Reach Out and Touch Someone

by MISSY BEATTIE

I rarely answer the phone unless I recognize the number or name. And any call from area code 202 (Washington, DC) is suspect.

So when “Sam Horton” appeared on caller ID with by a 202 prefix, I started to ignore.

Must’ve been lonely.

“Hello.”

“Dr. Beattie?”

“No, this isn’t Dr. Beattie.”

“Mr. Beattie?”

“I’m female.” This wasn’t going well. Wish I’d said, “Mr. Horton, I’m female.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” She sounded sincere, so I stayed with her.

She wanted me to listen to a recording, one so shocking, so shockingly shocking, she knew I’d be as shocked as she was when she heard this shocking shocker. Nothing shocks me anymore.

I think it was immediately after the gender snafu that she conveyed the name of the organization she represents–Conservative Majority Fund, which I Googled when the call ended. The PAC’s mission is the impeachment of Barack Obama. Here’s one reason: “For ignoring his obligation to enforce the laws of the land in the areas of Immigration and the Defense of Marriage Act.” Furthermore there’s proof of the scam perpetrated on the American public (that birther stuff, again) with this: “Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Cold Case Posse recently conducted an investigation in Hawaii and returned with indisputable evidence that the certificate is fraudulent.”

But I digress. I was on the verge of shocking you with a recap of the recording, when I detoured. I want you to imagine the sound of outrage. Because the narrator was spitting vehemence as he said, and I paraphrase: “Barry Soetoro, aka Barack Obama, is seizing power for a third term as president. Impeach, impeach, impeach.”

After the recording, the woman asked my reaction. I said I knew she was following a script. That she may not even like her work. That she may not believe the message. That I understand we’re in a recession, and that this may be the only job available to her.

Continuing, I said, “I want you to know I don’t support Obama.”

She jumped in with, “Republican?”

“No, no, no.” I told her the parties are the same, and that I oppose the political system— one “controlled by Wall Street Greed.”

Then, I asked THE question: “Do you know who Bradley Manning is?”

“No.”

Ah, an opportunity. “You really shouldn’t make calls about the shocking without being better informed.”

She said, “Okay.” And I almost was shocked.

But I kept going.

“Bradley Manning’s the 25-year-old Army soldier in prison over 1000 days for exposing war crimes. Was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

I told her that Manning disclosed a video of an Apache helicopter in Iraq whose crew killed more than 12 Iraqi civilians and two Reuters war correspondents.

“I didn’t know any of this,” she said.

“Plenty of Americans don’t. Now you do.”

She THANKED me.

“You’re welcome.”

Hmm. I’ve added telemarketers to those I’ll inform—my new activism strategy of disseminating real news to people in doctor’s offices, groceries, lines, anywhere. But with the latest, I don’t have to leave the comfort of my apartment. Just answer the phone, talk with the person who’s dialing (okay, pushing) for dollars. I may even make a pledge.

Soon, I’ll mention more than Bradley Manning. I’ll bring up Fallujah. “Have you heard of Fallujah, the massacre, the rise in birth defects?” And sanctions. “We’ve placed sanctions on Iran. Do you know that 500,000 Iraqi children died because of US sanctions on Iraq during the 90s?” The military/security budget. US Empire. “Do. You. Know?”

Think about it. Often, when you receive these calls, you hear, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance.”

Insist on it. “Please do. Tell your supervisor to tell her/his supervisor to listen. Use the recording as a teaching tool.”

There’s so much to cover. So much to uncover.  Reach out and touch someone.

Missy Beattie thinks she may have a good plan here. She can be reached at:  missybeat@gmail.com

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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