After I read Ratan Datta’s piece on retimerement and its aftereffects, I mentioned it to my old friend and former colleague Rodriguez and enquired how the post retirement life was treating him. He, in his characteristic delightful manner, told me how he and life were treating each other. Before I go on to what he said I must tell you about my friend Rodriguez.
Willy Rodriguez was a jolly good Goan who imbibed all the enviable virtues of its delightfully relaxed way of life. Earlier in our lives, we worked in a Bombay based company that has since been taken over by a predator corporate company, as it usually happens in today’s dog-eat- dog business world. Rodriguez was a great sport and made life bearable in that dreary sweatshop called office; Yet, his PARs screeched and groaned like an old T-Model Ford and did not carry him further in his career. Outside of office, we were good friends though we were dissimilar in almost everyway.
Rodriguez had a way of “small-talking” with girls’; god’s gift as a swap for success in life, he said. Everyone affectionately called him Willy. The young and not- so- young lasses in the office scrambled through their work, dodged the mean, snarling watchdog, the boss, just for a snippet of friendly advice and “small talk” with Willy. He was the unpaid resident councilor of woe struck girls. Even the girls from neighboring offices stole time or sweet-talked their bosses for a short “time-off”; and hurriedly emptied their woes and heartaches into Willy’ s attentive ears, doleful eyes and gratefully grabbed his words of comfort and cheer; and hurriedly vanished back to their little desks.
For the young men, most of whom came from small towns and never in their “respectable “rustic life had heard a “bad-word” uttered so nonchalantly, Rodriguez was a wonder and a delight. They eagerly hung on his words and stories and repeated them elsewhere for the amazement and delight of their friends. Rodriguez was a treasure house of ribald stories, of cheating wives, their two timing sisters, lecherous bar-sharks poaching on not so-sober lonely hearts and of local Casanovas with their refined traps and tricks. He had a story to suit every taste and every occasion. He had a fair collection of ribald limericks, as a back up.
Globalization has not spared the retired or even the semi retarded. It haunts you even in your home. One of the perils of retirement is being homebound during the day. You are a sitting duck for telemarketers and credit card vendors who tempt you and torment you with unsolicited offers.
Willy was hurt; he was robbed of his life and privacy. He wondered how the details of his chores and constipated bowl movements (or lack of it) were known to the agents of multinationals sitting in Bombay or elsewhere. He suspected an across the border conspiracy and “foreign hand”. They seemed not only to know when you are home, but also when you are eating, taking your bath or just sitting down to relax with a cold one and worst of all when you are locked in a grunting fight with an unyielding piece of your own miserly intestine.
Willy gave a serious thought and came up with a game plan. According to Willy, with his methods and with a little bit of play-acting and creativity, any healthy minded retired person would look forward to calls from credit card and marketing agents.
This is Willy’s manual for dealing unsolicited marketing:
Usually all such callers ask, “How are you today?” in their effort to cement a close and lasting bond.
Tell them. “Thank you for asking,” you spout. “My arthritis is killing me, I have gout in my left ear, and my eyelashes are sore. Did I tell you about my appendectomy last month? I think it’s growing back.”
Tell them about your just deceased pet, whom you loved more than life itself. Don’t omit details, especially every eulogy, word for word, at Dido’s elaborate funeral.
If they survives this deluge, engage them in a little sweet talk. Enquire about their work, sympathize and say it must be very difficult for to market in these days of “cut throat competition” etc. “How long have you been with the company? Is your work driving you up the wall? How much money do you make?” and innocently ask ”How has your boss been treating you? Is he OK with you? Does he trouble you in any manner.. You know what I am saying” .You get the idea.
You talk about business for a while; suddenly as if inspired, you want to help . Then in a soothing friendly tone redirect them to some of your more affluent friends who, you tell them ”surely will help your sales and that should be useful to you.” After they thank you, ask them to take down some names. Then, depending on wherethey hail from, suggest long winding names or names hard to spell; such as Magdalena Aubrey Menlo Santos Almeida, Agostinha Rafael Maximiano Rasquinha, Tirukkovillur Vaidyalingeshwaran Iyer and Arunachala Kadambavana Sundari Prasunnamba Kanyaka.
When they are out of breath repeating those unpronounceable names , help them lovingly by spelling it forthem, “Let’s see,” you say with deliberate lethargy, “that’s B as in bad ass, A as in avoirdupois, R as in wretched, and B as in bye-bye.” As you mumble your way through the long winding torment, he/she is gasping for breath and sanity, is desperately seeking an exit like a trapped mouse and dying to say the famous last words “How do you rate this interview on one to ten?” Have sympathy for the hard working people . Give nine out of ten.
A telemarketer called today
and when I answered with “Hello,”
she asked, “Is Mr. or Mrs. Murray in?”
It’s someone who’s trying to sell.
“How are you?” they begin,
And then begins my sin
Of wishing they would go to hell.