I've recently entered into a business agreement with a friend of mine. He sells one form of the product that provides me sustenance, but doesn't really like to mess with the line of the product in which I specialize. I don't even have a license to sell that line which makes him a living. I've never been attracted to that particular aisle, and he feels the same way about Aisle Number 5 where I hang out. That's cool. Different strokes and all that.

In a recent conversation with him, I asked him what he thought about letting me have access to his files and I'd see if those folks on his Aisle Number 3 might be in need of what's over on Aisle 5. I offered to give him 30% of any money I made from business his clients did with me. He trusts me and didn't see any real downside, as long as I didn't piss his clients off by calling them, so I started.

I've been going to his office three times a week and pulling his files each time to get twenty names. He's got around 2,000 clients, so you can see that this will take a while. Gathering the names and information and putting them into a database of my own is the mindless work. I'm amazed that he has all these folks' information on paper. They are all housed in filing cabinets inside manila folders, half a dozen or so to each green hanging file folder. It seems like the Dark Ages to me. I spend about an hour in there gathering up my 20 contacts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I see him and his partner and his clerical girl coming back and forth to these filing cabinets in order to assist their clients with whatever they need. They hunt and peck around for these paper files and all I can think about is, "Wouldn't it be worth your while to get all this on a computer so you could pull stuff up without having to leave your desk?" He's younger than me, so you'd think he'd have thought of this before I ever did. But he's stuck in some sort of textual time warp, and I don't want to piss him off by harping on it. It's his problem; not mine.

When I get through with this little project, I'll have a more complete data base of his clients than he does. I would think that would bother him just a little bit. As I said, he trusts me. He better.

The creative part comes when I have to pick up the phone and call these folks to discuss Aisle 5. I have to keep up because I don't want to be staring at a list of 2,000 folks to call one day. I have to call the 20 I just put in my data base before I go back to his office, and I've promised him I'll be there at 1:00 PM every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When you work for yourself, you have to find ways like this to motivation. You have to set deadlines which only you know about, and you have to meet them. No one else tells you if you're getting behind, and no one else slaps you on the back and says, "Good job!" if you're keeping up. This is why most folks cannot work for themselves.

Here's where I have to tell you how much I hate telemarketers. "Well, isn't that what you're doing, dannye? You asshole! You're such a hypocrite!" Back that dump truck up, Mr. Negativity. I am calling folks who have a business relationship with my friend and they know his name very well. When I mention his name, they do not hang the phone up and say, "Get the fuck off my phone, you asswipe!" This is what we would call a referred lead. Telemarketers are doing cold calling. That is when they do not know me from Adam's housecat and I realize just seconds after their call that I'm just another name on a very impersonal list to them. These telemarketers are killing me, because they've made Mr. and Mrs. Consumer pissed off at the phone even before they pick it up. I can overcome this initial animosity, but it makes it a lot tougher to make pleasant conversation.

The basic problem with telemarketing is that it's cheap for the callers but not for those folks on the other end of the line. Tons of these calls every day and night has led to a situation where many folks will pay monthly fees for services to hamper it. And, yet, the telemarketers find ways around these, like random-digit dialing to reach unlisted numbers and jamming of caller ID. Have you been getting more hang-ups in recent years? So has everybody else. Here's the reason. The bastards have devised a predictive dialer that makes several phone calls at once but connects a sales representative only to the first person who picks up. The rest of the folks who pick up hear a dead line, which can be unsettling if you don't realize it's probably just another telemarketer wasting your time. And, once you realize that's what it is, it pisses you off even more. You'll usually get these calls in the mornings. They want to go home early, too.

OK, that rant is over. Now let me tell you what pisses ME off the worst in this situation I'm in with my friend. It's this damn Caller ID every swinging dick and duchess seems to have on their phone these days. I don't have that. I would feel as if I was wasting my money to pay for that crap. I don't think I'm so important that I need to see who's calling me before I pick the phone up. I guess if I was being stalked, I could understand it. But for normal folks? I don't get it.

However, that's their business. Unfortunately, it is now having a large impact on me. A lot of these folks I call aren't home. I don't leave a /msg on their phone; I just make a note to call some other time. And now, over and over, my phone is ringing with someone I don't know saying, "I got home and this number was on my phone. Did you call me?" Or, even worse, "Who called me from this number?" in an arrogant tone, as if I'd pissed on their living room carpet. ARRRRGHHH!! I want to say, "Do you call every fucking number you see on your phone every fucking day when you get home? What if it's a wrong number, asswad? Could you possibly be more of a helpless loser?"

But I don't. I make nice because I promised my friend that I would not piss his clients off. So I say, "I might have called you. What is your name?" Luckily, when they tell me, I can quickly hit "search" on my computer program where these names are stored and, even if the name only appears in the notes somewhere, I can find them within 30 seconds. Can you imagine how long it would take my friend to find them in those cabinets with those manila folders?

I'm thinking of just moving over to Aisle 3 and taking over his business for him. He's spending way too much time on the golf course to make a living, anyway.