Rainy Day Rant
It's a rainy day, and the world is a little grayer today. Yet, because spring has finally arrived, it's also kind of cool. Daffodils and early tulips are nodding their heads in deference to the raindrops; Japanese Maples and other deciduous trees have that early spring green look about them as their new leave unfurl. And the birds, the song birds are back, joining the mourning dove couples hopping from tree to tree as they build new nests for the season. Even saw the goldfinches today.
So also because it is Saturday, I am, or was enjoying some quiet, reading a book. No computer, no e-mail, no real noise whatsoever save the sound of turning pages.
The phone rings. I answer.
A female voice asking for me. She gives her name, stating she is calling from the Philadelphia Orchestra. (I am doing her a favor and not stating the name she gave)
Inner groan. A sales call. The kind “Do Not Call” lists can't eradicate: the charitable phone solicitation. OK yes, sorry to be a crab, but I HATE sales calls. They are intrusive. (Yes, but sorry, I don't think any of us today have enough free time just to veg and enjoy a little peace and quiet)
Of course, this woman launches into the beginning of her pitch.
“ So [insert caller name], is this a sales call?” I ask politely.
It's like she can't bring her head up from the script and pause for breath, as she keeps on going. It's like she didn't hear me.
Arrrghhh, a bulldozer call. So I say next: “I said [insert caller name] is this a sales call? It is a simple yes or no question?”
“I'm blah, blah and I am calling to see if you received your brochure you ordered – it's a simple yes or no question.” Ms. Smart Ass/insert caller name replies.
“What is your name again?” I ask, thinking I could NOT have possibly just heard that out of the mouth someone asking me for money. Ms. Smart Ass/insert caller name hangs up.
Ms. Smart Ass/insert caller name should have thought of caller ID. Or the thought that some day someone would get irritated enough to call back. Oh and one other thing, I never requested a brochure.
I did. The caller ID number tagged back to main number of Philadelphia Orchestra. I went through the prompts until I got a ticket services or maybe it was a subscriber services live body on the phone – it wasn't so hard .
I got connected to the subcontractors who make these calls - “SDNA” I think they are. I got a very nice assistant manager or phone bank supervisor on the phone, after the phone was amusingly enough answered by Ms. Smart Ass/insert caller name herself (who probably had a bird that I actually called back).
Anyway, nice supervisorly lady agreed that once a caller offers resistence to a sales call you should politely end the call. Not engage.
Aha, small victory. Metaphorically speaking, sometimes the customer is right!
Now I was weaned on the Philadelphia Orchestra – I first went to concerts as a baby literally in my father's arms. I used to love the Orchestra. Until about ten years ago. Then it stopped being fun to volunteer or even to attend so much. The tickets to special events and concerts were more than any rational person could justify, and honestly? The volunteers left a lot to be desired. These women, because they are mostly women except for the occasional SNAG (read it in a British novel recently - “Senistive New Age Guy”) who might appear on a Young Friends Committee. The new style volunteers are well, not in it for the classical music appreciation and we'll leave it at that. I volunteer because I believe in something, not so I can elbow someone out of the way in the hopes that Carol Springer might take my photo. Or so I can have bragging rights that my better half donates more than your better half. It's supposed to be about the music, only not so much today, eh? And the music the past decade, well let's say it's not up to the standards set by Ormandy or Muti. But then again, the musicians haven't played for anyone like they played for those two since Muti and Ormandy held the baton....
So I stopped volunteering, after 9/11 actually. 9/11 made me evaluate, like many others in this country, how and where I volunteered. Volunteerism is a big deal to me, and I took a good look around and decided to go local. Why? Not because I don't love the Philadephia Orchestra and her marvelous history, but because there are so many great ways to volunteer time in your community with smaller non profits, historic houses, local arts scene – and these smaller groups? They truly appreciate their volunteers and it's just more real. It's not the BS. The Philadelphia Orchestra seems to value more just the checkbook and not the actual volunteer and what they might do – now maybe a bunch of tongues will wag over that statement and feathers will be ruffled, but you know what? Suck it up, it's my opinion – prove me wrong, not right, change my opinion, capice?
This is why I am so positive on things like our local arts centers out here, our historical societies, preservation groups, and yes, the local arts scene. I grew out of the traditional, and while I will always appreciate it on some level for the beauty of it on the artisitic level, gotta admit, don't miss it. When you go local, if you write a check it's easier to see where your hard earned dollars go. And when you volunteer? It's a lot more fun, more real, more relaxed. And you have, especially with the arts, the fun rush of discovering a really fabulous new muscian or budding artist. And truly local supports your own community. As in where you live and spend most of your time.
But the Philadelphia Orchestra and these calls and the constant push for “gimme, gimme, gimme” in all medium – mailers, e-mails, whatever gets to me. Where does all the money go to, anyway? They are a HUGE non profit and if the Philadelphia Musuem of Art can publish comprehensive annual reports that lay it out, why not the Orchestra?
And as for these charitable solicitation calls? I think you should be able to opt out of them like you can opt out of traditional solicitation calls on a “Do Not Call” registry.
This group who dial for dollars with the Orchestra? SDNA or whatever? They also do calls for the Opera Company and other large non-profits. Those people on the phones are often the public's first exposure to the non profit. Shouldn't the experience be polite and pleasant, not negative? If someone doesn't want to take a solicitation call shouldn't that be the end of it? Shouldn't they go on a “Do Not Call” list somewhere and they call it a day?
It's a tough economy out there, I get that. But you know what? These calls are annoying. And the people making the calls have to know when to cut their losses and get off the phone politely and apologetically for invading someone's quiet time on a weekend.
After all, you never know when someone is going to call back. And if they do, the non profit should want positive not negative feedback.
Rant over. Thanks for listening.