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Gene Weingarten on

WASHINGTON -- Today is the latest episode in my Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative series on the plight of the beleaguered customer-service representative.

Bunn-O-Matic

Me: Ma'am, I saw your product in a store. And I am frankly outraged.

Laurie: Why?

Me: Look, I'm not a prude. I don't have any problem with this kind of product, but I don't think you should sell them out in the open in stores like Costco, next to toasters and blenders.

Laurie: Sir, we make coffee pots.

Me: This isn't a sex toy? This isn't for human buns?

Laurie: It is a coffee pot. It is named for the family that started it. We have been around for over a hundred years. If you go to a McDonald's you will see many Bunns.

Me: Now I am really confused.

Pegasus Laboratories

Shannon: Hi. What can I help you with?

Me: I swear this is true. My beloved dog, Murphy, sleeps with me on my bed, sometimes at the foot and sometimes right beside me on a pillow. One day a couple of years ago I woke up very unpleasantly, like that snotty movie producer in "The Godfather" who owned a racehorse. My bed was also very warm and very wet. It turned out that Murphy, who is a big dog, had completely lost control of all bladder functions, a condition that could continue nightly for the rest of her life. But the vet prescribed Proin, a product made by your company. Murphy has been taking daily doses of Proin ever since, and the problem has not returned. By my calculation, I spend about $2.40 per day to avoid sleeping in pee. My question is, are you people crazy? I would pay anything for this product, and make any sacrifice. I would go without beer, if that's what it took. ...

Shannon: Sir.

Me: Ma'am.

Shannon: I don't want you to have to sacrifice beer. And I am ... I am glad our pricing allows you to accommodate both products.

Me: You sound almost ... moved.

Shannon: We are very proud of it.

Pam cooking spray

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Me: Hi. I just waited eight minutes on hold, but this will be worth it. I'm a little bit of a geek about celebrities. I'd like to talk to Pam, if she is around. I want to tell her how much I like her product.

Kelly: We certainly appreciate your comments, and I will pass them along to our kitchen team, who are the people who create the recipes.

Me: I can't talk to Pam herself?

Kelly: There isn't a Pam.

Me: Oh no! How was the product named?

Kelly: Let me see if I can find out.

[A brief pause.]

Kelly: OK, the patent was in 1957 and the product became a household name in the 1960s. It was invented by Arthur Meyerhoff. Oh!

Me: Wait, it's an acronym?

Kelly: It is! Product of Arthur Meyerhoff! Pam!

Me: Yay!!!

Kelly: I am going to have to update our information! I will send it over to our teams!

Me: Hey, what about renaming the product "Arthur Meyerhoff"? That would be a much better name.

Kelly: I can absolutely pass that along to the team!

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Gene Weingarten can be reached at weingarten@washpost.com. Follow him on Twitter, @geneweingarten. Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon Eastern at www.washingtonpost.com.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group


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