One of the benefits of having the presidential election and the holidays behind us is that I no longer have to take the wheelbarrow to the mailbox to fetch the mail.
And the telephone calls soliciting votes and money have eased up. But by no means are gone.
I dont even miss those letters from the likes of Barack and Michelle, the Joe Bidens, William Jefferson Clinton, and even an occasional dispatch from the Republican side of the political aisle.
Im relieved that the affair between my wife and Robert Redford has cooled. His letters, almost weekly for a while, have quit coming entirely. Obviously, he was only after her money.
Solicitations from charities always increase during holiday seasons when hearts are supposed to be more pliable to the pleas for cash. We once received 10 in a single mail call.
I find the tactics often frustrating.
One solicitor offered a deal: Make one more gift and she would never ever ask for another donation. Now theres a deal! But can I believe her?
A number of organizations prey on our conscience by enclosing money in their gimme letters. Heres a letter with a nickel taped to it.
What am to do with the nickel? Of course, I cant spend it without suffering pangs of conscience. Mailing it back will cost 44 cents.
Ill probably send along a modest contribution, even knowing it will inspire more solicitations and add my name to the sucker roster.
It seems we get a solicitation from the Brady Bill organization almost every month.
As many of you remember, this charity, aimed at reducing gun ownership, grew out of the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
James Brady, the presidents press aide, was shot and left partially paralyzed for life.
With mushrooming gun ownership in the U.S., one cant help wondering about the organizations effectiveness.
Sometimes, before responding to a charitys request, I go online to check out the salary of the CEO. If he or she is knocking down $300,000 or more, Im likely to put the request in the deferred file.
I try to be polite to telephone solicitors unless they provoke me into being curt or even hanging up the phone.
But Ive been more tolerant after the reaction of one telephone solicitor whom I reprimanded for calling on Sunday: I have to do this to make a living. All you have to do is hang up!
Although nobody has asked for them, I have a few tips for those who make their living working the telephones and begging for money.
1 Dont call on Sunday. A lot of folks still consider it a day of rest that is supposed to be free of the stresses of the other six days of the week.
2 Dont expect anyone to stand still for a telephone survey of more than three minutes, no matter its purpose. We are a busy and impatient people.
3 When the victim gives you a polite No, not this time, dont keep pressuring. The prospect is entitled to hang up and put you on his or her black list.
4 Dont over-solicit by calling the same people every two weeks or month. Theyll remember and resent your persistence.
For several years weve been harassed by an outfit seeking to sell our time share so we can avoid those ever-increasing membership dues.
Time after time theyve promised to remove us from their call list. You see, we dont own a time share.
5 Dont call between 6 and 8 p.m. Thats usually dinner time. A potential donor wants no part of your spiel when his steak or chicken pot pie is getting cold.
6 Dont request a specific amount, with no options offered. Doing so can turn off a potential donor.
I hope I havent sounded like Scrooge with a hangover. Im sure youll continue to give as generously as you can to the charities of your choice.
But since the governments Dont call system seems to be on the blink insofar as protecting us from the flood of unwanted calls, we have to fend for ourselves.
Snow: 919-836-5636 or firstname.lastname@example.org