Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Lost Marbles

First they came for the automobiles, and I did nothing; then they came for the telephones. . . .

At least once a week our local newspaper reports on yet another Florida “senior” being fleeced. Smooth-talking cons and sly swindlers contact these elders and convince them that they need to wire money now--as in RIGHT NOW--to bail out a relative in a foreign hoosegow or pluck their sorry butts from some sort of serious fix in BFE. From the rapidity of the reports and the rapacity of the crimes, it would seem as though these devil dicks are taking candy from babies; and, in a sense, that’s about what it amounts to since most of these old folks have the mental maturity of children. This curse has become so common that it causes one to wonder if these elder victims do anything with their days other than sit by the telephone waiting for the crooks to call so they can eagerly hand over their money.

Last week I proposed removing the engines from cars whose owners are too far gone to see what a danger they are on the streets. This week I suggest that those with loved ones living alone in such a foggy state either remove their telephones altogether or replace them with a plastic banana. Anyone who would willingly give their money to the first stranger who dials them up will never know the difference between a real telephone and a plastic banana anyway. If the cons can’t talk to these oldsters, they can’t talk them out of their hard-earned savings. Simple. Problem solved.

Of course, there is no age limit on being stupid. An “old fool” was once upon a time a young fool. Take for example a scam making the rounds on TV which is peddling two-dollar bills with scenes from our national parks. Since most of these ads are on sports channels, my guess is that the info-hustlers feel this is a bullish market loaded with some very dim Bubba Buzzcuts.

"These beautiful two-dollar bills can be yours not for $30, but for the incredibly low price of $10. Yes, you heard us right! That’s $10 each! This is a once-in-a-lifetime offer so hurry, order yours today. And, if you call right now, we will include another $2 bill absolutely free! That’s right, yours absolutely free as our special gift!"

While the excited announcer continues his rapture, “America the Beautiful” wafts in the background, adding a hymn-like and none-too-subtle Mom & Apple Pie touch. What red-blooded American could resist such a patriotic pitch?

Now, any moderately intelligent person might sit up during such a commercial and ask themselves, “What the hey? What’s wrong with this picture? Now let’s see, I send them ten bucks and they send me four bucks? Oh, I don’t think so . . . Not this trip, Mogumbo!” That’s what a normal person would think. Unfortunately, since these scams air frequently and ad time is not cheap, it suggests, to me, at least, that far more folks are currently falling off the turnip truck than I had previously imagined. Right now, as I peck, scores of people are lining up to exchange that worn out old ten dollar bill in their pocket for two shiny new two-dollar bills. It can only be hoped that after they have made the swap and received their signs and their Darwin Awards, it can only be hoped that the same loving, caring do-gooder who is hauling away Grandpa’s car engine and Granny’s telephone will also toss Bubba Buzzcut’s TV in the back of the truck to save Bubba from . . . from . . . to save Bubba from Bubba.