26/74: Poll Attacks, part 3

What to do when the pollster asks to speak to someone else.

    NOTE: This will work at home, but will quickly fall apart in any institutional setting. That’s because — as will become obvious — it relies on having several (apparently) different people on hand to talk with a caller. In your house, could happen. But almost every other place has an automated call system; people will get suspicious, in that setting, if more than one human voice per half-hour is actually available.

A friend and I perfected this more than fifty years ago, when we were working in the newsroom of a radio station. When the phone rang, someone was supposed to answer it. When callers were polite, or reasonable, or interesting, we’d talk with them, answer their questions. When they were rude or otherwise obnoxious, we’d play the game. It went like this.

  • CALLER: Your last newscast was terrible. You neglected to mention (whatever it was).
  • ME: I am dreadfully sorry, sir. Please let me transfer you to our (whatever it was) department.
  • OLLIE: (Whatever it was) department. What can I do for ya?
  • CALLER: Your last newscast completely omitted any reference to—
  • OLLIE: Oops, I’m sorry sir, the emergency line is ringing. I’ll transfer you to our European desk.
  • ME: (German accent): Und how might Ich hilfen sie?
  • CALLER: What? I didn’t understand that.
  • ME: Ach, wait ein minute. I must to studio run. Please tell Central American desk.
  • OLLIE (Spanish accent) Buenos tardes, senor. What does it seem to be el problemo?
  • CALLER: (By this time, usually reduced either to laughter or to incoherent babbling. If laughter, we join in. If babbling, we hang up and go back to work.)

You get the idea. If you have a flair for voices, or just the slightest hint of ham in your make-up, you may not need anyone else. You can do it alone.


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