I hate to pick on telemarketers, I really do. They may have the most difficult job I can imagine. My heart goes out to them. But... (there's always a "but")
Naptime in my house is sacred. That's because naptime (when Adam, my one-year-old son, takes a nap, not when I take a nap. Napping may be my favorite thing to do, but parenthood is the ultimate cure for chronic nappers) is the one chance I have to be an adult. While Adam is down for his nap I get to read, and more importantly, I get to write.
Writing is my pretense for being a stay-at-home Dad. Not that my wife needs me to justify the fact that I look after our child all day every day. She doesn't need me to justify anything, much less the one aspect of my life which frees her up to be a fully-functioning self-satisfied professional. I don't want to say that she lives for her work, but it might be true. Not that she's a work-a-holic. In fact one of the things that I love most about her job is that the hours are reasonable. But I found out when she was on maternity leave that if she doesn't get to go to work at least 4 or 5 times a week she goes absolutely nuts. So, while doesn't need me to defend the fact that I stay home with our kid while she goes off into the world to be an adult and a breadwinner, I need to defend it.
I never imagined that I would be a stay-at-home Dad. Not that this is a permanent condition. I haven't always been a stay-at-home Dad (when Adam was born I was a minister) and I won't always be a stay-at-home Dad (this Saturday I take the LSAT, and hopefully by this fall I will be well on my way to a bright new career in law). But right now I am a stay-at-home Dad, and that's a profession which is more emotionally than socially fulfilling. Hence my declaration that in addition to being a stay-at-home Dad I am also a freelance writer (which is a fancy way of saying that I write a great deal without getting paid by anyone to do it, in the hope that someday someone may notice my work and offer me some money and, better yet, the chance to be published!). But to be a freelance writer I have to actually get the chance to write. As such, naptimes, in my house are sacred.
(By the way, I'm reading a hilarious book called Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad by David Eddie, who is
a.) a stay-at-home Dad, and
b.) a freelance writer.
I like this guy already. Anyway, his witty observations about trying to balance those two professions are dead on!)
Naps are easily interrupted, despite the cliche "sleeps like a baby." And, as my son has developed a keen interest in the telephone (as has been mentioned here before) naps are most easily interrupted when the phone rings. So when the phone rings while my son is asleep, I run toward it, muttering profanities under my breath, hoping that it will just shut up!
Last August we bought a brand new Kia Sedona minivan. I've written about it here before. It's not a bad car. In fact, I kind of like it. But it represents two great failures:
1. Once again I was taken in by the intoxication which comes when you walk onto a car lot and realize, gasp, I could drive off this lot with a brand new car. That's twice this has happened. The first time was more excusable, because I didn't know what I was doing. The second time... well... I should have known better. The first new car I bought should have taught me that the new car smell just isn't worth the extra couple thousand dollars that comes with it.
Don't get me wrong, I don't regret buying the minivan. It's - like I said - a nice car. And we got a pretty good deal on it. The dealership offered us twice what my wife's old Nissan Sentra was worth as a trade in, and then gave us a pretty good rebate. But I also wouldn't recommend buying a brand new car given that they lose, what, half their value as soon as you drive them off the lot. You feel good, but you haven't exactly invested your money wisely. Maybe this (aside from the fact that I am now unemployed) is why I never have any money.
2. It's a minivan! Guys grow up hoping to buy a minivan like they grow up dreaming of being a stay-at-home Dad. There's nothing wrong with minivans, and there's nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home Dad (or a freelance writer!), but it ain't exactly the adolescent dream.
So what exactly does all this have to do with telemarketing? I'll tell you. Yesterday afternoon, in the dead middle of my son's afternoon nap, a woman from the dealer from whom we bought our minivan called. At first I thought that she was calling because the van needed servicing or there had been some kind of recall. But no! She wasn't offering any sort of valuable service like that. Instead she wanted to know if I would be interested in buying another 2005 Kia Sedona!
She had her argument all planned out, as though it made some sort of sense after you really thought about it. She said that they were offering an even better rebate than they were when we bought the original vehicle, so if we were interested we could trade in our brand new car on exactly the same car and it might actually lower our monthly payments!
I'd love to say that I came up with something witty or profound to say to her. I'd love to say that I went off on some kind of thoughtful rant about our disposable society which is fueled by an economy driven by the need to consume and a constant dissatisfaction with
a.) ourselves, and
b.) the stuff which we thoughtlessly consume, which
c.) drives us to consume even more because of the combination of the insecurity which led us to consume in the fist place and the guilt which we now feel for having consumed to fill that empty hole only to find out that no amount of consumption will give us real and lasting happiness so, what the hell, why don't we go consume even more to feel better about the futility of life in a consumer society?!?
I'd love to say that I said something like that. But, of course, I didn't. I didn't even muster up the combination of courage and wit required to ask something like:
Let me get this straight: you want me to trade in my brand new car on exactly the same car, and you don't see why I don't think this is the greatest idea I've ever heard?
In fact, I didn't say anything. I just put the phone down, and shook my head. I then looked in Adam's room, saw that he was still asleep, and picked up a good book. By the time my wife got home I'd forgotten all about that silly conversation. I only remembered it again this morning, right after my son went down for his morning nap. But this time the phone won't wake him up because I'm on the computer, and am the last person I know to still have a dial up connection. It does have its uses.
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