Metro-East News

Wally’s strategy: If you don’t want an answer, don’t ask the question

Every retiree needs a purpose in life, or so I am told.

Sometimes this purpose is something he or she has dreamed about doing for a long time, but often it is something that someone else plans for them.

And that purpose can change. Or you can pick up more purposes.

When I retired last year, I planned to sleep as late as I possibly could every morning. Except for having to rise every morning at 5 to feed the dogs and cats and then going back to bed, I’m doing really well with that one.

I started back writing this column once a week and that has been mostly a pleasant chore except for having to type around the various cats on my keyboard.

And for the last couple of months I have been busy talking to a bunch of people who call to get me to sign up for their Medicare assistance plans.

My phone rings at least three times a day and the caller ID tells me someone is calling from Denver, Colo., South Bend, Ind., Dallas, Texas, Miami, Fla., or some other faraway place. I don’t know anyone from any of those places.

I started out ignoring the calls, letting my phone ring unanswered until it stopped. After all, he also serves who just sits and lets the phone ring. Or something like that.

But it occurred to me that if I answered the calls and actually talked to someone, they might quit calling. It hasn’t worked so far, but who knows.

The calls are mostly the same. They aren’t trying to sell me something, they say, they just want to help.

Most offer congratulations to me for reaching my 65th birthday. Then they want me to get busy and choose a supplemental plan, not knowing that they are dealing with a master procrastinator. I still have a couple of months to put this off.

But if they inquire about my health, “How are you doing today?” they have made a mistake.

Instead of offering up the usual “Fine,” which everyone expects, I launch into a detailed description of all my health problems, complete with a recital from the records of all my test results from the past year.

This can take a while and some don’t wait. If someone does wait, the pitch goes on and they attempt to connect me with one of their specialists who is standing by to talk with me. I just say no and keep saying no until they give up.

Sometimes the calls are automated but some are so slick you don’t realize it at first. The voice asks a question and then leaves a short break for a response. So when I keep talking about my health, the voice moves right on to the sales pitch.

I realize this is not exactly a noble purpose in life but it’s what I’m doing now.

I’m sure I will tire of this and go back to ignoring the phone. I’m hoping that when my Medicare kicks in at the end of this year, these calls will stop.

And surely some other purpose will come along — not that I’m looking for one.

Wally Spiers: