I may be the last Canadian still waiting for the phone to ring.
The current federal election campaign seems to be marked by an unprecedented number of opinion polls. Some days have seen competing surveys released within hours of each other, often with wildly divergent results. The sheer volume of polls means a lot of Canadians are being asked about how they are going to vote.
But so far, no one has asked me. And I say that with complete certainty because I have been fielding every single call that has come our way in the hopes of having a chance to express myself.
It's not as if pollsters don't have our number. We routinely receive calls throughout the year from the big polling companies, and I always do the right thing. When it comes to the list of qualifying questions and I am asked whether anyone in the house works in the media, I come clean. I am a freelance journalist and my husband works for a newspaper. Admitting that usually results in a polite rejection, followed by a "maybe next time."
Just days before the writ was dropped, I fielded a call for what was clearly a political opinion survey. Although sorely tested, I nobly bowed out.
With an election looming, however, I began to express my frustration over my exclusion to friends, who held out the old saw that the only poll that matters is conducted on election day. Cold consolation to a political junkie - particularly an opinionated one.
A totally unscientific poll of my own indicates that many of our friends and neighbours haven't heard from a single pollster either. Inevitably they muse on who is being asked such important questions if they aren't. Then they express their belief that the latest campaign trend - the barrage of friendly taped phone messages from candidates - is a real turn-off.
Having heard many such responses, I now have a little insight into the life of pollsters - and a little more sympathy for them.
While my survey was comforting, I've never been a patient person, and the thought of waiting more than five weeks was simply too much. Once the election was called, temptation won out. I decided to throw principles to the wind. The next time Ekos or Harris Decima or Environics came calling, I'd be ready with what I rationalized was a little white lie.
Arriving at that decision wasn't easy. It meant jumping through ethical hoops with a series of justifications and excuses worthy of any half-decent politician.
Since I work on a per-piece basis, I figured I could legitimately say that technically I'm not employed by any media outlet.
And since I've always considered myself my own woman, I determined that what my husband does for a living really shouldn't matter. Besides, in all the years we've been married, he has never once told me how he votes.
Perhaps the resulting dearth of polling calls is a result of trying to cheat the system. More likely, though, it's payback for all the times I relied on call display to save me from yet another 1-800 telemarketer or anyone who popped up as unknown name, unknown number.
Now I know what I've been missing, because attempting to land that sought-after opinion call has meant wading through all the phone calls I normally ignore.
I've received countless offers to clean my ducts and replace our doors and windows. For the record, our house is ductless and we have mostly new windows and doors, but thanks anyway.
One day brought three go-rounds from the same eager cellphone service provider. Apparently he wasn't ready to take "No" for an answer.
I've fielded numerous calls tempting me with new credit cards - many of them American - along with taped calls on ways to lower my interest rate, followed by more taped calls with suggestions on how to handle those nagging debt problems. Perhaps the three are linked.
Our local newspaper called with what was labelled an irresistible subscription offer. I resisted.
I don't need a mover or my carpets cleaned, and I'm not looking for love, so the automated calls from the dating service are a waste of bandwidth.
I now know I am an incredibly lucky person, because I have won a stunning number of timeshares, cruises and trips south without having ever knowingly entered a contest. But while my winnings are always billed as having no strings attached, inevitably there's a catch.
I feel guilty about the charities I have declined donating to, but a couple have convinced me to open up my wallet. I have also managed to arrange a pickup of used clothing and household items.
Perhaps most surprising was the call from one of the federal political parties attempting to solicit funds. Who'd have guessed that we would need to fill in the name of our local candidate for the ill-informed telemarketer?
I realized just how many calls I was getting when friends and family began to remark on how they were recently finding themselves bounced to voicemail more often.
I try to be polite and patient with all who call asking me to buy, donate or sign on. After all, it's not their fault they've wandered into my little game.
It's their job and, should anyone ask me, unemployment is one of the many issues that concern me this election. So far, though, no one has asked.
Catherine Mulroney lives in Toronto.Report Typo/Error
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