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.
March 22, 2015 at 2:36 am
i feel happy that my blog inspired you write this one, which makes an enjoyable reading.
i have known people like your friend mt.rodriguez ,who usually ignore the small pricks and laughs it off. does that mean ,it does not hurt them ?
i have seen bleeding hearts underneath the laughter. what i am trying to bring out underlying contempt which exists in the society who has lost the commercial value. some will admit , some will not , some will call me “grouchy” and “grumpy old man” but i will for sure fight till my last breadth.
telemarketing one is important. however my method is different. i believe complaints from thousands like me there is a law now. ignoring social evils might help individuals or may appear to be attractive but it is certainly not a socially responsible way of dealing those such things.
i am sure your friend mr.rodriguez wouls also agree to this.
March 22, 2015 at 2:37 am
willy rodriguez may not know the serious side of alzheimer’s.
the jokes are ok on the initial on set. on an advanced stage the patient forgets how to eatfood,,the need to go to the wash room – they are with a dying brain which in turn makes them vegetable dependent on others.quite a tragic scene.
well as for the unsolicited phone marketing i am on the same boat and do employ some tactics ( sucessfully ) suggested by him.they are good tips indeed.
March 22, 2015 at 2:37 am
you have made the piece very interesting.the portrayal of your friend brings a comic figure before us..the tips given by him for the post retired people are worth gold.he must be enjoying his retirement with fun and frolic. in the sweet setting of goa.
i wish to read more of your free flowing stories and anecdotes.
March 22, 2015 at 2:38 am
dear sreenivasarao s,
your friend willy is quite a character and seems to have enough time on hand to engage in duelling with telemarketers.
however, like bijaya ghosh, my sympathy is with the girls. after all, they have a job to do and not a pleasant one either.
apart from that, i like your style of writing.
March 22, 2015 at 2:38 am
you write very well. any sales job, whether door to door or telemarketing must be very strenuous for the people who take up these jobs, and i feel kind of sorry for them when i am in a benevolent mood , and itch to strangle them when i am on ‘roaming’.
of course most of us do not ‘like’ them at all. i think your friend mr rodriguez could be engaging the tele marketeers in long drawn conversation out of sheer boredom.
i have a friend who innocently says that he was looking for a zero interest loan and that the call was all that he was waiting for. i have saved some of the numbers from experience as ‘spam’ 1, 2, 3 etc, and disconnect such numbers when they call.
March 22, 2015 at 2:40 am
split my seams trying hard to keep it all in. as usual an excellent narration. hmm have been mr.willy at times must add but not intentionally, unintentionally happen to say stuff that makes the others eyelids pop out and have used the “gimme ur number and i’ll call u back” routine with telemarketers too.
March 22, 2015 at 2:40 am
nice one… amusing and very well crafted. yeah teelmarketers can be real pests …
the allzheimer jokes are very funny though it’s not very funny for relatives.
i liked the one about the good news being that you can go home and foregt all about it 🙂
March 22, 2015 at 2:41 am
dear mr. rao,
this was fun to read.
we have special ways of dealing with telemarketers. i usually say with a thick(er) accent that i am the babysitter and the owners are away. that works very fast!
other times, no matter what they want to sell, we just say we have it all. if they want to know how much we paid, we quote them a ridiculously low price in a very sincere tone. that always causes them confusion and stress.
if i am really bored, i just say ‘hold on’ and put the phone next to my noisy dishwasher. i am gone for the next 5 mins and by then they are gone too!
March 22, 2015 at 2:41 am
dear rao sir
that was a light hearted humorous post.
your friend willy must be having a jolly good time in goa.
the telemarketers can be a nuisance at times, but the thought that it is their bread and butter makes me take a lighter view.
btw, are all telemarketers women/girls ? just wondering since the slant in the narration was towards females…
March 22, 2015 at 2:42 am
very well written blog. you have picked up a casual topic and written brilliantly in a simple language, humorously put in plain words about the main character of the blog, mr. rodriguez.
the goans are most happy go lucky, fun loving people and mr rodriguez must be a typical goan.
March 22, 2015 at 2:43 am
i got your erudite and puranic based comments on my blog ‘ideal to have idols’. many thanks! i envied you for your knowledge of sanskrit. my wide readings about vedas, vedantas, puranas, shastras etc have been in english but that was enough to make me proud about our ancient store of knowledge and wisdom. but that was like playing board-cricket and not maidan-cricket! i must learn sanskrit and make a beginning now!
anyway, when i saw the title of this article of yours on retirement, i thought that this was the only way to get some idea about your identity! you have blanked out your profile! though i was disappointed in such effort, i was pleasantly surprised to read your very amusing piece.
you have a lesson for us here. that is, ‘be amused and amuse others’! and, ‘don’t get vexed and don’t vex others’. that is wonderful! no need to get upset with telemarketeers! they can be our nieces and nephews even! if you are at serious work, you can say some sweet something to the caller and hang up. for example,”baba, i am now very busy. look, your english is damn good and you will be a great success. by the way please don’t call me again! if you do so, you will have to marry m daughter! ” but do we have the patience and goodness to utter even these four sentences?
raoji, keep up your flippant side as mush as your serious side. since you like humour, you may see a few cartoon blogs of mine too!
March 22, 2015 at 2:45 am
dear shri gopal,
thank you for the comments on post retirement– rodriguez way. you revived a forgotten blog.
you are a very generous person. i am not a scholar of any sort. as regards my slender profile which belies my appearance, suffice to say i do not have much to display. the blankness n a way speaks for itself.
the post retirement– rodriguez way. was one among the bunch of about five articles i wrote about life in bombay of the 1960s’ it came after the heart-wrenching story of dorabjee appeared. it was meant as a lighthearted detour. i tried to explain that in the real rodriguez and to place willy in perspective; not that willy needed anyone to defend him. kindly read the the real rodriguez and dorabjee.
i admit the repartee with the sales persons was bit made-up and a bit blown up. the reconstructed manual was not repeated in its entirety on every occasion. it happened in bits and pieces. as you did, a few others too remarked they deal with unsolicited calls quite effectively but not quite as elaborately as willy did. “who has time?” they queried. that is understandable. willy was a retired person living alone and not everyone can be a willy.
after his retirement, willy lived in goa, alone, as you might have noticed. the invasion of his privacy, his panic and ongoing battle with constipation; were real. i cannot think of willy being rude to women or hurting them in any manner. all his life, women trusted him and confided in him and he treated them fairly. it was just banter, no malice intended. willy always respected working women for their hard work, commitment and fortitude.
regarding the flippant side, i did write a few; but lacked courage to post them.
thank you very much for the appreciation and the comments. i value your opinion highly.
March 22, 2015 at 2:53 am
Dear Shri Shyamal, Thank you. I wonder how you managed to unearth this fossil. Here, Rodriguez was a real person whom I knew well. I have mentioned about his life in its next post The real Rodriguez . Please do check. As regards the telemarketing stuff, it was partly fact; partly made up and borrowed. Since the time I wrote this the telemarketing scene and its techniques have changed substantially spreading over to SMS messages, Email Spam and lot other ways. Each one has worked out method/methods to deal with its intrusion.
I am glad you read and found it still readable.