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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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I Don’t Buy It

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There are a lot of newspaper advice columns out there. But what makes this one different is that sometimes, you don’t want to ask an expert. Sometimes you want to ask a regular guy who might not actually know more than you.

If you ask an expert, he’s going to give you real advice, and you have to follow it. But if you ask me, you can feel free to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and then go do your own thing. Like if you ask, “Who’s right, me or my wife?” and I say that your wife is right, you can say, “Well, I’m still gonna go with me.”

People don’t write to me for advice, they write to me for justification.

Dear Mordechai,

If I stand when I eat, do I get fat feet?

S.S., Brooklyn

Dear S.,

I don’t know if this is scientifically accurate. They really should conduct a study. I say this because I’ve seen a lot of people standing when they eat, especially at a kiddush, but I’ve never actually seen anyone with fat feet. It’s not really something you can hide with baggy clothes.

The logic behind the saying, I guess, is gravity. When you eat something, it goes all the way down to your feet, right? You learn that in biology. But I’ve got to tell you: If you sit when you eat, the food doesn’t go down and just stop at… Oh, actually it does. I see what you’re saying now. There really is no good position for eating.

But I’ll tell you this: Sitting when you eat is a good practice to get into. If you have to sit down with a plate every time you eat, you’ll gain less weight, because you’ll eat less often. It’s kind of like the Sukkos diet, where every time you want to eat, you have to put something on, go outside, roll up a tarp, sit down, and then get up and come back in for silverware. And then a drink. And then a cup. For goodness sakes.

Dear Mordechai,

My daughter brings home arts and crafts every day, and that’s great. I make a huge deal about it and I hang it up on the fridge. But it’s every single day. Should I get a bigger fridge?

S.S., Far Rockaway

Dear S.,

I don’t see how you really have any other choice. What are you going to do, hurt her feelings?

It doesn’t help either that these kids don’t make nearly enough magnets in school. For every twenty things they make that have to be hung up with magnets, they make maybe one magnet. And to be honest, it’s not a very sticky magnet.

And then the question is: How long do you have to wait before taking it down? If you take it down too soon, the kid gets insulted. If you take it down too late, the kid gets embarrassed.

See, that’s the good thing about Sukkos — all those projects could go up in the sukkah, and then a week later, you get to take it down. Or, if you’re not particularly good at hanging things, you get to watch them blow away. Either way, you don’t have to insult anyone.

I have the same issue with my daughter, especially in the summer. Arts and crafts are fun to put together, but I don’t have fun figuring out where to put it. It’s kind of like how some people enjoy shopping, but then they come home with a bunch of stuff, and where are we going to put it? We don’t have nearly enough magnets. I say that you can enjoy shopping, but every few days, you should bring it all back. The shopping part is done. Do you love finding places for things too? It’s like when your kid plays a game, and you make him clean it up. He doesn’t love cleaning, but he loves playing a game. This is part of it.

Dear Mordechai,

What should I do about telemarketers?

P.H.R., Philly

Dear P.,

Hang up. They can’t really stop you, can they? I find that the easiest way to hang up is to do it during one of your own sentences. That way, they think there’s no way you actually hung up on yourself.

Telemarketers are annoying. The call comes in, and as when every call comes, you jump up and leap over furniture and knock over kids to get to the phone, which you have to find by sound because you have no idea where it is, and then you pick it up to find that it’s someone who insists that he’s not trying to sell you anything. And they usually call as soon as you sit down to dinner. This is why I stand when I eat. At the ready.

I could always tell what kind of call it is when the guy, right off the bat, mispronounces my name. This guy calls people he doesn’t know for a living, he should know all the last-name pronunciation tricks. I don’t know a single name that begins with “Sch” that’s pronounced “Sk.” Why does every telemarketer break their teeth? Good, mispronounce my name. That’ll make me feel good about this call.

You can check the caller ID, but most of the time it doesn’t say a name for these places. It says a number you don’t recognize, so you go, “I might as well pick up! I already knocked over the whole house looking for the phone! Maybe it’s someone calling to give me money! By phone!”

I get very annoyed at telemarketers; probably because of all the exercise they make me do. If there’s something I want to buy, I know how to go about getting it. I’m not sitting at home, calling up to the heavens: “I wish there was some way to get magazine subscriptions. But how? I wish someone would call!” Or, “I have all this extra money, and no idea what to do with it. Should I shove it out the window? I wish there was some kind of sign!”

Even people who love shopping don’t like doing it this way. This is a very specific type of shopping to like.

Apparently, the “Do Not Call” list doesn’t work. My mother-in-law still calls. And so do all these companies. I have some companies that call every single day to sell me the same thing, no matter how many times I tell them I’m not interested. They agree that their product is definitely not for me, and then they call back the next day.

“Didn’t I tell you I wasn’t interested?”

“No, I don’t think that was me.”

“Um, if you remember me saying it, it was you.”

“Oh. So are you interested?”

I’m not going to buy something just to get them to stop calling. Especially when I don’t believe for one second that they would stop calling if I actually bought it. They’re obviously not very good at taking people off their list.

For example, there’s one company that’s absolutely dying to save me money on a home security system. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you don’t buy a home security system from someone you’ve never heard of, because you’re basically giving them a way to break into your house. I explained that to the guy, and I told him that there was no argument he could give that would convince me otherwise, because anything he said would be exactly what an unscrupulous person would say. So he hung up. Then he called me a few hours later.

“Didn’t you just call me this morning?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

Oh, a liar. That’s someone I want to buy a home security system from.

So sometimes when these companies call, I say something like, “Wow, I’m glad you called!”

“Really?” they ask.

“Yeah! I was just about to call you!”

Option 2 is to try to sell them something: “So listen, would you like to buy some arts and crafts?”

There are other things you can sell as well.

“So listen, my kids’ school is having a raffle. How would you like to go to Israel? Israel. It’s in the Middle East. Seriously, you sell National Geographic.”

Then if they decline, I can say, “I’m sorry, did you call me at a bad time?”

Have a question for “You’re Asking Me?” Send it in. Or you can call me, but be prepared to buy something.

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