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Becoming pals with a pollster

Bettye Anding

Bettye Anding

Remember when I told you several weeks ago how exhausted I was with getting the dozens of robo calls targeting our landline? Well, can you tolerate another tirade, this time about those pesky political polls?

It’s 3 p.m. on a Sunday, and, as everybody should know, most of us seniors are either already napping or turning down our bed covers to do so. Heck, most of us do the same thing on weekdays, too.

The phone rings or makes the sound of a flute or an exotic  bird — whatever it’s set up to do in this age of choose-your-summons from a list of custom sounds — and a real person about the age of one of my grandsons politely asks if I’m Bettye. I’m caught: I reply in the affirmative, and then comes the revelation that — it’s a political poll!

The kid sounds too nice to hang up on, so I agree to answer a few questions.

We quickly establish that I would vote for neither Donald Trump nor David Vitter, and then the conversation moves to smaller races and candidates with whom I’m unfamiliar. The conversation takes a turn that makes me think that the kid has mistaken me for a voter living a couple of miles further down the river.

“What about the upcoming election in Play-kay-mines parish,” he asks, and reels off several candidates’ names, the most amusing of which is “Bill-e-oat.”

I try to help. “Placka-menz parish,” I say several times before he gets it kind of right, and then, “Bill-yot.”

That confuses him — it’s kind of like when national newscasters pronounced our state attorney general Jack Gree-me-ahn’s name Gree-mill-yan back about 40 years ago.

But we finally get this class in local pronunciation of French names done, and I think I’ve set him up for his next call.

We finish the poll as best we can, and then he asks a few personal questions, including — what is my age.

Now, most pollsters ask that before going into the detail that we have, and then say quickly, “That concludes the poll. Thank you.” And hang up.

Wouldn’t you get the idea that they really don’t care to hear from us extreme seniors? I do, so I’m leery about answering this question.

“Eighteen to 30, 30 to 40, 40 to 65,” they ask. “Or older?”

This kid begins that spiel, and I break in. “I’m 80,” I say quietly. And not a little defensively.

“Wow,” he says. “You don’t sound like you’re 80! You really don’t.”

At this point I could have told him that the tremor that usually distorts my voice has been put to rest by the two glasses of wine I had for Sunday lunch. But perhaps he’s from a place where grandmas don’t imbibe. I laugh and say only, “Well, I look like it.”

“I’m sure you don’t,” he answers. “Yes, I’m quite sure you don’t.” And then — with good wishes fluttering around us two new friends — we tell  each other goodbye.

Needless to say, I’ve lost most of my negative feelings about political pollsters. Ring my chimes, guys, I’m ready.

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at [email protected]