Dealing with Life's Little Annoyances. Entry One -- Unwelcome intrusions.
Junk mail: Pull out all the pre-paid postage envelopes from each piece of junk mail. Stuff each one with a different company's junk mail. Seal and mail. There. Now, you're in the junk-mail business. There. Now, they're in the business of wasting time.
Telemarketers: If you're litigious, log and tape-record each telemarketing call and tell the company not to call again. If they do, tell Judge Judy or a local counterpart. You can also write to the Telephone Preference Service; Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735-9014 and ask to have your name removed from the lists (which the telemarketer may or may not do. It's up to them). But hey, neither of those solutions is fun!
Instead, do what my son does. Hand the telephone to your alter ego, a deaf, 105-year-old man who is irritating, unlikely to ever buy anything and constantly repeats, "Please don't hang up. I'm lonely!" Josh's record for wasting their time: 12 minutes.
Buy, buy, buy?
Door-to-door salespeople: If they're your neighbor's kids, buy something, for heaven's sake! If not, keep the door chain on, open the door slightly and say, "I'm so glad you stopped by; I'm collecting for the Spay and Neuter Your Pet fund. Should I put you down for a 25-, 50- or 100-dollar donation? & quot; You can also try, & quot;Gosh, I'm so busy. If you give me your home address, I'll stop by later this evening with my family, and we can talk over dinner. We like prime rib. & quot;
Your little kids: Every parent knows that children are required to interrupt you several times each telephone conversation (no matter how much they ignored you prior to the call). The solution is to put your hand over the mouthpiece and whisper, "Sssh! I'm talking to Santa, and he said that every time you interrupt he's going to take something off your Christmas list. He just crossed off the bicycle!" (This can also work with a spouse, like "He just crossed off your big screen TV!")
House guests: Benjamin Franklin said, "Fish and visitors stink after three days." You can hardly be blamed for wanting to oust Cousin Edgar after three weeks. The simplest way to handle it is to say, "Eddie, ol' boy, got a couple bucks for gas? I don't have any cash on hand." And lead up to, "I seem to be a little short on the mortgage payment this month. Thank heaven you're here, Edgar."
The waiting game
Waiters who constantly interrupt: Give up on your conversation and devote yourself entirely to drawing the waiter back to the table. When the waiter magically appears to fill your water glass, insist, "Just fill it halfway, please." Then drink the glass empty. When he returns say, & quot;Just halfway. & quot; (Repeat until you, or the plant next to you, can drink no more.) Never ask for anything in groups of two or more. For example, if you want steak sauce and another napkin say, "Would you bring me another napkin, please?" When you get the napkin, immediately say, "May I have some steak sauce?" You can also look around a lot and raise your pointer finger in the air. When the waiter shows up and asks, & quot;Can I get you something? & quot; look confused and say, "No." Wait a couple of minutes and repeat.
Police officers: Take out your wallet, flip it open and say, "Scotty, beam me up." Or keep your mouth shut, hand over your license and registration and stop speeding!
Movie talkers: You can try the traditional, "Ssssh!' or an abrupt, "Shut up!" These are terribly unpleasant, however, and will leave you feeling like you ran over a dog. A better solution is to join happily in their conversation. Lean your arm over the seat back and say, "Uh-hmm, uh-hmm, uh-hmm." Then gasp loudly, "Did you say hemorrhoid surgery? Could you speak up a bit?"
More later ...