That's What She Said: Info drain
- Dawn Dumont | November 23, 2016
It was late last week that I cracked. I was in Children’s Place, a few winter items for my kid in front of me; my toddler was sitting on the counter while the cashier went through the items. “He’s so cute,” the cashier cooed and he nodded and then held up his hand to ward off kisses, as he does.
I thanked her and then she did it: she asked for my postal code. I gulped, hesitated, and then gave it. Normally my response is a curt, “I do not give it out.” But she had already complimented my kid, despite his dirty face. Then it got worse, “And your phone number?” Again I hesitated before giving it up – should I? I’d already given up the postal code, what more harm would the phone number be…? So I told her - I even gave her the correct number!
She smiled, typed it into the corporation’s database in which they will store all my personal information until the end of time and then handed me my purchases. Leaving the store, I felt small and weak – I had succumbed to the information sucking machine.
I have resisted for a long time. I may be one of the pioneers of denial. I have stood alone for years, the only person who refuses to hand over their data. “Why?” I’ll ask, not meaning to be cold but that’s its hard to make a “why” friendly. The clerk will explain something about warranties or returns and I would shrug my shoulders. “I don’t return things.” This is true. I usually find some way to smudge them with chocolate before I find the time to return them.
I don’t know when companies decided that they needed all our information. Name, phone number, date of birth, postal code – that’s more information than is needed to be faculty at Trump University.
But resisting is not popular. I’ve felt the grumblings behind me. People who don’t understand why I won’t comply. “Are you so important? Are you a celebrity or something? What do you need privacy for?” And it’s true, I’m not someone special. I just don’t like ending up on lists because I’ve seen how hard it can be to get off of them.
For a six months period, I received phone calls from a creditor for someone else. I would answer, they would ask for her – let’s call her Berta Butterbear - and I would explain that this was my phone and that I didn’t know the person they were looking for. But they wouldn’t believe me. They would demand to know my name and how long I’d had my phone. Even if I told them, they would still argue with me, telling me to stop covering for Berta. I would get into full arguments on the phone with creditors on behalf of Berta. “I can see why she’s hiding from you, you’re a bunch of unfair jerks.” And on and on. This happened until I called the creditor company’s main office, explained that Berta must have had the same number as me at one point. It was a fairly simple process to remove my number from their database – the only problem was that I had to repeat the process six times before it stuck.
So then I became wary of any requests for personal info. If I bought raffle tickets, I would put in my mom’s phone number (she loves phone calls) or just tell them to come find me if I won. I kept this up for years. And then I became a mom.
For some reason, children’s stores seem to be at the forefront of the information collection. They say that they’re going to enter you into raffles and send you coupons but I haven’t seen any yet. I have, however, had three texts from companies telling me that I’m missing out on “AMAZING SALES – TEXT NOW KNOCKOFF MICHAEL KORS” in the past week.
As a result, I will be returning to my normal, no-information, stance. When cashiers request my phone number, I’ll request theirs. When they ask for my email address, I’ll tell them I don’t believe in them. When they request my postal code, I’ll tell them that I live another dimension, where postal codes are outlawed and everyone gets mail through their televisions.
So if you see me in line in front of you, prepare yourself for a long wait.