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JWR 3.2 - Memorial Day

 

Although I’m not really sure what that means.  Don’t get me wrong, all these sappy commercials and heartfelt sentimental messages to our veterans and armed forces...I feel the same way.  But I’m still troubled.

 

It’s been almost nine months since September eleventh. But you know what, we sure learned to live with it, and we even don’t take it seriously anymore.  Do you try to arrange your lives around these heightened warnings of possible, imminent terrorist attacks?  Because I don’t.  Hey, if they took it seriously, they’d run scrolling messages along the bottom of your screen like they do when tornado or thunderstorms are coming.  Oh, Mother Nature, I remember when you were our worst enemy.  Bitch.

 

Yeah, are we still over in Afghanistan?...Really?...Oh, well...good.  Did we get Osama Bin Laden, yet?...It’s “Usama?”  No shit?  Did we get him?...Oh.  You know, if I was in charge...

 

We got this old lady at work who's about sixty, I guess, who said the other day something to the effect of: “We should have just taken care of all of them months ago.”  You may remember my problem with that: unless you’re willing to personally pull that trigger, shut the fuck up.

 

I also said that Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were going to mean more to me from now on.  (Even though Memorial day is actually TODAY.)  I think I botched those plans and I would have to pin point that at some point between the Jell-O shots and that honey Jägermeister.  I was running out of cigars, I switched from party punch to beer and I got whomped at ping pong.  I’m high as a kite and my teeth are green, merry fucking Christmas.

 

I had to turn down this guy who called me looking for some money for disabled veterans.  I know he thought that he was going to get a hit because I let him go through his whole pitch complete with dramatic pauses as he read his little script in front of him.  And it was a long one.  If I had such a long pitch for free voice mail and cheap long distance calling when I had my sales job (two days), I would certainly not have gotten those four people to sign up, I tell you what.  Then he busted out with the donation figure of a hundred dollars.  I almost dropped the phone.  Alas, I had to deny him and hang up.

 

Telemarketers have one of the toughest jobs, but it’s their own fault.  First, these calls are wholly unsolicited.  They get your name by paying money to a similar company or organization that you have previously done business or had contact with.  Nobody wants unsolicited calls.  Strike one.

 

Second, there’s a pause from the time you pick up and say “hello” to the time the telemarketer has the call routed into their line.  They did not hear you say hello which is why they immediately say “hello” themselves.  Not the best way to begin a conversation.  Now you’re stuck there for a moment wondering, did I call them?  No, dammit, I didn’t.  “Yes?"  Strike two.

 

Third, if you have a name like mine that does not sound exactly like it’s spelled, or simply one that’s hard to pronounce, they fumble around.  Now, if my name were John Smith, maybe we could talk.  “It Mr. Shaboobidoo available?”  WHO?  “I mean, Mr. Shobobido?”  Strike three.

 

But this is not baseball.

 

Most times I’ll simply hang up as soon as I say hello and nobody says anything.  I usually won’t wait around for the chump to repeat my hello.  This is, however, bad news for people like my grandma who aren’t quick with saying, “Zohn?”  She’s from Slovenia and still has one hell of an accent.  It’s probably best she gets hung up on, it’s not like I could understand her anyway.  Man, I used to dread getting calls from her as a kid simply because she would never ask to speak with my dad who was the person she called for.  It was always blah blah blah, in a heavy European drawl until I was able to get in there and say, Let me get my dad.  Then, of course there’s those of you with cell phones.  Hey, cell phones are okay in a pinch, but it’s often rough to talk on them.  My brother sometimes calls me when he’s on the road and he’ll have his fucking window open and his music on and I won’t be able to understand him and he won’t hear me.  Then he’ll pass under overpasses or whatever and the signal will break up and I’m like, just come over.  Saying goodbye becomes pleasing at times like that.

 

But let’s say I hold on the line for the telemarketer to just say “hello.”  So, you say, “Yeah?” or “Yes” or “Hello?”  Now they got you right?  Sometimes they’ll pretend to by your friend.  “Is John there?”  Oh, clever, except that when you are in a case like mine when your roommate is also named John, or Jon, in his case, you must ask, “Which Jon/hn are you looking for?”  (Now, sometimes on cell phones, I guess, this sounds like “I’m the man you’re looking for.”  Boy, I wish!)  So then they may try to get even trickier and say, “John, senior.”  Ooh, clever.  Click.

 

I had a lady ask to speak to the homeowner.  “Can I speak to the homeowner?’  I don’t know, can you?  Won’t even try to pronounce the name.  Click.

 

I had this one guy call me and he had a heavy Indian accent and wanted to speak to Mrs. me.  He said they had a preapproved credit card for her.  I wish I had played around with him a little, all I said was she had too many credit cards all ready.  Click.  I maybe should have inquired as to how a person who did not exist at all was preapproved for a credit card.  Or I could’ve said I did not allow the Mrs. to leave the house let alone have credit cards.

 

That’s all right, as long as these people are fumbling around on the phone, that just means they will be unavailable to screw up my order at McDonald's.

 

But what really bugs me is that we don’t have a better name than “9/11” or “September 11th.”  We came up with Operation Enduring Freedom, but somehow, someway 9/11 sticks.  Yeah, it sticks, right in my craw.

 

I’m also getting really tired of these monthly memorials to 9/11, cringe.  In no way am I saying forget about it or brush it aside.  I would not do that.  If you recall the six or so Ramblings after 9/11, cringe, it was all about mourning and refection and positivity and rage.  I mean, how may times do we have to hear Celine Dion sing “A New Day” or whatever that song is?  They don’t mean anything anymore.  The World Trade Center towers have been all but completely removed, the death toll had been whittled down to about a third of what we thought it was for months, we broke out the bunker buster bombs...

 

That’s all right, we’re moving on.  Catholic priests, Chandra Levy, Israel and Palestine.  Never forget, the next uncomfortable situation is right around the corner.

 

John

 

The World Trade Center was under construction, already towering, twin-towering, with cranes tilted at the summits and work elevators sliding up the flanks.  She saw it almost everywhere she went.  She ate a meal and drank a glass of wine and walked to the rail or ledge and there it usually was, bulked up at the funneled and of the island, and a man stood next to her one evening, early, drinks on the roof of a gallery building--about sixty, she thought, portly and jowled but also sleek in a way, assured and contained and hard-polished, a substantial sort, European.

 

“I think of it as one, not two," she said.  "Even though there are clearly two towers.  It’s a single entity, isn’t it?"

 

“ Very terrible thing but you have to look at it, I think."

 

“Yes, you have to look."

 

Don DeLillo - Underworld

 

Copyright © 2002 John Lemut