They’re out there, just waiting …

My bedroom lamp was ringing shortly after midnight a few evenings ago and – after sleepily answering my bedside clock and revolver – I eventually picked up my phone receiver and was greeted by the mellifluous voice of my old ’60s sidekick, Sapper.

Forever lost in the Summer of Love after ingesting some unidentified herbs near Bolinas in 1968, Sapper is plagued by periodic flashes of remarkable insight which he insists on sharing with the rest of the world – usually around 2 o’clock in the morning.

Last week’s predawn call was no different.

“Lissen close, bro! I’ve been thinking about telemarketers and what I’m thinking is that I’m gonna order three of everything they’re sellin’ whenever they call. And I’d advise you to do the same,” Sapper said emphatically.

Uh-huh …

“Wake up and smell the impending doom, buddy boy. Have you ever thought about who any one of those telemarketers might be whenever you hang up on them after tellin’ them to engage in unspeakable acts with a toaster oven? Well, have you?” Sapper asked querulously.

“Ponder on it, Einstein. Any one of those telemarketers could be a serial killer! They call you up tryin’ to sell you a musical holiday cheese log, and then you, Mister Fancy Pants Journalist, slam the phone down in their ear,” my old buddy declared ominously.

“Even the FBI admits that the country’s probably crawlin’ with undetected serial killers, just hackin’ an’ hewin’ their way to happiness. Is it so hard to imagine that some of those squirmy-brained machete maniacs have taken part- time jobs as telemarketers? Did that ever cross your unusually hollow brain cavity?!”

No, I admitted, but what exactly does that have to do with feeling obligated to purchase a pile of cheese logs?

Sapper sighed in exasperation and then began speaking very slowly, as if instructing a slightly backward third-grader.

“You hang up on most telemarketers and they just go and call 3,000 or so other poor saps with their big holiday cheese log offer. But you hang up on a serial caller and you’ve sealed your fate, bro. Everybody knows serial killers are devilishly clever, easily enraged and ab-so-looot-ly implacable when it comes to revenge,” Sapper continued. “You hang up on a serial killer and the next thing you know they’re gettin’ all snake-eyed and talkin’ to their chain saw an’ double-checkin’ your home address. Twenty-four hours later, you’re Alpo.”

Sapper conceded that all telemarketers probably aren’t serial killers – but it only takes one to ruin your whole day.

“So from now on, I’m ordering three of whatever they’re selling and thanking them for calling,” Sapper declared. “Not that I’m going to pay for any of it. That’d be goofy. After all, there can’t be that many places with serial killers workin’ in both sales and billing, right?”

Yeah, right …

Originally published December 26, 2004

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