The worst feature of Capitalism isn't the exploitation of the poor, trade union busting, the glass ceiling, or environmental rapine. The most demeaning feature of greed run amok is: forcing retail clerks to push some crapola plan, or special, or upgrade at you as a part of an innocent transaction.
Okay, it's me. Basically, I want nothing whatever to do with salesmen. If I want information I know where to get it, and if I don't I know who to ask for assistance. I can't think of a single thing I've ever been sold, even if I desperately needed it and had to go out in an ice storm to find it on my own. Woody Allen said he once tried to commit suicide by inhaling next to an insurance agent. Woody's an optimist.
I used to be polite about it, and under ordinary circumstances I still am. I don't blame the people who are forced to pitch shit at you when you choose to come into contact with them. It's different with people who call (Indiana's no-call law leaves a few loopholes), or come to the door. I understand folks gotta make a living, but then again, you chose annoying people rather than the more honest trade of breaking into their homes while they're gone. I have a whistle next to the phone ready to blow at salespeople who call and don't immediately apologize and hang up. And I answer the door with a sawn-off pool cue in my hand. Well, not really, but only because my countenance is scary enough in most circumstances. I hate this stuff so much that even if someone came to the door offering a demonstration of Avon's new line of oral-sex enhancing lipsticks I'd have to think about it.
So this afternoon I have to go to the bank. Attractive teller, evidently new, who was personable in a genuine as opposed to a professional manner, so I turned on the charm*. The transaction went smoothly, unlike my recent experiences with trainees, and after I'd signed for the cash I got back she looked up and said:
"Have you ever thought about investments?"
[Sheesh, don't I look seventy years old? They've probably kept me up more nights than you've lived through.]
No reason not to continue making nice, so I said, "All mine are hidden offshore."
[There's always a point where you lose people. I once met a young woman wearing a Herron School of Art tee-shirt. "Herron, eh?" says I, positively oozing charm, "do you know Professor so-and-so?"
"Yeah, I'm in his painting class. How do you know him?"
"We were in prison together in Juarez."
She looked at me like a dog looks at a ceiling fan.]
* "You were wonderful last night, Harold (?), when you turned on the charm," is a Thurber caption I inexplicably left out the other day.