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Certainly there is nothing funny about telephone scams which pry untold amounts of money away from honest, unsuspecting people, quite often senior citizens. When one has just sent $2,147 to bail out a grandson in prison in Finland and the grandson drops by to visit two hours later, most of us would probably be too embarrassed to even talk about the loss. If we do talk about it, the money and perpetrators will have disappeared into a labyrinth of anonymous electronic caves. Newspapers, magazines, and lecturers warn us about a variety of scams, but when our emotions get involved, we tend to blot out the intellectual parts of our personalities. The usual advice tells us not to answer the phone if we do not know who the caller is. If we do answer and it is a stranger, we are instructed to hang up. The majority of us, however, have been brought up to understand that it is impolite to hang up unless the person threatens or is impolite to us. With email, curiosity also comes into play: “Why is John Doe writing to me?” Several years ago I received a call from New York asking for money for a religious organization. I, politely, informed the person that I do not accept telephone solicitations and that his choice of religions was definitely not mine. He then said that he hoped I would get on airplane to New York, the plane would crash, and I would be killed. I called the telephone company and the police, both of whom informed me that unless the person actually threatened me, there was nothing they could do. The moral to the story: if you listen and get angry at the caller, you can call names, but DO NOT A L I V E E A S T B A Y j a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 26 DAMN, IT’S A SCAM THREATEN, much as you would like to. EDWIN COHEN At times I decide to have some fun with those who think they have the right to invade my home and privacy so they can make a buck. I do not advise this action for those who are shy about speaking or do not have the background to pull off a deception. In other words, “do not try this at home.” I have an excellent background in theater and as an actor. I have studied and practiced improvisation for countless hours. Not improv for entertainment, but improv to understand better a character and improv for the inevitable moments in live theater when something goes wrong. Occasionally an actor will have an incident in which he/she unconsciously breaks away from the script and may jump ahead, or behind, two or three pages of dialogue— often the part containing the focus of the rest of the play. Improv teaches, or attempts to teach, an instantaneous way of seeing a variety of paths to get back on track with the audience being unaware of the change. Also, I am, or was, fairly competent with a variety of non-American accents and the ability to speak gibberish and nonsense for short periods of time. For example: We recently had a rash of calls from a contractor, whose name appeared on “Caller ID,” almost every day and sometimes more than once a day. After the first experience, we usually just let the phone ring, but this time I was just sitting around, so I answered it speaking total nonsense. When he asked if anyone spoke English, I replied with some sort of accent, “No Anglish.” He then asked about Spanish to which I replied, “Kazakhstan.” I then


Alive_Jan_2016
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