HSN and Terrorism
Once upon a time, I awoke at 5 am on a Saturday morning. I picked up my stitching and turned on the TV. Flipping through the channels, I happened upon the Home Shopping Network (HSN) channel where I spotted some underwear that looked fabulous. I had never purchased anything from HSN but I decided to go ahead and do so. When the transaction was completed, the operator asked me, "Would you like to apply for an HSN card? It has special privileges." Of course, never one to miss out on a special privilege, I agreed. She patched me over to another department. While waiting for the next operator, a recording came on and announced that this upcoming conversation was being recorded for training purposes. I was not at all surprised that this phone call was being recorded, but I did wonder, "Who is being trained? Are they training me or the other guy?" And, "What are they training us for?" Soon a different operator arrived on the line. He was a nice young man, who seemed to be in his early twenties. He was cordial and asked me for my complete name and the last 4 digits of my social security number. I happily gave him that information as I was anxious to discover what special privileges the HSN card had to offer.Next, he began to read from a script. It was familiar to him, so he read on with some speed but was careful to speak each word clearly and to pronounce each with distinction. At the same time, I listened half-heartedly as I was still viewing the HSN channel and mentally recording the special features of the underwear I had just bought. Just as the TV screen moved to another item for sale, I thought I heard him say, "In its efforts to combat terrorism, The United States government has passed a federal law which requires that HSN identify each of its HSN cardapplicants. Therefore, pursuant to the mandates of this federal law, I will be asking you a set of personal questions to make sure you are identified properly." Although I must admit I was not fully alert to his entire message, when I heard him say the word "terrorism", I sat uprightin my seat. Before he had a chance to move on, I interrupted him. "Could you repeat that last part, please? I am not certain I heard you correctly." I thought I heard him respond with a giggle but he repeated these words with clarity, "In its efforts to combat terrorism, the UnitedStates government has passed a federal law which requires that HSN identify each of its HSN card applicants. Therefore, pursuant to the mandates of this federal law, I will be asking you a set of personal questions to make sure you are identified properly." I was stunned. I had no idea that our country's legislators were so forward-thinking and creative. How awesome to learn that our nation's leaders had figured out a way to enlist the help of this vast commercial enterprise - the entire Home Shopping Network backed by its many cardholders - to defend our country against terrorism. Even though it was still early in the morning, my mind started racing. I could not wait to complete this part of the call. I was anxious to provide my personal information so that I could not only get the HSN card but also so that I could help my country defend itself against terrorism. I immediately affirmed my patriotism to the operator, "Of course, I amhappy to assist my country and the Home Shopping Network in their allied efforts to combat the evils of terrorism. I will voluntarily answer any and all personal questions to make sure that all terrorism is thwarted. I am so grateful to have been asked because I want to assist our nation andthe Home Shopping Network to make sure that no weapons of mass destruction threaten our purple mountains or amber waves of grain." I was so engrossed in announcing my personal pledge of allegiance, that I even thought I'd heard the few faint strains of The National Anthem in the background. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had been put on hold by this young male operator. What I has hearing was the Home Shopping Network's recorded music! Apparently, the young man had to cut off the conversation because he had started to laugh. It was just a few moments later that the recorded music stopped and the operator's voice returned. I paused and hetook in his breath to begin the next part of his script. Although he tried to be serious, I could hear - with the utterance of his first word - the "chuckling" in his voice. I interrupted him curtly, as I was, needless to say, a little miffed that he was obviously making light of my national pride. In my most confident voice, I continued, "There is one subject, however, the nature of which is so personal, and the answer to which is such a well-guarded secret, that I beg you to not even ask it. Please do not ask me my weight. First off, I would have to lie about it. I could notdivulge that information unless you tortured me, for example, by not allowing me to have the Home Shopping Network card with its many privileges. I could not tell you the truth, even if you refused to ship me the underwear I just ordered. Secondly, I must issue a warning. If youhappen to discover some method that did cause me to disclose my true weight, I would then be forced to take steps to silence you.” By this time, both the operator and I were laughing hysterically – neither one of us expected to come to our senses in any reasonable time frame. I was ever so grateful that I had called an 800 number and was not being charged for 5 minutes of laughing! Soon the operator gathered his wits about him and said the only thing a man of his age could say that guaranteed to me that he fully grasped the severity of the consequences he would face if he had to broach the subject of my weight, "I have a Mother and a Grandmother! I know not to touch that subject.""What a relief!" I said to myself. I could continue my discussion with the HSN operator and was, I fervently hoped, just moments away from being granted the Home Shopping Network card, including all of its many rewards. He went on with his questions, all of which I was able to answer while at the same time preserving my dignity at not having to disclose any deepsecrets. Once done, he promised I would hear from HSN in a few short weeks. When he asked me to confirm my satisfaction with the call, I told him I felt he was very courteous and quite helpful but that I needed to amend my original order, "I will have to pay for expedited shipping. Ineed to get that underwear right away so that my efforts at battling terrorism can be undertaken as soon as the package arrives and I start wearing my new bra and panties in public." He responded aptly, "The sooner the better."In closing, my friend and fellow countrymen/women, be sure to remember - each time you see me in public, you might notice notice that my bottom is a little smoother and my top a little perkier. My mission continues – no terrorists will survive as long as the nation's efforts are beingsupported by HSN and its fabulous underwear!