The phone rang at seven in the morning. Saturday morning. My wife looked at the caller ID. "New York," she mumbled. I asked her to pass the phone to me. When I put the phone to my ear, a polite but automated voice was informing me that someone had recommended that I receive a free medical alert system. Everything was paid for, and shipping had been arranged, all I had to do was press "one" and speak to a representative. Which is what I did.
The representative's name, or at least the one she gave me, was Daphne. Daphne asked how I was feeling today.
In a very frail voice I replied, "I'm tired."
Daphne said she was sorry to hear that. She went on to reassert that someone had recommended me for this gift of a medical alert system, to which I asked in that same weak voice, "Who recommended me? Was it my doctor?"
Daphne told me she didn't know, but she did know a lot about the medical alert system. It came with a bracelet that had a microphone, and a base that could be easily connected.
"What does it connect to?" I fretted.
Daphne assured me that it would be simple enough once I received the machine and started paying the thirty-four ninety-five a month for the service that would keep the system running. I wanted to know what the machine would connect to. Daphne let me know that I shouldn't worry, and did I have any questions. I wanted to know what the thirty-four ninety-five was for and Daphne assured me that it was the service that made the free machine I was getting work. Did I have any more questions, Daphne asked.
"Just one," I said with my voice finally filling out into full-throated indignation. "How do you sleep at night?"
What sort of vile enterprise was this, preying on the fears and sympathies of anyone dull or scared enough to give up their name and address to a company that would send their On-Star tracking system for the elderly and infirm because "someone" recommended that they should. Or maybe they won't send the electronics at all. They'll just get the personal information, credit card number included, and that will be that.
How do they sleep at night?