Friday, January 8, 2010


The excited voice on the phone informed me that I had been selected for something truly amazing - the caller's company was giving me the opportunity to have their satellite TV service installed absolutely free, PLUS I could take advantage of their reduced subscription rates for my first three months of service. Wow!

"Thank you, but I'm not interested...."

"This really is an incredible offer," he enthused, despite my attempt to terminate the conversation. "What kind of service are you currently using with your television - cable or satellite?"

"Ummm, neither. We don't watch TV." My thumb felt for the "end" button on the handset.

"Yes, but when you do watch TV, are you using cable or satellite?" The fellow apparently didn't understand my last statement.

"We don't watch TV," I repeated. Then, in an attempt to defend my family's peculiarity, I blurted, "We read books."

A long pause - I wondered if the energetic salesman had dismissed me as some kind of crank and hung up. "Oh." Nope, he was still on the line. Another long silence. "Well, when you watch TV, are you more interested in news programs or in entertainment? Do you enjoy programs specific to a special interest, such as gardening or history or home decorating?"

This time I was the one slow to respond. This guy's clueless persistance baffled me. Fascinated, I finally answered, "Ummm, I'm reading a book about Sarah Edwards right now - you know, the wife of Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan preacher?" Silence. "One of my kids is reading a really fat fantasy book by Susanna Clark named Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which he says is awesome. I think my husband is reading a book required for the leadership-training class at church, but I don't know the name of it." Silence. Something perverse in my nature prodded me on. "What book are you currently reading?"

After another substantial pause, the man found his voice. "Ummm, okay, well then.....thank you! Have a nice day!" Click.

What a bizarre conversation! We spoke words back and forth over the phone line, but never effectively communicated anything at all. Makes me wonder - How often do I "hear" people around me without truly hearing them at all? Or, how often have I communicated something to a listening friend without actually connecting the least little bit? And, how can I be engaged and deliberate in conversations with others, preventing ridiculous dialogues like the one with the telemarketer? How often have I tuned out when one of my kids was talking, because I had ear fatigue? And how many times have I mentally moved on to working out my clever response or thinking through my to-do list when "listening" to a friend. At least this recent experience reminds me that listening must be as active an endeavor as speaking.


Justin said...

That was a great blog post. How interesting how the guy had no categories for someone who reads and never watches tv.

So when you do get your satellite subscription, make sure to go directv and give them our account number. We will both get $100 off of our bills. Woohoo!

Ginny B said...

LOL...I love it...I bet that guy is still talking about you. I cannot stand when they do that when u tell them u are not interested. I usually just hang up on them, but I'm glad u didn't b/c that was great Camille, and so true.

emily said...

Ha ha! Thanks for sharing ... this really made me smile.

I just got back from the Altoona public library ... I think I kept it down below 25 books this time ;)

Seriously, though, some books are definitely the equivalent of soap operas or reality TV. And I read my share of those without a doubt. I don't think there is anything WRONG per se with mystery novels or chick lit, but I do make a point to try and check out at least a couple Great Lits or informative books every time I go to the library. Otherwise I might end up like Emma ... with a list full of Improving Reading and nothing checked off but the newest novels!

You can tell just from reading the backs and looking at the pictures on front that typical paperback romances are probably not just "fluffy," but actually BAD. But what about Christian romance books? I read my fair share of those in my 'teens, and I have to say that I think those can feed unrealistic expectations as well. What do you think? Christian romance -- better than the alternative, or better left alone?

Actually, I guess this question applies to TV AND to books equally. Where do you draw the line between "harmless entertainment" and a serious waste of time? How harmless is harmless entertainment exactly?

Bear in mind that I read a good 4 fluffy books a week, and when I do make it to the gym, I make sure it's at the time to catch "What Not To Wear" and "30 Minute Meals."

Wow! A whole blog post on the comments page! You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience yesterday with a door to door cable company salesman. He apparently hooked his computer up to the apartment and saw that we didn't currently use his services...that kind of upset me. What right did he have looking at that? Anyway, when I told him that we didn't use any provider for television, because we didn't watch it, he stumbled but quickly recovered, "um, well, you use internet! What is your internet provider? I'm sure we can work something out with that!"
He had me there, we DO use internet...who doesn't anymore? (except for the Amish...maybe) But, no, thank you, we already have a provider.

As to Emily's comment on Christian romances....have you heard about AMISH Christian romances? Truly awful stuff. It was in the "best-sellers" category of a christian bookstore publication we got in the mail today. Since no Amish to my knowledge would read such drivel, and that to actually get one of these books required an internet connection (see previous paragraph) I concluded that it was written for normal Christians.
"Winter's Awakening"

As winter winds blow, three young people wonder where God will lead. Amish Joshua Graber is expected to marry Greta Hershberger- but then Englisher Lilly Allen catches his eye. Gretta wonders what has gotten into Joshua. Would Roland Schrock be a better match? And Lilly is attracted to Joshua. Will her dark secret drive him away?

Mind you, this outsells the complete "Calvin's Commentaries" and other great works of theology.



Camille said...

Okay, I have to admit we DO use a television and DVD player for movie night - and about my favorite movies of all time are the really silly ones like Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre, and The Princess Bride. Is there some virture to deliberate silliness?

I hear you on the Christian romance genre. One of the absolutely worst books I have ever read was a best-seller by Francine Rivers. It provided all the sex, violence, debauchery, etc. of blatantly "carnal" fiction, with the benefit of being "Christian" - Why? So that us good Christian women could get our cheap and illicit thrills without feeling guilty? Come on - if we are going to wallow in the world, at least let's do it with integrity...just pick up a Harlequin romance or tune into prime-time TV instead of reaching for the "Christian" version of the same trash.

Camille said...
This comment has been removed by the author.