Do you have a good way of getting rid of telemarketers?
Answer: You know, I used to be plagued by those little devils. They
would call me morning, noon, and evening, especially around dinner, and
dinner to me is sacrosanct. Therefore I began to employ several methods
to discourage telemarketers from ever bothering me again. I believe I must have
been taken off several lists, since fewer of these obnoxious horseflies have been
calling in the last year. Of course, I have asked to be put on the Do Not Call
registry, so that may have had something to do with the reduction of calls,
- My favorite technique
is to play "hard of hearing." I begin by answering the caller's "Is this Mr. Edward
Anderson?" with a tentative, though loud "YESSSS?....," and then I let the telemarketer
go through his opening spiel. When the poor sod is done, I say rather loudly,
"EXCUSE ME, MY HEARING AID IS ON THE FRITZ. COULD YOU PLEASE REPEAT WHAT
YOU JUST SAID?" If the bugger persists (and sometimes he will), I interrupt him
several times the second time through with the likes of "WHAT WAS THAT?",
"I'M SORRY, I DIDN'T GET THAT!", or "COULD YOU PLEASE SPEAK LOUDER?"
- Another technique I find
effective is to ask a lot of questions. When "Chris" calls (as in "Good morning,
Mr.-uh-Anderson, this is Chris calling for..."), I interrupt with, "Chris, will
you please excuse me while I get a piece of paper and pencil. (Pause for background
rummaging and humming or tuneless whistling). Now, uh, Chris, would you
please spell your full name for me?" Usually Chris will cooperate. Then I proceed
to the spelling of the company's name, the location of its headquarters, how long
it's been in business, how long Chris has worked for the company, how the company's
stock is doing, whether the company is listed with the BBB, etc., etc., until
Chris (or Kris) hangs up.
- I enjoy telemarketers
who start off with a bright and cheery, "And how are you today, sir?" I
let them know, of course. "I'm glad you asked," I say. "You know,
I live all by myself except for my Sea Monkeys®, and hardly anyone stops by
or calls me anymore. You know...by the way, what's your name? Chris, is it? Well,
it's great to hear from you Chris. People just don't take the time to call
to see how their neighbors are doing anymore. Too busy, I guess. Anyway, I've
been having this sharp pain in my right side that makes it hard for me to take
a deep breath, and I'm afraid it might be my liver, but my doctor says it's just
my imagination...." Of course, I do not let the telemarketer interrupt me with
his pitch as I complain about the fungal infection of my toenails, how much gas
costs, how if I still smoked I couldn't
smoke in the diner anymore, etc., etc.
- Sometimes I respond to
an opening line with, "Excuse me, Chris, but I have information that will change
your life!"--the very same opening I use with door-to-door missionaries, fund
raisers, band boosters, etc. Then I launch into my low-keyed, yet disturbingly
insistent invitation to join the Acolytes of the Temple of the Gaseous Vertebrate.
Only rarely can I make it all the way to asking Chris for his home address and
the addresses of ten of his friends so that I can mail them some "interesting"
brochures before he rings off.
- I encourage some telemarketers
until the very end, making frequent, reassuring comments throughout their pitch
like "Wow, Chris, that's fabulous!" or "Whoa, that's remarkable!"
or "How fascinating!" Then when they zero in for the closing, I ask, "I'm
afraid I'm little short of cash right now, Chris. Say, can you lend me
- I also find that most
telemarketers are not terribly interested in hearing about the Martian visitation
to Centerboro in 1955, even though it is The Truth.
- Finally, here's one that
Mrs. Underdunk uses, but which I find lacking in finesse. After the introductions,
she simply repeats "No" at a tempo of 120 to 144, randomly varying the pitch and
volume of each "No" until the marketer hangs up. Of course, you could simply
screen your calls with an answering machine which is what I do during dinner.
Question: Why do you
suppose Mr. Brooks created such an effeminate character in Leo?
Answer: Many of you have asked this question, and I must admit I'm stymied
by it. Perhaps he thought that the irony of the King of Beasts as a "dandy" would
appeal to the juvenile sense of humor, such as it is. Other than that,
you've got me.
Question: How much like
the real Centerboro people are Kurt Wiese's illustrations in the Freddy
Answer: As I have already said, Mr. Wiese never visited Centerboro to the
best of my knowledge. I believe he developed some of his renditions from descriptions
given to him by Mr. Brooks or from family and newspaper photographs sent to him
by Brooks and others. The rest he pulled out of the air. Sometimes his illustrations
are very accurate. If you compare the picture he drew of Mr. Bean for Chapter
3 of Freddy the Politician to the actual photograph of William I
have included in FAQ #17 and elsewhere, you'll see that Wiese's illustration is
fairly consistent with reality. However, his depictions of me and Herb Garble
are cartoonish caricatures mostly, although sometimes he approaches verisimilitude
in his portrayal of me. Mr. Camphor, whose picture appeared in the Centerboro
paper many times, is accurately drawn. Mr. Weezer, rarely in the public
eye, is not. I could go through all the Freddy characters in
like manner, but rather than waste my time, let this suffice: based on my research,
only about 8% of the illustrations are accurate to any significant degree.
Question: In the Freddy
books we read how Mr. Bean peels off large amounts of cash from a wad of bills
he has in his pocket. Were the Beans well-off?
Answer: In Politician, Mr. Bean withdraws $4845.92 in what are,
let us suppose, 1939 dollars from the First National Bank of Centerboro. This
is, according to the story, all the money he had on deposit with Mr. Weezer. In
1999 dollars, this would be exactly equivalent to an incredible $57,941.86--quite
a tidy sum. (If you don't believe me, go to the CPI
Calculation Machine and do the figuring yourself.) Do you have
that much in savings? I certainly do not. I don't know if the real William
was that well-off or not, but he always did carry around a big wad
of bills, and he and Mrs. Bean did travel overseas. Remember, too, that Mr. Brooks
and the Beans were great friends, and Brooks no doubt must have been at least
generally acquainted with their finances. I believe, therefore, that Brooks
did render a pretty realistic financial profile of the Beans.
Short Answers to Infrequently
- Right now "Mr. Eha's Place"
takes up between 4 and 5 megabytes. And I don't know how many words it contains.
Why don't you count them? (Note: By the time it closed up shop on July
1, 2006, Mr. Eha's Place occupied 21MB.)
- To D. C.--Because I like
Canada, that's why!
- The scar on Miss Belette's
wrist is V-shaped. Why do you ask? And I do plan to conduct a second interview
- Occasionally I deviate
from my eating plans. Recently, for example, I have been experimenting with
freeze-dried food in anticipation of the Martian invasion. Freeze-dried scrambled
eggs are awful, I can tell you, and they will not figure in my Year
2000 Eating Plan.
- I really do not
have any more unpublished Freddy manuscripts that I know of. Only if someone submits
a synopsis and brief review to me of such a manuscript will any more appear here.
- The best scenic view of
Centerboro was and still is from the hill behind the old Trumbull place. It's
not a good place to go after dark anymore, though, because that's where the teen-aged hooligans
assemble to "party," I believe they call it.
- It is true that the lunatic
Benjamin Bean had been a clockmaker at one time. And you are quite right:
it's Freddy, not Uncle Ben, who comes up with the design for the clockwork boy
in the book.
- Philemon Prendegast was
a Centerboro J.P. at the same time Henry Snedeker was the constable in the
late '20s and early '30s. I hope this helps your genealogical research, Mr. Prendegast.
- All right, M.W., I'll give
you one of the contradictions that will appear in "Curiosities, Mysteries, and
Contradictions in the Freddy Books" (to be published here when I get around
to it). In North Pole, it is stated that Jinx taught Freddy how to
read. Yet in Politician, Jinx himself tells John Quincy Adams that
"...[Freddy's] the only animal on the farm that can read or write." I think
that all the Freddyites already know of this one.
- Dear P.L.: I have it on
good account that the annual Perseid meteor shower (due August 11) is a result
of a botched Martian attempt to steer the Swift-Tuttle comet into the Earth just
to see what would happen. This occurred, of course, before the Martians began
to fully appreciate the entertainment value of the human species.