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FROM THE VALLEY: "Calling All Cars" And Owners

By Tom Valley

“Calling all cars” and owners

When my cell phone rang, the 'possible-spam' alert warned me of what

might be lurking at the other end. The number was not in my contacts. I had a

couple of minutes to kill so I thought 'what the hell!?' and picked up the phone.

(Explanation to anyone under 30 years old: “picked up” is a phrase from the

dinosaur-age when you actually had to 'pick up' the receiver-part of the phone

to answer it. The 'receiver-part' will be explained in a future column.)

The call: There was a brief pause at the other end, then I could hear a

ringing as though I was the one making the call. Finally, some guy answered.

“Hello, ...” I stopped him right there.

“Didn't you call me?” I asked.

“Yes, sir, we did ...”

“Well, then,” I interrupted, “why was I the one who had to wait before you

picked-up (there it is, again) the phone.”

“I apologize for that, sir, it's an automated system.” Note: at this point in the

call, I've often asked the person to 'please wait' while I pretended to need a

moment to place a wet paint brush down. I'd then set the phone on the table and

go about my business with no intention, whatsoever, of ever going back and

listening to a scripted spiel that some jamoke at the other end was about to read

to me. It was my personal way of having them jot down 'do not call (this idiot)'

notation in their little “automated system.” But not this time, I was ready to


“Yeah, fine. Whatever. What's up?” I asked.

“I'm calling about the warranty on your automobile,” he pried. “Can you

verify the make and model of your vehicle?”

“Of course, I can” I scoffed. It was his move. I had answered the question.

Smirking like a Cheshire-cat throughout the awkward silence, I was proud of

my verbal gamesmanship.

He then prodded me for the year and type of vehicle I owned.

“Doesn't your fancy automated system tell you that? I mean if it's

sophisticated enough to seek me out, find my phone number and actually call,

why wouldn't you have that - the most pertinent information pertaining to this

pitch - right there in front of you?”

“Because,” he said. “we just want to verify it.” Not a bad answer. The guy

was well-prepared. Whatever.

“Gotcha!” I said. “It's a 4-wheel drive, 1936 Studebaker station-wagon

convertible with dual carbs and tinted windows.”

Click. “Hello..?” He hung up.

True story.

I only wished he stayed on the phone a minute or two longer. Just long

enough so that I could have asked him a jewel of question. “Do you know the

difference between a scam and scum? 'U'!”

'YOU' ... get it?

And why am I telling you this story? Because I didn't want that hilarious

line go to waste. I didn't get to use it on Spamboy, the telemarketer, and, quite

honestly, I'm kinda proud of it. Albeit, it plays out much better if you hear it,

versus reading it. But, damn, c'mon, give it up! Toss me a bone ... or

something. Thank you, thank you very much. Okay, please, be seated. On

second thought, it probably wasn't that great.

And alright, it's true, maybe scum is a little harsh. Maybe he's just a guy

trying to make a living. A guy simply trying to take advantage and squeeze

money out of poor, gullible senior citizens like myself. Hmm, on second

thought ... scum's fine.

And finally – even though we just had an election – did you notice that I

didn't make any goofy political jokes? Why? Because I've seen too many of

them get elected.

Oh, alright, just a few to rile people up.

* Before I became a politician, people would wave at me with all of their


* If ignorance ever gets to a hundred dollars a barrel, I want the drilling

rights to a Democrat's head.

* I'm surprised the Republicans didn't try to build a border wall out of

Hillary's e-mails. Apparently, they can't get over them.

And, of course, Mark Twain's all-time classic:

* Politicians are like diapers. They should be changed often ... and for the

same reason.

Roger that! Over and out.

An that's the way it looks from the Valley.

The author Tom Valley in a quiet moment.


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