So I’m working on my blog, and the phone rings. I pick up the receiver and go,
And I’m greeted by an upbeat, cheerful voice crowing,
I immediately light up. Somebody has just told me, “Congratulations!” That’s never a bad thing. “Congratulations!” means great news is coming. I feel a distinct flutter of excitement. Somewhere inside me, they’re popping champagne.
The message continues, and only then do I realize that that cheerful voice that has triggered my hopes is automated. This is not a real “Congratulations!” I immediately compute. It’s a “Congratulations” Machine! And the next words it’s telling me are,
“The Carnival Cruise Line has selected you…”
Damn! An automated commercial! They were selling me something, and they’d caught me completely off guard. Tricked by a congratulatory come-on.
Now a savvy blogger would have stayed on the phone to check out – and later exact revenge by lampooning in print – “this amazing offer coming your way.” Instead, I hung up. I was mightily upset. I’d been flimflammed and bamboozled.
And not for the first time.
When was the first time? It could have been when I was six, and we were seeing off my grandmother who was taking the train to Miami Beach for the winter, and I said, “I want to go too”, and she said, “Come on!” I felt the same spark of excitement when she said, “Come on!” and the precise flush of shame when it turned out she had no intention of taking me along, but was simply playing a game with an overly trusting little boy.
I also recall a time at camp when I was nine, and I hadn’t received a letter from my mother in weeks, and I hear, “Hey, Earl, you got mail!” and I race back to the cabin, tear open the letter on my bed, only to discover that we’re having a camp-wide program whose theme is “International Brotherhood” and the camp-wide was being “broken” – introduced – this year via letters to all the campers, and that the team I was assigned to was “Argentina.”
It amazes me that my reaction to the “Congratulations!’ call is the same as when I didn’t go to Florida when I was six, and I got no letter from my mother when I was nine. I’m a year over sixty-five! And yet, after decades of being fooled, I retain the capacity to be fooled again!
Thinking back, there’ve been times in my life when I’ve wondered if, perhaps, I wasn’t in fact awkward and uncoordinated, I was merely left-handed, and they’d forgotten to tell me.
Setting aside the transparent gullibility, could it it possible that, unbeknownst to myself, I am actually an optimist?
The evidence seems to point in that direction. How else to explain my erupting euphoria at an automated