Before You Play Your Quarter in the Power Game

Here at mighty Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company of North America, the members of our sales force are assigned particular regions in this country and Canada. I can't be sure, but I'm guessing this concept isn't new to any of you. Even if it was I'll bet you wouldn't have too much difficulty sussing it out. Now, I know I'm addressing a superior demographic here, but it's not like we communicate exclusively in Esperanto or mathematical formulae or anything like that; which is to say, if we get it, others should as well.

And if they don't, we get to laugh at them. So, this guy calls CDTCNA and asks about a product. I give him the schpiel about how our sales force is divided by region so may I ask where hes calling from? There's this pause, and it goes on for a while. Then the caller finally says, "North America."

North America? Well, okay. CDTCNA is passing itself off as this big global deal lately, so I suppose "North America" is just barely not the stupidest thing I've heard come out of a caller's mouth lately. Besides, "Have you changed your phone number?" is awfully hard to beat. So I probe a little further.

"Which part of North America, please?" I say, and am met with an even longer pause. Finally, "The Northeast."

This is enough information to get him to salesperson Mark, but now he's got my goat. "Northeast" indeed. He's behaving like one of those callers to "Loveline" (which I must emphasize I listen to for purely scientific reasons) who can't remember their aliases. Those conversations are great. They usually go something like this:

Dr. Drew, "Tom?"
Silence.
Adam Corolla, "Tom?"
Silence.
Dr. Drew, "Person calling himself 'Tom'?"
Caller, "Yeah!"

These dialogues are followed by five or six minutes of Adam Corolla ranting about how this is radio for crying out loud if you're going to make stuff up why don't you make just yourself a cheat sheet or write your pretend name on your hand or something I swear to God we have the stupidest callers in the world. This kills me, every single time.

So anyway, I painstakingly drag tiny bits of information out of my caller, and I'm getting an image of him looking like Elisha Cook, Jr. all shifty eyed under bright lights in a dark room...and I'm liking it, because if he is Elisha Cook, Jr., then I get to be Humphrey Bogart or somebody equally cool. Oh, I know--Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight. But the thing is, even though the stakes were miniscule--give me your name and state of residence (which was Maine, which explains a lot) or I won't let you talk to Mark--Elisha , by being such a paranoid weirdo, granted me psychic power (in the Adlerian sense) over him.

This is the most ridiculous, pitiful sort of power to have, or to give. I know because I engage in these sorts of exchanges all the time, usually in the role of the paranoid weirdo. Or worse, as I realized when Mr Enigma told me that I'm so passive that people actually start to think of me as furniture. Though I wish that this was just a case of Mr Enigma being a putz, and it was partially that, I recognized the truth in what he said.

But I believe that a variation of Newton's Third Law works in human relationships as well as physics. If you exert pressure on a chair, it will push back and hold you up. If you exert pressure on a receptionist, she will ask you a bunch of questions and otherwise contrive to hold you up. And you should consider yourself lucky if that's all she does. Just imagine what happens when you frustrate and annoy the peons who handle your food, and then try to laugh.

(Written by Sharon C. McGovern)

From Vol. 8
Get Back to Work!