Teach a Man to Phish ...
Suddenly the phone rings.
Easter Sunday, and it was going to be my perfect opportunity to sleep in. My wife is out of town visiting family. Morning swim practice is cancelled for the holiday. And, with my dreams of a White Easter come true with an inch of fresh snow on the ground, plans for a long bike ride are out the window. A perfect day for Easter on my keister.
I pick up the phone and a recorded voice on the other end greets me:
This is a call for (my wife's name mispronounced) or (my name mispronounced). We are calling on behalf of (mispronounced name of our credit union) Visa credit card to verify a charge. If you are (my wife's name mispronounced) or (my name mispronounced) please press one now.I press one now.
Please enter the last four digits of your social security number now.I freeze for a moment. This is a call from my credit union, or someone on their behalf. They run free clinics on avoiding identity theft. Surely they wouldn't resort to asking their members to provide personal information to an unsolicited caller. But I definitely don't want my wife to be stuck in New Jersey with a blocked credit card. I hang up.
OK, now I'm really irritated. I know I'll never find out if I made that plane, but I try to go back to sleep.
Thinking about my dream, it really starts to creep me out. Of course, living in Boulder, I know lots of people who are convinced that the 9/11 attacks were a U.S. government conspiracy. An out-of-control flag, crashing into a tower, wreaking havoc on the countryside. Not to mention making people miss flights. Does this mean that I'm starting to be one of them?
I must have lain awake for an hour before I decided to get up. The phone rings again immediately. Same drill. I hang up again.
What are they thinking? On their suggestion, I would never respond to an unsolicited email and provide any personal information. We shred anything with our credit card number, signature, social security number, mother's maiden name, favorite color, childhood dog's name, or high school mascot. And now they want me to forget these rules, just because it's a low-tech telephone call and not high-tech email message.
Knowing there will be no response on Easter morning, I call the credit union's number from the back of my credit card. Just a recorded message, but there is a phone number to call to report a lost or stolen card. I try that one. But no, all I can do at that number is activate a new account or report a lost card. No option to verify a charge or talk to a person.
So that's it. I'm tired and convinced I'm (turning into) a kook. My wife is stuck in New Jersey with a credit card she doesn't know is going to be turned down. And I've lost my full faith in credit union.
By the way, here is an anonymous (meaning I couldn't find the author) expounding on the Confucius quote that inspired my headline:
"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, feed him his entire life."
Give a man a fish? What fish? Trout? Scrod? Herring? Fresh-water? Salt-water? Pickled? Could you be more specific? Can one fish feed a man for an entire day? Depends on the fish I guess. We need clarification. And come to think of it -- what man? Who is this guy?
Now about this 'teaching a man to fish' nonsense. I don't have time to teach a man to fish. I have enough crap going on in my life. I have bills to pay. I don't need the increased responsibility of running a fishing class for grown-ass men who don't have fish.
There are a lot of tricks to fishing too. Selecting the right pole, the right reel, fishing line, hooks, bait. It's complicated! And he's going to have to put down a deposit in case he breaks something. Does he have a credit card? I'm not getting stuck with repairs. What am I, UNICEF? I should run a background check to make sure he isn't likely to cut my throat with a paring knife.
And I have to be honest; I don't know squat about fishing. I was raised in the city. My dad used to take me to museums, not lakes. We went fishing once. We didn't catch anything so we went to Vons. Grilled up some T-bone steaks instead.
But let's pretend I know how to fish. I'm a regular fishing expert. Where's this guy gonna go fishing? He's going to have to arrange for transportation. "...Teach a man to drive, get him to his destination his entire life." That's a little better. I can teach a man to drive. But what, I gotta rent him a car now too? Screw 'im!
About the best thing I can do for this guy is to teach him how to pick out a fish. You want a fresh fish - that's rule #1. It shouldn't smell. If it smells, the fish isn't fresh. Fresh fish should be kept on ice -- they go bad quickly. You also want a fish that's been cleaned, unless you already know how to clean it. Does this man know how to clean a fish? Oh, he knows how to clean a fish, but he doesn't know how to catch one? That's the trouble with today's educational system. They teach you half of what you need to know. That's not my problem.
This guy should become a vegetarian. In sixty-seconds I can teach him how to catch a celery.