It’s difficult to know what to do with telemarketers. I know some people have their own approach to the nuisance phone calls from them, but few of the responses seem completely ideal. I’m aware that one common approach is to immediately hang up, while another is to issue a stream of profanity and replace the receiver with some force, but I’m not sure how much of a deterrent this might be. I doubt that it stops anything, and the latter technique (although telemarketers voluntarily invade your space) might get you reported to the phone company.
There’s a side of me that is aware of many of these people being stuck in cubicles all day, trying to build a record of sales or donations, struggling to get by in this world. Accents will tell you that a lot of them might be immigrants who need the work, though this might be a misconception from the belief that you are receiving the call to donate to the Canadian Disabled Bearded Motorcycle Repairmen Fund from someone in Toronto, when in fact it’s really Mujubar calling from Calcutta.
Last Friday evening into early yesterday morning, or later on the next few weekends, people will be taking part in the Canadian Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life”. It’s an inspiring, tiring, and often poignant night.
I was in a couple of Relays in recent years. In the first we met at a sports site with a track in back of Yarmouth, pitched a tent in a grassy field with dozens and dozens of others, and were fascinated immediately by the experienced teams who arrived more ready for the event than our team of novice teachers: wild costumes, signs, banners, and enough camping equipment to make the night really special even for those not on the track. We made vows to get more “geared up” the next year.
If you’re not familiar with the relays, the procedure is that you have to form a team of at least ten, and be prepared to have at least one member of the team (usually a few) walking on the track at all times for the next 12 hours– generally from 8 p.m. until morning. Each team member has to raise at least $100 in pledges. We fudged things a bit, since some of us knew that staying awake all night would play havoc with our sleep cycles, and since about half of our team lived in the Yarmouth area and half back here in Barrington. We set up a system where the Barrington bunch started off the night, and about 2 a.m. the Yarmouth half, having grabbed at least a nap or two, arrived as relief and allowed us to get home and to bed by about 3 a.m.
We had to arrive early. Although the Relay portion started about 8 p.m., there were “opening ceremonies” and special events before we started. These were not boring “I’d just as soon not be there” formalities; in fact, the late shift people were somewhat disappointed not to be on hand for them. Some of the speakers were recovered cancer patients, a few seemingly snatched back from the brink of death, and some some spoke in honor of people who were stalwarts in the Relays of the past, but during the last year the fight they thought they might win had turned against them.