Last couple of years at this time, the blonde and I have sent our mothers the same little gift to start the holiday season. We order it from a catalog company that specializes in dressing all Americans like prosperous New England farmers. Yesterday I called in to place the order.
“Hi! Am I speaking to Lance Mannion?” the customer service rep said immediately upon picking up.
“Um…yes.” I almost asked her how she knew it was me but I figured the company has our phone number on file.
“How can I help you today, Mr Mannion?”
Yep. She “Mistered” me. How often does that happen anymore? I like being “Mistered” if I’m “Mistered” correctly. Better than getting “Lanced” in a chummy way. She did the “Mistering” just right, cheerful, friendly, but still businesslike and without any pretending that we’re pals.
“I’d like to place an order.”
“Ok. Will we be sending it to PO Box 263, New Paltz, New York?”
“Well, um, no, these are gifts.”
“That’s fine. So we’ll be using different addresses then. What would you like to order?”
“The Traditional Balsam Centerpiece,” I said and I gave the catalog number.
“We have that in stock,” she said, “And it will go out within one to two business days. How many would you like?”
“And who are we sending the first one to?”
“Old---" I began.
“Old Mother Blonde?” she said.
“Three Numerals First Name of an Early President Street?”
“Yes.” I held the phone away from my ear and stared at it. Who was this mind reader?
“Most Strangely Named Town in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania?”
“We’re all set. The next one’s going to?”
“Also Three Numerals Last Name of a Character on a 1970s Sitcom Road?”
“Usually Unpronounceable and Unspellable Indian Name but Amazingly I’m Saying It Exactly As if I Grew Up There Myself, New York?”
“Your order’s placed. And how would you like to pay for it today?”
“You don’t know?”
“Of course I know, Mister Mannion, but I also know because I can tell from the trepidation in your voice that you’re bothered by the fact that I seem to know everything relevant about you without your having to tell me, so from here on out I will pretend that I don’t in order to lull you into a false sense of security.”
“I appreciate that.”
“My pleasure. As I said, your items will ship within one to two business days. Will there be anything else? Again, I know there won’t be until your wife calls us in a couple of days to order the barn coat she’s getting you for Christmas even though you insist you don’t want anything this year, but like I said I know this call is upsetting you and I’m doing my best to keep you calm.”
“You’re doing a good job.”
“Thank you. Have a good day, Mister Mannion, and thank you for shopping with us.”
“You can hang up the phone now, Mister Mannion. We’ll call you if we think of anything you’ve forgotten. Goodbye!”
Ok, I made some of that up.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that they had all that information on file from last year and I’m not comfortable that they do, but as long as they do, I think things should be even easier next year. I’ll call up and the rep will say, “Mister Mannion?”
And I’ll say, “Yep.”
And she’ll say, “Same thing?”
And I’ll say, “You bet.”
And that’ll be that.
The next year she’ll call and say, “The centerpieces have been delivered and your mothers love them, but both of them want to know why you haven’t called them yourselves."