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 Writer's Desk:  NCR's daily Web column
Each week, a member of the NCR staff offers commentary on topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

July 19, 2004
Vol. 2, No. 15




global perspective Your call is very important to us

by Patty McCarty

The call comes as I am finishing supper, a pleasant-sounding young woman who asks if I am Patricia. I ask who she is. She is Alicia and was I Patricia? I don't want to expose Patricia to this cheerful woman who probably wants to sell me something. I am about to ask if her employer knows I am on the Missouri Do Not Call list when she says she is calling for the Marquette-Gallup survey.

"Ah," I say. "You have said the magic word -- Marquette." It's been years since I was on the campus but I believe that Marquette made a huge contribution to my long and happy and what's more -- gainfully employed -- life.

Alicia says she will turn me over to an automated survey machine but first she will give me a five-digit number. I say I am not happy about talking to a machine. I find them unforgiving and hard-to-please. Alicia says she is sorry and gives me a number, which I hastily write down.

I am zapped to a woman's voice -- an officious, unforgiving voice if I ever heard one. The voice says my opinion as a Marquette alum is important to "us." And I should give the five-digit number on the card Marquette sent me.

I tell the machine I did not get a card from Marquette but I will give a five-digit number.

The machine snaps that that was not the five-digit number. And will I please give the five-digit number on the card Marquette sent me?

I know honesty is important in surveys and I should not begin this relationship under the guise that I got a card from Marquette.

I try to tell this to the machine.

The machine tells me I did not answer correctly. That I should find the card and call back the number on the card. It hangs up abruptly.

I hang up slowly, muttering, "These people must be crazy."

Looking back, I am sure neither Marquette nor the Gallup organization had anything to do with that call. How could they?

Patty McCarty is NCR copyeditor.

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