very smart, but he looked really dumb. His beady black eyes and his pug nose
were set smack in the middle of a big flat pumpkin-pie face. Sam was hulking and
rotund. His body sloped up toward his head and down toward his feet. He looked like a
toy gyroscope.
Sam was the kind of salesman that makes people put “no solicitation” signs in
their yards and on their porches. Sam ignored “no solicitation” signs and “Beware of the
Dog” signs. He even ignored “Quarantined” signs. Salesman Sam was pushy and
persistent. Once someone cracked the front door and Sam had inserted his number
fourteen shoe inside, it was all over. Sam had a sale.
Despite being pushy and persistent, Salesman Sam didn’t get into many houses. His
bulk and his ugly pumpkin-pie face worked against him. That hurt his sales, and he was
looking for a partner who could get him in the door.
Fate, or destiny, or the Native American trickster gods brought shy gibberishspeaking
Freddy and bombastic Salesman Sam together.
Salesman Sam was working in Freddy’s neighborhood and he was having a
terrible day. People yelled at him from behind locked doors but they wouldn’t let him in.
Freddy’s aunt was at her mahjongg club when Sam loomed onto the porch and
pounded on the door.
“Open up. It’s the F-I-B,” he shouted.
That scary door approach was one Sam saved for times when he was desperate.
It worked. Freddy opened the door and Sam clumped into the house.
“I have a really great deal for you, young man,” said Salesman Sam.
“Stocks were mixed in mid-day trading, and when used as directed Duodib
relieves symptoms within minutes,” said Freddy.
“What did you say?” asked Sam the Salesman.
“Foster told sports reporters he was keeping his options open with this marvelous
new double ply bathroom tissue,” said Freddy.
“Huh?” said Sam.
By this time Freddy was trembling noticeably.
“Okay, son,” said Salesman Sam. “Just take it easy. Everything’s going to be all
right. Can I sit down?”
Freddy nodded. Sam lowered his bulk onto a sofa and motioned Freddy to sit
beside him. Sam smiled. “You and me need to talk, kid,” he said. “I need a partner. Do
you want a job?”
Freddy nodded.
A year later Sam and Freddy were featured on the cover of Neighborhood Sales,
the industry’s leading retail door to door magazine. They had won the magazine’s
annual sales award. People couldn’t resist letting nerdy Freddy into their houses, and
once they did, Sam never lost a sale.
Standing behind a microphone at the awards banquet Sam the Salesman said, “I
couldn’t a done it without Freddy.”
A trembling Freddy said, “Side effects are mild and may include headaches, sore
throat, and much more sunshine over the next five days.”

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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The Consultant

 

When I was a teenager, I was klutz. My klutziness—with everything from gadgets to girls—was a source of merriment for my friends, and despair for me. I shared my anguish in an interview with my kindly old Bishop.

He gave me some advice: “The Lord makes imperfect people with the hope that they will help other imperfect people with their imperfections.” That advice didn’t mean much to me at the time, but it does now.

It got me a job.

I was at a local hardware store when I met the headhunter who set up my job interview. I had gone to the store to return a faulty flashlight. The flashlight, it turns out, worked fine. Apparently I had put the batteries in wrong.

The salesman, Mr. Morales, turned the batteries around, replaced the cap, and flicked the switch. The light came on.

“It’s working now,” he said, and handed me the flashlight. He smiled, but he didn’t give me “the look.” That’s why I always look for Mr. Morales when I return merchandise at that hardware store.

Every time I hand faulty gadgets to other salespeople, they make the darn things work in an instant.

“You had the fragjibber in backwards,” they say.

Then they give me “the look.” You know what I mean, that surreptitious supercilious raising of the eyebrows that says, “If this guy is brain dead, shouldn’t he be on a respirator?”

It was while I was thanking Mr. Morales that the headhunter, Sandra Chang, came up and started talking to me. She asked me what I did for a living. I told her that I was retired and working my head off at odd jobs to make ends meet. After we had chatted a while, Ms. Chang asked if I would be interested in being a consultant. I said, “Sure I would.”

When she called some weeks later, she had set up an interview with Apogee Engineering. I’d never heard of the outfit, and Ms. Chang was pretty vague about what they do to keep their stockholders happy. She was also vague about which of my myriad talents Apogee Engineering was interested in. She said they’d explain in the interview.

Ms. Chang briefed me well. She said that first they’d go over my resume, and told me what they’d be looking for. She was right on target. She said that after the routine stuff, they’d want to ask me some different questions. She told me to be sure I answered all their questions truthfully.

“No problem,” I said. “My life’s an open book. I’m a professor emeritus from a small university, and I teach part time at a large university. I don’t drink, and I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. I’m a very happily married man.

On the appointed day I went to Apogee Engineering. The interview was going great. They seemed completely satisfied with my answers to the routine resume questions. Then the assistant to president cleared his throat.

“Professor, as Ms. Chang may have told you, the project we’re considering you for is very important to Apogee Engineering. Because of that, you’ve been the subject of a rather extensive background check. Would you mind confirming some of our findings?”

“Not at all,” I said. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.” Then I said to myself, “Bring it on.” I was secure in the fact that I have lived a solidly upstanding, if somewhat prosaic, life.

“Professor,” said the assistant, “a couple of weeks ago the local computer store sent someone out to your house. Why did you call them?”

“I inadvertently put a CD Rom disk into the B-drive slot instead of the CD Rom slot on my computer,” I said. “It got stuck, and I couldn’t get it out.

“I see,” he said. Then he went on.

“The folks at Triple A report that you have made extensive use of their emergency road service. In fact, you called last them last week. Can you tell us what happened?”

I paused. “Where was this guy going with this stuff?” I thought. “Oh well, what the heck,”

“I was driving to work and a car splashed mud on my windshield. When I turned on the automatic windshield washer, it squirted oil all over my windshield. I couldn’t see a thing, and I ran into a curb and blew out a tire.”

“And how did oil get into the reservoir of the windshield wiper?” asked the assistant to the president of Apogee Engineering.

“Lie,” whispered a little voice inside me. “Lie your socks off.” But I didn’t.

“A couple of days earlier the oil light came on, so I put in some oil. I must have poured oil into the wrong hole. All those darn caps under the hood look the same.”

I wondered if he was going to give me “the look,” but he didn’t.

“You’ve returned nine appliances to local stores in the last few weeks. How many of those appliances were actually faulty?”

“These guys are setting me up,” I thought. “They’re going to give me the old heave ho. Well I’ll save them the trouble.”

“All nine appliances worked perfectly when the store personnel adjusted them, I said with quiet dignity. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be on my way.” I stood up.

“Professor,” said the assistant to the president, “please sit down.”

“You people are trying to humiliate me,” I said.

“On the contrary, we’re trying to hire you,” he said. “We’ve been looking all over the country for someone like you. You’re bright. You’re successful. You’re a solid citizen. And you’ve been blessed with a gift. World class athletes 2

are a breed apart. They run the 100-yard dash in 9.3 seconds. They bat .375 year after year. They shoot in the low sixties in high pressure golf tournaments.

“What does that have to do with me?” I asked.

“You are an extremely rare phenomenon. Industrial companies all over the world hire Apogee Engineering and pay us millions of dollars to help them idiot-proof their products.”

“So you’re looking to hire a blithering idiot,” I said bitterly.

“On the contrary,” he said. “We’re looking to hire a world class reverse mechanical engineering genius, and you are he. You’re one in a billion. If a consumer product doesn’t baffle you, it won’t baffle anyone. Please come to work for us and help make consumer products safer for people all over the world.”

So I did. -30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Cheap Dirt

Maggworth’s Flea Market–excuse me, Maggsworth’s Antique Mall—is named for a guerrilla leader who raided our town and killed a lot of people during the Civil War. Colonel Moriarty Maggsworth was his name, and kill and pillage was his game. He and some of his cohort were later hanged.

Its name is the only thing exciting about the “mall.” The place itself is pretty drab—there’s a bunch of stalls set up in an old warehouse near downtown.

There are jewelry booths, pre-owned clothing stalls, furniture booths, sports card booths, and a both where they sell toilet paper holders made out of armadillo shells. The mall is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. You don’t quit your day job when you open a stall at Maggworth’s Antique Mall. But owning a booth at the mall, or shopping there every weekend does give the townspeople something to look forward to. Other wise they’d be sticking their tongues into electric lamp sockets to break the monotony.

One Saturday morning a stranger came to the mall and asked to rent a booth. There were four or five stalls unoccupied at the time so Ana Maria Symphonia Schultz, president of the mall cooperative association, signed him up, collected a month’s rent and showed him to a stall.

“You’re not going to sell dirty magazines are you?” asked Ana Maria Symphonia.

“No,” said the stranger.

“Good,” she said and went back to the booth where she and her partner Greta Soulsworthy sold exotically contorted ceramic vegetables.

The stranger dusted off the shelves and stacked them with cheap white Styrofoam cups—the kind you buy when it’s your turn to furnish hot cocoa for 150 people at a church bazaar. Then he nailed a board across the front of the booth for a counter and hung up a sign. It was hand lettered and it read: “DiRT fOR SaLE.”

With his merchandise in place the stranger sat down on a folding chair and began reading a magazine.

“Whatcha sellin’?”

“Dirt.”

“What?”

“Dirt.”

“Ya mean DIRT?”

“Yes.”

“Lemme see.”

The stranger handed the man one of the Styrofoam cups.

“It’s fulla dirt.”

“Yes.”

“Hey, Maggie, git over here. This guy’s sellin’ dirt.”

Maggie didn’t respond. She was gazing into a glass case containing several sets of authentic kidney stone earrings. Others, not so deeply absorbed, sauntered over to the stranger’s booth.

“This guy’s sellin’ dirt,” Gertrude’s husband said as a small crowd gathered.

“How much?” asked a pragmatic 13-year-old who had pushed his way to the front.

“The large containers are 75 cents, the middle-sized ones are 50 cents, and the small ones are a quarter, tax included,” said the stranger.

“Where’d the dirt come from,” asked somebody.

“From my back yard,” said the stranger.

“You just dig up dirt in your back yard and bring it in here to sell?”

“Yes.”

“What does it do?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re selling dirt that don’t do nothin’?”

“Yes.”

“Hot dog,” said the man. “I’ll take three big ones and a middle-sized one.” The stranger had sold all his dirt in an hour. He never returned.

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Hadley Hacks A Hacker

Hackers cause all kinds of grief for cell phone users.

Hadley Wilkins was an electronic engineer who had helped develop cell phone technology. He hated hackers, so he decided to go after Henry “the Hulk” Histoid, the meanest, most intrusive hacker in the business.

But he decided to do his work not as mild mannered Hadley Wilkins, but as Cyberman, defender of the cell phone innocent and the digitally clueless.

Using his own genius software, Hadley lurked on the Hulk’s cell phone circuit. He watched and listened for a week as the Hulk did his dirty work on other people’s cell phones—listening to, and sometimes interrupting, their conversations. He also messed with their private cell phone files.

Hadley hacked into the Hulk’s file of personal phone numbers. There were lots of them. Hadley collected the Hulk’s personal data and credit card information. He already knew a lot about the Hulk’s buying patterns and e-the mail addresses of the companies he bought from. Hadley knew he could order all kinds of merchandise from online companies and catalog stores. He could even mimick the Hulk’s voice if the companies recorded the sales calls for verification.

When everything was ready, Hadley punched in the cell phone number that only the Hulk’s friends and close associates knew. The Hulk’s cell phone screen said the call was coming from “Amber.”

“Amber. Baby! Long time no talk,” said the Hulk.

Amber’s voice came on the line, and Amber’s face appeared on the Hulk’s cell phone screen, but the message was Hadley’s.

“I just called to say I never want to hear from you again, you jerk.” Click.

The Hulk dialed Amber’s number. He got a “caller blocked” message.

Panicked, the Hulk dialed his best friend Torgel.

“Torgel” answered the call with a happy voice: “Hulk, thanks for the hundred smackers, man.”

“What hundred smackers?” asked the Hulk.

“From your bank, Dude! They called me yesterday and said you’d gifted me a hundred dollars for my birthday. My birthday isn’t until next month. You’re the Dude, dude!” Then “Torgel” hung up. Torgel’s number rang unanswered when the Hulk tried to call back.

The same pattern was repeated for every friend and associate that the Hulk tried to contact: anger and denunciation for supposed insults, or warm appreciation for the Hulk’s generosity.

The Hulk called his bank and demanded that it replace the funds withdrawn. The cashier explained that the bank had the Hulk’s voice on a recording asking for the payments and declined to replace the funds. The cashier bumped the Hulk’s call up to the assistant manager who gave the Hulk the same message and bumped the call up to the bank manager who gave the Hulk the same response using the exact words the cashier had used. Then the incoming calls began.

“Mr. Henry. This is Art Larsen, World Wide Travel calling to confirm your trip day after tomorrow to Estonia. We expedited the visa process by paying the large surcharge that you authorized. Just give the airline your name and show your passport when you check in.”

“Mr. Henry. This is Ollie Olsen, from Peterburg Outdoor Outfitters. You can pick up your new all-terrain vehicle and your camping equipment anytime at our Southside facility.”

Panicked and distraught, Henry Histoid ran to his car, put his cell phone on the cement in front of a tire and ran over it. Then he went back inside and sat down with his head in his hands. A phone rang. It was the Hulk’s land line. He never used that line. In fact he had forgotten he had a land line. The phone kept ringing. Hulk finally picked up. “Hello?”

“Have you learned your lesson about the pain hacking causes?” asked the voice on the phone.

A crestfallen Hulk responded “Yes. Yes I have.”

“Good,” said the voice. “You are lucky this time. All those calls were as fake as the hack calls you’ve been making. The next time you hack a phone that stuff will happen for real.”

“Who is this?”

An announcer’s voice from a bygone era intoned:

“It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s CYBERMAN!” Click.

-30-

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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