Friday, March 20, 2015

Still Nobody Special (10 Aug. 2014)

            I just returned from some travels and have been reinforced in my views that I am nobody special, but, also, so are most people — both human people and corporate people, as in "Corporations are people, my friend."
            On my travels earlier in the summer, I returned to Miami University, where I taught for thirty-five years and from which I retired in 2006. They are doing quite well without me, or at least as well as with me, and I was generally unremembered and my visit unremarked. In Oxford, OH, a living legend I am not. More recently, I went up to the Chicago area and found myself in the payment line at the cafeteria at the most excellent, if now expensive-to-visit, Field Museum. Finally arriving for the wallet-ectomy for a turkey burger, I was greeted with "Hi-ya, buddy; how's it goin'?" by the young cash-register jockey, before he announced the price. I don't know why — possibly because I was under some pressures on the visit, possibly just getting in touch with my inner asshole — I responded with, "I don't want to come across as uppity, but I'd prefer 'sir,'" which he called me, and was good enough to repeat the price. I wished him a nice day with sincerity, since he seemed like a nice young man, working what must be a pretty boring job and probably in need of as good a day as I could wish for him.
            What I didn't need was a reminder that I was just another body in a cafeteria line and "buddy" to a guy who could've been my grandson.
            Returning home, I got to various kinds of mail I'll get to in a moment, and got to my computer and a chance to check up on The 6th Friend, a movie I'm associated with, and which you should all go out to see if it ever gets released IN A THEATER NEAR YOU!!! or buy on Amazon or at least order from Netflix. While on the IMDb site for the film, I committed an act of autoGoogle-ization, and looked my name up on IMDb-Pro and, perversely, checked out my STARmeter ranking: it was "2,038,949, down 1,443,667 this week." So please hit those Internet Movie Database links and raise my rating: I'm currently the number of people of a good size city away from being anybody in the movie biz.
             I also, though, checked my telephone answering machine and my e-mail, and I await delivery of the usual basket of snail-mail. Even a nobody, or maybe especially a nobody — rich people can buy privacy — even this nobody is getting over a hundred solicitations each week for my time and/or money, or, only slightly less directly going for my time and money, my business.
            Again, I'm no one special, and, if you're reading this, neither are you (really special folk are reading executive summaries and IPO prospectuses and Eyes-Only intelligence portfolios). But also necessarily unspecial are all those people cold-calling me us or sending out e-blasts or mass mailings: each is just one among hundreds.
            So I repeat my call for all of us to get uppity.
            If mail doesn't come First Class with a real stamp and specific return address, if it comes with a misleading CALL FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION!!! — toss it. Let the mass mailers pay full-freight and identify themselves if they want to get us to read their appeals.
            If you answer a phone call and get "dead air," you're almost certainly being called by someone using a multi-dial device. Set the phone down, and let the caller listen to some dead air for a bit, or the livelier sounds of you doing whatever you were doing before you were commercially or politically interrupted.
            If you get a robo-call with anything other than a "reverse 911" disaster alert, also set the phone down and try to keep RoboCaller on the line for the full message, making sure it's a message you don't hear.
            And don't hassle folks struggling to make a living, but when callers or clerks use your first name or "buddy" or "young (wo)man," gently advise them that they can save a syllable and show they really care by saying "sir" or "ma'am" — unless you prefer to be thought nobody special than to be reminded that you're old enough for "sir" or "ma'am."
            You'll be able to think of other things. Remember: In the battle for your figurative eyeballs and eardrums, don't be a noncombatant. Nobodies of the world, arise (it's not like we're busy with anything important)!

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