GOOD EVENING, I’M SAM JONES WITH MARKETING INNOVATIONS, A NATIONAL RESEARCH COMPANY. MAY I PLEASE SPEAK WITH THE HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD?
Well, that would be me. Who is this?
SAM JONES, WITH MARKETING INNOVATIONS. WE ARE CONDUCTING A BRIEF SURVEY ABOUT THE SERVICE YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR ELECTRIC COMPANY. AT NO POINT WILL I TRY TO SELL YOU ANYTHING, AND THIS CALL MAY BE MONITORED FOR QUALITY ASSURANCE.
Okay. Well, I’m watching the football right now, though.
SIR, WE WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR OPINIONS AND AT NO POINT WILL I TRY TO SELL YOU ANYTHING. NOW FIRST, WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE ELECTRIC COMPANY THAT DELIVERS ELECTRICITY TO YOUR HOME?
Oh. Well, BIFCO. And we’re perfectly satisfied with it.
NOW, HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN DECISIONS RELATED TO HOME ENERGY COSTS AND ELECTRIC BILL PAYMENTS? ONE, YOU MAKE THE DECISIONS —
Mary, get off the phone. I’m on the phone.
Who is it? Who are you talking to?
Mary, I’m doing a survey. Get off.
A survey? With who? Who wants your opinions?
ONE, YOU MAKE THE DECISIONS BY YOURSELF. TWO, YOU MAKE THE DECISIONS WITH SOMEONE ELSE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD. THREE, SOMEONE ELSE —
Who is this? What decisions?
Mary, for Christ’s sake, get off the phone. Sir, I make the decisions myself.
THANK YOU, SIR. AND NOW, ON A SCALE FROM ZERO TO TEN —
Now that’s a laugh. Mister, my husband’s answer is, he makes the decisions with someone else. If he made all the decisions we’d be living in a swamp by now, eating swamp food.
UM, MA’AM. UNFORTUNATELY, WE CAN ONLY ACCEPT RESPONSES FROM ONE RESPONDENT AT A TIME, AND SO CAN ONLY ACCEPT RESPONSES FROM YOUR HUSBAND AT THE MOMENT, BUT WE WOULD BE HAPPY TO CALL BACK LATER AND COMPLETE THE SURVEY WITH YOU.
See? Get off the damn phone — you’re mucking up the survey.
What do you get for doing this survey, anyways? Are you guys sending us a cheque?
MA’AM, THIS IS A CHANCE FOR YOUR HUSBAND TO SHARE HIS FEEDBACK WITH YOUR ELECTRIC COMPANY, SO THAT THEY MAY IMPROVE THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. NOW, SIR, ON A SCALE FROM ZERO TO TEN, WITH ZERO MEANING VERY UNFAVOURABLE —
Of course you would be doing this for free, Hal. As soon as work is to be done that doesn’t pay anything, you go running right for it like it’s an ice cream truck. Mister, what’s your name?
Mary, you are wasting this man’s time. He’s just trying to do his job here. Get off the phone.
MY NAME IS SAM JONES, FROM MARKETING INNOVATIONS. NOW, SIR, TEN MEANS VERY FAVOURABLE, AND YOU CAN USE ANY NUMBER IN BETWEEN. SO HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE SERVICE YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR ELECTRIC COMPANY, BIFCO, ON THIS SCALE?
Listen, Sam. I’m the one who pays the electric bill; my husband doesn’t know anything. I’m the one slaving away at the bank, while Hal here decides he’s going to make this website for people going on fishing trips.
Mary, Jesus — he doesn’t need to know all this. Now let me just answer his questions and —
But listen. It’s this great website, and Hal knows all the spots. He lists all the good fishing spots and has all these tips and so forth, but everything’s for free. I keep telling him to charge people to log on to the website, because he could make good money, and I wouldn’t have to pick up extra shifts at the bank, but no. He says good fishing is everyone’s right, and —
Sam, my answer is ten. I’m perfectly satisfied with my electric company.
THANK YOU, SIR. AND NOW, ON THE SAME SCALE OF ZERO TO TEN, HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR ELECTRIC COMPANY, BIFCO, ON KEEPING RATES AS LOW AS POSSIBLE?
Now hold on, Sam. My husband doesn’t pay the bills; I do. His answer is five for your last question. I’m not perfectly satisfied. We’ve had problems with our bill a few times —
MA’AM, UNFORTUNATELY WE CAN ONLY ACCEPT RESPONSES FROM ONE RESPONDENT AT A TIME, BUT WE WOULD BE HAPPY TO CALL BACK LATER AND COMPLETE THE SURVEY WITH YOU.
Mary, get off the damn phone and stop giving this man a hard time. Sir, my answer is ten. We are perfectly satisfied. And my website is free for users, but I am in the process of organizing sponsors to pay for advertising space. And then it will be somewhat profitable, though that isn’t the point.
You’ve been getting these sponsors together for two years now, Hal! You just say that to shut me up. I know you spend all your time updating the maps and guides, so people can leech off your knowledge for free. Meanwhile, I’m getting a hunchback from standing on that concrete floor behind the till, trying to keep up with our mortgage —
Sir, the rates are a ten. My answer is ten.
THANK YOU, SIR. NOW, ON A SCALE FROM —
Sam, his answer is not ten, it’s five. He may use all the electricity because he’s at home all the time with the computer fired up, but I’m the one paying the bills.
Mary, did you hear the man? He’s asking me the questions, not you. And for Christ’s sake, I’m retired — not out of work. It’s my pension that’s paying our bills. You think we could live off your piddly two or three shifts at the bank? Will you hang up?
AND ON A SCALE FROM ZERO —
Your pension? Ha! Every cent of that pension goes towards the damn Webster debt.
Sam, are you there?
SIR, IF WE COULD JUST GET BACK ON TRACK.
Webster was a great idea.
So, Sam. Hal had this genius idea to hook up a top-of-the-line webcam to his fishing boat, and have this live stream of him touring the spots on his website. But he brings his jackass friend Larry, who of course knocks the thing into the water with his paddle as soon as they set out.
That’s not how it happened!
And so the two idiots spend the whole day trying to find Webster in the lake, and when they do, he’s busted. So that’s a couple thousand dollars well spent. And you know what I think, Sam? Have you seen that Brokeback Mountain?
God, Mary. Don’t get started on that again.
OKAY, SO I THINK WE’RE GETTING A LITTLE OFF TRACK HERE. IF WE COULD JUST —
So, Hal and his friends are going up to the lake all the time, and it’s just the guys. And I don’t know, you never know these days. I think the whole website thing is just a sort of hookup site. It’s all a front. Just like I saw this thing on the CBC about these scuba shops. They’re all drug fronts.
Mary, please. What are you even talking about?
It’s true. They hide these clues in the shop’s sign, or in the murals they have painted on the building wall. Like, there are these beautiful ocean scenes with sea turtles and octopuses — or octopi? But the sea turtle will have this subtle marijuana joint in its mouth, or the diver’s eyes will be all red beneath the mask.
That is ridiculous.
I saw it on television, Hal. And then these guys know they can go into the shop and ask to buy drugs. It’s a whole thing.
Okay, that’s enough now. Hang up the phone, please. Sam, are you there? What’s the next question?
. . .
I think he hung up.
Are you there? Mary, look what you did. Is he even allowed to do that? I thought the cardinal rule with these telemarketing operations was you can’t hang up on people. He abandoned his post.
Oh, who cares. You weren’t getting paid for doing the survey; he was. Anyways, what do you want for dinner, Hal?
I don’t know. What do we have in the fridge?
I think there’s still ham. We’ll figure out something. Just meet me in the kitchen in five minutes.
All right, see you there.