Friday, August 15
I was sitting in my living room the other afternoon enjoying a "Murder She Wrote" marathon when the phone rang. I picked it up and a very pleasant young woman asked if I would share my opinions on some of the more weighty issues of the day. I told her I'd be happy to, and began to set her straight on exactly what is wrong with the world and what should be done to correct it.
"No, no, no. You have to answer a questionnaire," she said desperately. "I have the questions right here."
"Oh. Okay. Go ahead," I said, muting a rather involved explanation of why another innocent life had been snuffed out in the rustic hamlet of Cabot Cove.
"Thank you." Her voice became more officious. "Would you describe yourself as being informed on the candidates and issues?"
"Well, I'm as informed as any voter, I suppose."
"So you are a low-information voter," she said confidently.
"Wait a minute. I'm not low-information."
"Where do you get your information?"
"I look at the Internet a lot."
"So you're a sub-information voter."
"Look, I have as much information as any citizen," I said resentfully. "I'm focused like a laser on the issues facing this country, and nothing is going to deter me from a deep, unflagging involvement in that pursuit." Take that!, I thought smugly. "So just ask your questions, and we'll see who's sub-informed!"
"All right, sir," she said, properly admonished. "On a scale of one to five, where one indicates you disagree, two indicates you somewhat disagree, three indicates you..."
"How much longer is this going to take?" I asked as I tried to read Jessica Fletcher's lips explaining to Sheriff Tupper why it was necessary for the librarian to poison the English professor.
"It should only take three or four minutes, sir, but first I have to explain the scale. On a scale of one to five, where one indicates you strongly disagree, two indicates you somewhat disagree, three indicates you..."
"'...neither agree nor disagree'. I get it. Let's go."
"...four indicates you somewhat agree," she persisted.
"...and five indicates I strongly agree. I told you I get it. Can we just get on to the damn questions?"
"Well, you don't have to be so mean," she said. I thought I heard a sniffle.
"Are you crying?" I asked. "There's no crying in political polls."
"I'm not c-c-crying."
I began to feel the slightest bit of regret, but I couldn't help going on. "Well, you sounded like you were crying," I grouched.
"You're my first call. I just hoped I'd do better."
A bolt of self-recrimination sobered me. "Look, I'm sorry. I was just , well, I was watching 'Murder She Wrote'..."
"The Marathon? Oh, I wanted to watch but, well, obviously I have to work."
Now I felt even worse. Here was a working woman, trying to make it in the world, probably never poisoned anyone, and I was giving her a hard time. "I'm really sorry. Can we just start over?"
"No. The rules say once we've had personal interaction with the subject the poll is invalidated."
"Well, for what it's worth I think you were doing a great job."
"Thank you," she said, sounding a little brighter. "Before I go I have to indicate what invalidated the poll. How would you feel if I put down you were being an uncooperative, mean spirited,..."
"...old poop?" I said helpfully.
"Well," she laughed, "I can't put that down, but what if I did? What would you think?"
I paused a moment and considered my behavior..
"Probably agree," I said.