Phone     Phone rings the other day. Guy on the other end says his name is Allen, and that he represents Such & Such Long Distance Company which is offering something like paying me to call Burma any time, day or night.  Anyway, as I attempt to slice into his prepared text, he goes into his “I’m not kidding, this is sliced-bread-without-the-crust” pitch.

So I’m thinking, hold on for a second.  I’m all set on long distance, but thanks for the effort.  In fact, I can appreciate it.  I used to pitch worthless crap over the phone myself once upon a time.  So I’m with you in spirit. But all the while I can feel him winding up for another pass at me.

“Now this is a free service, and we –“

“Allen?” I break in.


“I’m all set on long distance, but thanks for the call.”

“But it’s free, and we are offering –“



“It has nothing to do with free or not free.  Let me ask you this.  How large are your billing envelopes?”

“Billing envelopes?”

“Yeah, how big are they?”

“This plan we are offering is guaranteed to lower your long distance rates.”

“Yeah, but how big are your envelopes, Allen?”

“I really don’t know.  Somebody else does our billing.”

“Do you know how big their envelopes are?”

“No, but –“

“No buts, Allen.  You see, my selection of long distance service is predicated on the size of the billing envelope, not the cost of the service.  I put all my paid monthly bills inside my current carrier’s rather large billing envelope. So If I were to change my service I’d lose that big envelope, and then where would I be?  Allen, I need that big envelope.  So you go send me one of your billing envelopes, and I’ll take a good look at it. Who knows, you might be my long distance carrier after all.  But I can’t be screwing up my whole system just cause you claim to be able to save me a nickel of two while offering the inestimable pleasure of paid calls to Burma.  Allen?  Allen?



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