The other day, I mentioned the telemarketers and how I am now not allowed to answer the phone. We have a lot of telemarketers calling right now, as the Washington State primary is next week. Without getting too much into politics, I can tell you that my husband and I are very different in our political views. We were political science majors in college when we met, so these differences have led to very spirited conversations throughout the course of our relationship. I won't say who is what, but let's just say that there have been wars fought over which candidate's sign gets put on the front lawn or who won't ride in who's car if there is a certain bumper sticker on the back. Of the two of us, my husband is far more active in his party's political activities. He makes frequent campaign donations, attends caucuses (we are a split caucus/primary state), and political rallies. I used to do all of that, but got kind of tired of it a few years ago.
Anyway, because of his activity, he gets a lot of phone calls from the party activists, looking for votes for the candidate of choice. Consequently, I get these phone calls when I pick up the phone. First off, I think a lot of these phone calls are pretty funny. I know from personal experience that about 90% of the callers are high school and college kids that honestly couldn't care less. They are paid a decent amount per hour to make these calls and read the script. The other 10% are the truly dedicated, very passionate party liners. If you get one of the former, you can almost instantly tell from the monotonous way the message comes across. They are polite and take any refusals easily. If you get the latter, any attempts at shutting down their political message will be met with a mix of indignation and disbelief - remember, they are calling a residence which their records show believes in and supports their party.
Usually, I have fun with these types of calls, especially if it's a die hard activist. I have had no trouble in the past questioning some of their bold statements and exaggerations (both parties, by the way, are guilty of this behavior, it is their way of making sure a would-be supporter gets to the polls. I then love asking them how they got my name and delight in informing them that while my husband supports their political message, I am currently undecided. Oooh! An undecided voter! Even the $11/hour crowd gets excited for that.
Now, pregnant, I don't have the heart. I imagine the poor underpaid college student, just trying to get by. So, I listen and let them go on and on and promise they have my vote. If it's a party activist, I am no better, imagining the scary world that they are promising will come, should the other party's candidate come into office. I don't want my baby growing up in that world!
The worst is telemarketers asking for money for things like the Policemen Widows Fund, American Red Cross still looking for money to help Katrina victims, or the World Childrens Association, wanting you to adopt a hungry child for just 2 cents a day. Now, don't think me heartless. My husband and I donate to various charities throughout the year. We research the organizations that we donate to, making sure the moneys donated are used appropriately. We also volunteer our time to several community projects. I have always felt that it is my civic duty to give back to people that have not been as blessed as we have. But some of the time, those telemarketers are representing organizations with a hidden agenda (the Policemen Widows fund is actually a political action committee - the money is not going to the poor widows of fallen heroes). In our state, if you want to give money to widows of police officers, then you can do so directly through the union or officer's guild. But I didn't think of that and donated money because I could only think of the poor women without their husbands, the sweet children without their fathers. I cried as I read off our credit card number.
The first few donations, my husband kind of shrugged off as I made the dramatic case for why we had to donate to the Feral Cat Society (poor kitties!) or the Homeowner's Association (but they need money to keep our neighborhood safe). But when our latest credit card bill came, he was surprised by how much my pregnant hormones had decided to give. And even if it was a worthy cause, we have a monthly budget that we stick to, which my donations were far exceeding.
Of course, how could he get irritated with his pregnant, giving wife? Really, he can't. So now the rule is that I just can't answer the phone unless the caller ID tells me that it is friend not foe.