Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Punching Down the Human Pop-Up Ads

My wife works in a field that requires her to see several patients a day. It's one of the reasons she picked that career; inexplicably, she seems to like people. (Have you heard that opposites attract?) Unfortunately, a trend over the last few years is just about ready to ruin that part of the business for her, not to mention drive us both batty: home-based businesses.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm all for people being self-employed. In fact, given my druthers and a better health insurance situation I'd say we should pretty much all be independent contractors. But I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about "home-based businesses" like Mary Kay, the various "Crazy-Expensive Decorations for Your Home" catalogs, Amway, noni juice, melaleuca (or whatever the fuck it is), and the like. You know the scam:

(1) Recruit others to sell crap and suffer under the same quotas (and recruit others...)
(2) ?
(3) Profit

So as part of her job she is forced to suffer through an endless string of annoying human pop-up ads appearing throughout the week:

"Buy my crap!"
"Sell our crap!"
"Refinance your mortgage!"
"Don't you want more money?"
"Need a bigger dick?"

(OK, thankfully the last one is made up.) And unlike pop-up ads which you can block, close, and swear at like a Tourette's-stricken Teamster, these are paying customers. So she has to be nice. Co-workers with Girl Scout cookie order forms are great fun compared to this minefield (and at least then you get cookies).

What frosts my nuts is that these ingrates don't see her as a professional doing her job, they see a potential sucker who has to suffer through their retarded pitch, and they lack just enough class to take advantage of that.

So this kind, trusting woman (what did I say about opposites?) is forced to artfully turn away, placate, and otherwise pacify people who decide to turn a simple meaningless bit of small talk into an uncomfortable passive-aggressive dance loaded with bullshit and desperation. And she has to do so without losing them as customers, and without buying anything.

All of which leads up to tonight, when the scourge of "Incomplete Data" struck our caller ID and put me on the phone with a patient who wanted to pitch us a "home ownership accelerator" loan. I should have said "Forgive me, ma'am, I didn't realize I had to arm myself with all of the latest home mortgage facts just in case some crazy bitch with a restless phone book decides to harass us while we're trying to finish our supper" and hung up. But I didn't.

I tried to brush her off like I would any other telemarketer, which annoyed her enough to make her snippy, then I told her we had to do our own research. Which got rid of her, and had the added benefit of being the truth. (Today's KAR PSA: it seems like you can get the same results just by adding extra to your mortgage payment every month, which we already do. The only advantage is if you really need a HELOC-like loan for some reason. YMMV, of course.)

So not only did she intrude on our time for a phone call, but she got us to waste about an hour researching something that ultimately won't do us any good. I should send her a bill, but instead I'll do the passive-aggressive Minnesota thing and not answer any "incomplete data" phone calls next week. Because I'm complex like that.

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