To answer or not to answer

In response to a  column I wrote about the onslaught of timeshare and car warranty calls, a man stopped me and said, “We answer those calls and ask, ‘What are you calling to scam me about today?’ They always hang up.”

Sounds like a good idea as the holiday season of giving approaches. Many try to tap into the season’s philanthropic mood for funds to tide them through winter. We receive many calls for what sound like good causes. We don’t give. It takes time to research what percentage of the funds go to the needy and how much for administration or fund raising. My friend used to support a program that helps children until they learned how much went for administration. 

Do not rush to give. Take time to investigate first. If it is a worthy cause, the leaders will accept funds after you have taken time to consider before you sign on the dotted line. Trying to decide while on the phone increases the urgency to put your money on the line. It is easy to respond now only to regret later. Unless you know the non-profit or the business, slow down and take time to study the situation.

With so many calls for good causes and investment programs during our retirement years, we must consider the limitations of our funds. No matter how good it all sounds on the phone or TV, we have determined that the simplest answer is, “Send us something in the mail about the fundraiser, the agency or non-profit.  We will read and decide what to do.”

It is easy to be swept up in the pressure of the moment. One can’t help but feel sympathetic through the long commercial using pathetic animals with sad eyes. I felt the tug the first several times, before I began switching channels. The emotional pressure to contribute highlights the necessity for weighing the pressure of promises or pathetic scenes with the organization’s management of their monies  and actual response to the need.

Many years ago we decided our response would be, “I do not make any commitments over the phone. Send me some information in the mail, and I will consider it. And please be sure to send the information in layman’s language if you want us to consider the request.”

Evidently most don’t want the funds that badly. Or maybe they do not want to take the time and money to send me a sealed stamped envelope with their specific proposal or request. If I linger long enough to learn more, I still won’t  commit over the phone. “Give me time and quiet to consider this without your sales person pressuring me. Maybe then I will get the item. If not, it’s because I decided I didn’t need it.”

We keep our guard up. Perhaps too much. When I received a call while visiting with my daughter, to avoid being sucked into a one-sided lengthy conversation, I answered the unknown number with a terse, “Yes?” I just wanted the bottom line, not the reasons for the plea.

It was my grandson on a new phone. We chatted a bit. Afterwards my daughter looked at me, “Miss Dot in manners class said you are supposed to answer with a ‘Hello’ and a smile.” She had a point.

“Okay, I will think about it.” 

I decided that the reader provided the best  answer message for any unknown caller “Hello. How are you? What are you calling to try to scam me about today?”

If they go any further than that, and I might be interested, I will give my standard response, ‘send me a letter with the details.”

About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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