The Phone Rings


From the Days Before Telephone Solicitors


The phone rings. A quick look at the caller ID indicates it is yet another worthy organization calling for money. It’s dinner time, we’re tired, we want to be alone. But, if we don’t answer, they’ll just keep calling and calling and calling, maybe for months. So we answer and, trying not to be rude, announce that we gave at the office, or that we gave last week, or that we’re not in the giving vein today. Lately we’ve taken to announcing that we make no contributions to any organization that doesn’t call on us personally. Of course, that may deliver a horde of fund-raisers to our door and they’ll be even harder to get rid of than the phone solicitors.

Off with their heads!

But, of course, we don’t mean that. These are people who spend their careers trying to keep wild places wild. Some ask for money to buy fragile parcels of land (eg. The Nature Conservancy); some to keep their lawyers in court fighting against the government bureaucrats and big corporate interests who don’t see the profit in wildness (eg. The NRDC); still others who prowl the halls of Congress and state legislatures ferreting out the latest schemes to take just a little more habitat away from animals who need it (The Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society); others who specialize in protecting specific habitats (Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited). Then come the people doing their best to protect the birds (The Audubon Society, The American Bird Conservancy) The list goes on and on and each of these organizations does good and important work and deserves our support.

But we don’t have enough money to donate to all of them, and they clearly share their mailing and telephone lists. Join just one or give to just one and you are condemned to a lifetime of the phone ringing during your dinner. Or your lunch. Or your nap. Or your blog reading. It’s like eternity; there is no escape.

It’s so tempting to shout into the phone, “You’ve reached the home of Senator and Mrs. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and we think global warming is a hoax! If you want money, call Al Gore.” Or, “Pigeons? We don’t need no stinking pigeons!” Or, “Hello, this is Richard III. I say, do you have a horse available? Otherwise this is a really bad time.”


Pukaskwa National Park, Canada


But we can’t do that. These are nice people, working in a good cause. They probably don’t even want to interrupt our dinner.

And the animals need wild places much more than we need an interruption-free dinner. So, we answer. Mostly. It’s a small price to pay for a Peregrine Falcon or a boreal forest or a wildlife refuge.


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One Response to “The Phone Rings”

  1. theroamingnaturalist Says:

    Ha! You are so right – what a wonderful post. It’s hard not to be mad when being solicited, but it’s harder to be mad when you consider what these people are fighting for (and being the receiving end of many who choose *not* to withhold their dinner-time tempers). Thanks for reminding me of that! 🙂

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