The Numbers Game

Why Is Everyone Asking For A Phone Number?

I guess it's been a few years now since I've stopped finding it strange that I'm asked my phone number when I drop a pair of pants off at the cleaners. Or do they ask when I pick them up, or both times? Then, of course, they ask my address. I guess all this is to verify it's me, and I'm not some guy trying to get someone else's pants. I guess.

At Radio Shack where I sometimes go to get batteries, they need to know my phone number and address. Why? Again to make sure it's me? You wouldn't expect them to sell batteries to just anyone, would you?

At Toys "R" Us they wanted my phone number and ZIP code. If I didn't have the right ZIP they wouldn't have sold me PlayStation2? Maybe not. They only made a limited amount. Why should they sell them to people who might not be who they claim to be.

Obviously this is about getting us on a mailing list to sell us more batteries or tell us about some deal at the cleaners. I understand that. I just wish they wouldn't act like it was some kind of security check.

Actually I'd like to ask the cleaners a couple of questions: Why do you pin my pant legs together? I think I should be able to put my pants on without getting stuck with a pin. And what's with all this paper that engulfs the hanger? Why do I need this? They're asking me questions. So much interrogation.

I heard the other day on the radio about a survey that said if you aggressively ask someone something, most people will answer. The survey sounded right to me. I mean when people ask for all this information, they don't even do it aggressively. They just ask, and we tell. I guess it seems easier than saying, "Why do you want to know?" I did that once to a clerk in a hardware store, and he backed off immediately, but there was an unpleasant tension between us afterward.

The next time I'm there I'll probably just give up the info.

I can imagine a time when I buy a Snickers candy bar, and the salesperson after getting the basic data on me will say, "You used to buy Milky Ways, why the change?"

I'll then say, "Snickers has nuts!"

The clerk will note that in the computer, and then say, "So sometimes you prefer nuts?"

"Yes," I'll say.

And then they'll say, "By the way what is your mother's maiden name?"