Thursday, August 31, 2006

Everyday Mysteries

If you can't find amusement in fast food and telemarketers, you've got no business trying to write an entertaining blog. With that in mind, I offer these recent incidents:

(1) The Mystery of the Dropped Quarters

Earlier this week I took my younger daughter through the drive-through at the Burger King on 73rd in Des Moines. She ordered a small amount of food and I ordered nothing, so the total was $2.37.

I paid with a five-dollar bill, and then as the girl at the window was handing me my change, the two quarters slipped off the bills and clanged onto the pavement below. I smiled sympathetically, but then I realized she was staring at me, waiting for me to pick up the money she dropped. This would have required moving the car, getting out, and walking back into the lane.

I looked at her until she realized that perhaps in the interest of customer service she should hand me two new quarters and retrieve the others later. And that's what she did, but not before she leaned forward about an inch and stuck her arm out the window, apparently hoping the coins would jump into her hand.

That or she thought she was Inspector Gadget.

(2) The Curious Case of the Long Pause

Why aren't telemarketers more prepared to deliver their spiels?

Honestly, if that's your job, I know it's tough and I wish you luck--but for crying out loud, be ready to speak when your prospect answers the phone.

I'm on the national Do Not Call list for telemarketers, , but one of them slipped through last night and immediately blew any opportunity I might have given her to sell me whatever she was selling. How? By not being ready to speak.

Here's how the conversation went:

Dono: Hello?
Caller: (20-second pause, making it obvious a telemarketer was calling) Hello?
Dono: No, see the way it works is, when I say Hello, that's your cue that the conversation has begun. You don't have to wait to speak at that point. And if you do speak, you don't have to say Hello with a question mark as if you're not sure if I'm here or not. Once I say Hello, I'm definitely here and engaged in the dialogue.
Caller: (befuddled) Could I speak to J...M...Dono--
Dono: No.

What possible reason could there be for not speaking to the person to whom you wish to sell your wares?

There's some strange stuff that goes on in this universe.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Standard For Cub Futility

Last Saturday afternoon, the FOX Baseball Game of the Week was the Cardinals/Cubs contest at Wrigley Field. The announcers did a lot of the typical blabbidy-blabbidy, which is to be expected because I'm sure they have orders from the top to make sure no nanosecond passes without their mouths running.

But they also did something that drives me up the wall, something that people within the game of baseball should be smart enough not to do: They misstated the standard for Chicago Cubs futility.

That standard, quite simply, is this: The Chicago Cubs have not won a National League pennant since 1945.

That's it. 61 years, no pennant. For 16 of those years, there were only seven other teams in the league. For 24 of those years, there were only 11 other teams.

That's not only bad, it defies mathematical probability. The Cubs should have won a couple of pennants purely by accident since 1945.

But they haven't, because they're a bad, bad organization. (The fact that they're so suckworthy isn't exactly important to this entry, but I'll admit to doing a little Cub-fan-baiting now and then. All in good fun, more or less.)

Point is, the FOX announcers kept referring to the fact that the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. And while that's true, it's really just kind of the icing on the cake. It is irrelevant to speak of World Series futility when referring to a team that hasn't even appeared in the World Series since 1945.

Now, before the Boston Red Sox won the Series in 2004 (in four games I'd just as soon forget), there was talk of how many years had passed since they'd won a World Series. That was acceptable. It made sense, because the Sox had lost the Series in 1986, 1975, 1967, and 1946--four times since winning it in 1918 (when they beat, of course, the Cubs).

Baseball announcers should know better. If a team keeps going to the World Series and losing, you can talk about how long it's been since they've won one. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, though, please stick to the true standard: 61 years, no pennants.

Next time I hear someone say the Cubs just can't win a World Series, I'm going to point out that they haven't had much success in the Kentucky Derby, either.