Two days ago, David and I receive a piece of mail from a television and radio survey company. David usually opens the mail, and if he knows it's a solicitation of some kind, he tears it in half and throws it away.
For some reason, he left this envelope, which I opened, and in it is a dollar and a letter.
The letter reads, "Thank you so much for agreeing to take our survey. We appreciate your time, and just to show a little of our appreciation, we are giving you this dollar on good faith that when we call, you will answer our questions about television and radio in your area."
I pocketed the dollar.
Today, they call.
If I had a job, I would have kept the dollar and ignored the phone call, but I'm retired, and I have plenty of time.
Arbitron: Hello, this is Caroline [and she reads this long spiel about what they do with the info, in no way will they use my name or answers for nefarious [my word] means, blah, blah, blah, blah.]
Me: Okay, Caroline.
Arbitron: First, did you watch television yesterday?
Arbitron: Okay. So, on a typical day, what do you watch?
Me: Well, in the mornings, I watch the first few minutes of whatever CBS's early morning show is because I am mad at ABC. I'm mad at ABC because I used to watch General Hospital, and they broke up my favorite couple, Liz and Jason, so that Jason could prop this lame actress whose flailing hands, looks to the ceiling, and heaving cleavage would make the Beaver want to clean out the garage. They can't blow up Liz and Jason; they have a baby. Baby Jake -- and he is so cute, and Jason will never be a dad to him because he is in the mob, and it's dangerous to be a mob baby. Meanwhile, they are sending Jason on lame adventures with this character (whose name I will not even give free press too and if her bad acting doesn't kill the show then her wild hands will.) I have written letters over and over to General Hospital's executive producers and tried to tell them why I have quit watching a show that I have loved for 15 years, but they seem to just want to tank the ratings. The ratings are in the toilet. Wouldn't you think they would care about how I feel about their show? I am the consumer.
Me: What is it with television these days? Unless a woman is a skank or in her skives, then she is not an actress. Like my momma used to say -- you can take a skank to the opera, but you can't make her read the program. Well, she didn't say that -- I made that up. I have no idea what the saying is for skanks -- but it should be -- NO SKANKS ON TV. I mean I understand they need a type of balance -- you know good over evil and stuff - and for there to be clearly good girls and bad girls, but just bad girls? The bad girls are always winning!!!! What are we good girls to do? Are we to give up? Buy low cut tops, say cuss words, and be promiscuous as -- what's her name, Lindsay Lohan?
Arbitron: Uh... so, you watched CBS?
Me: That's what I said.
Arbitron: What other channel did you watch?
Me: I think I watched AMC for a little while. They were running this all day James Coburn fest. Do you know James Coburn? He's the tall, lanky, big grinnin' Hollywood actor who was at one time a journeyman actor. He's played more roles than Charles Grodin. Yesterday, I watched parts of Payback, Vengeance Unlimited, Mr. Murder, and Deadfall. Ha. Ha. Ha. I think I see a theme here. He's dead I think. I mean, he was around forever. I mean, dead in real life, not in the movies. He never died in his movies, but he died in other's movies. I think John Wayne shot him at least 14 times in one of his 327 movies. That John Wayne - -he did some movies. Not all of them were Westerns either.
Me: Oh, you're welcome. I like AMC except when they interviewed Sean Penn. Is he a Communist? Seriously, he had some radical ideas. I don't listen to Hollywood anyway, but it would be so hard for me to listen to a man who played the character of Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and take him seriously. I mean, I know he's not that character, but well, he sure could play a stoner well. Plus, I think he's like buddies with the president of Iran. Sean Penn -- not Jeff Spicoli.
Arbitron: Uh, look, I appreciate your opinion, but I have only so much space to write in comments. So, other than CBS and AMC, do you watch other television channels on a regular basis?
Me: Regular? Well, when my husband has the remote, we watch lots of channels. He surfs between the Food Network, Palladia...
Arbirton: No, is it Palladia?
Me: I don't know -- it's an offshoot of VH1. It's some music channel that features bands with random names like Weezer, Silversun Pickups, The Futureheads, or Kaiser Chiefs. Last night, it was the Foo Fighters, not to be confused with Five For Fighting, which I happen to do all the time. It's like that joke about Who's on First.
Arbirtron: So. You also watch these channels in addition to your husband changing channels. Does he watch anything consistently.?
Me: Hello -- he changes channels consistently. Okay, I guess he watches the Braves consistently, but when they begin to lose, he changes to some of those other channels. He also likes the Speed channel. It makes me nervous. The Speed Channel -- who thought of that? Car crashes? Nascar? All revved up is that channel. Gawd.
Arbitron: I assume you mean he changes channels a lot?
Me: Ya think?
Arbitron: It doesn't matter what I think; I need to know what channels he watches on a regular basis.
Me: All of em. He has a turbo remote. Seriously. Are you married?
Arbitron:No, I mean, okay. Moving on. Did you listen to the radio either in your home or in your car?
Arbitron: You don't listen to the radio?
Me: Not if I can help it.
Arbitron: Thanks. Now, is anyone in your household between the ages of 18 and 25.
Me: We don't have any children.
Arbitron: Ma'm. I have to ask the questions in the order they are written.
Me: Okay, but I was trying to help.
Arbitron: Is there anyone in the household between the ages of 26 and 32?
Me: We still don't have any children.
Arbitron: Are you Latino, Hispanic, Spanish, or Latin American?
Arbitron: Are you White, Black, Caucasian, or African American?
Me: What's the difference between White and Caucasian?
Me: Okay, I'll pick one. White.
Arbitron: Thank you. Now, we would like to send you another token of our appreciation. A small gift will come to you in the mail -- about the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee at a local restaurant.
Me: Free coffee?
Arbitron: It's not necessarily coffee -- it's about the same price.
Arbitron: Now, let me verify some other information before I hang up ...
Me: Excuse me?
Arbitron: Yes ma'm?
Me: Will you pass on that information to ABC about General Hospital?
Arbitron: Uh, ma'm? I'm just filling in these little blanks with check marks and little x's. There is no way for me to pass this information on to anyone except what goes in the little boxes. Our company is independent. We sell our information to the networks and radio franchises.
Me: Man. We're both pretty powerless, aren't we?
Me: Never mind. Thanks for calling, Caroline. I'm retired. Let me know what you can do about Jason and Elizabeth. If you're ever bored, I'm right here. By the way, I have a blog I can send you too.
Yo, Caroline -- that is Jason and Elizabeth.
I freakin' love being retired.