What do telemarketers do during the weekend? (Photo by Jeff Lund)

What do telemarketers do during the weekend? (Photo by Jeff Lund)

I Went to the Woods: Do telemarketers hunt for something besides human prey?

It’s Sam calling…

As I discussed the critical moment at which the protagonist must make the decision to act, and therefore begin the journey through the central conflict, I felt my cell phone buzz in my pocket.

Was it my mom who had possibly forgotten school is back in session?

My brother? Who wanted to recap his latest camping adventure with his family on Washington’s Olympic peninsula?

Was it Ryan with something to consider regarding our caribou hunt? Probably not, he would have sent a text.

When class ended and lunch began, I checked. It was Sam, from Financial Health. He’d just been looking through my file and told me I qualified for…

I cursed Sam in my head as I grabbed my lunch and headed to the teacher’s lounge to discuss the weekend’s happenings – Dave’s latest hunt, the buck eating Sarah’s garden.

After finishing my mountain goat and potatoes, I started to wonder about Sam, and resisted the temptation to imagine reaching through the phone and spilling his coffee. Or worse.

I wondered what kind of student he was in high school. Did he sit in the front? Back? Did he lie about having to go to the bathroom and instead roam around the school with a buddy who had strategically asked a different teacher to be let out at the same time?

Did he dream about one day spamming people at work?

I started to feel a little bad, because probably not. In my 20 years of teaching no one has mentioned anything close to that. Doctors, lawyers, contractors, managers, linemen, welders, mechanics, professional hunters, commercial fishermen, rappers, singers, actors, artists, agents, models, teachers, athletes, psychologists, physical therapists, boat pilots, airplane pilots, business owners, “whatever makes me rich.”

No telemarketers.

So what happened?

Maybe Sam is happy and just hopes that people like me will pick up so he can make some extra bucks on the side. There are soulless predators out there who scam the elderly and others, ruthlessly stealing with or without delusional justification. But maybe he’s more like Michael Scott and needs money to support Jan’s spending habits.

I can’t imagine telemarketers make that much money because the whole thing seems so overtly ridiculous. They are every bit as bad as spam emails, but they do sound a little more convincing. Still, I can’t imagine falling for one. Maybe it’s more of a Trojan Horse and Sam infiltrates my phone and information regardless of whether or not I pick up.

The call originated (allegedly) from Minnesota. There’s plenty to do outside in Minnesota, so I like to think that Sam is a hunter and angler and doesn’t want me to judge him for having to cold call people while they are at work.

“Gotta pay the bills, man” he’d say in a candid moment after we talked ice fishing and whitetail deer.

Maybe he took this job so he could afford a four-day fishing charter at a Southeast Alaska lodge. Those can be spendy. Maybe he drew a mountain goat or sheep tag and needs to hire a guide. Would I do the same if I drew a trophy tag that required a guide and had to put together the money to make it happen within the year?

Maybe no one took him fishing or hunting as a kid. Maybe no one showed him the value of outdoor adventures. Maybe he floated through his golden youth without a mentor. Maybe he wanted something else but ruined his chance, or never got one.

I decided to give Sam a break.

But an hour later the phone rang again.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. “I Went to the Woods” appears twice per month in the Sports & Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.

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