The best Christmas present, ever

Published 5:32 am Wednesday, January 2, 2002

By Staff
I don't know about you, but my Christmas this year wasn't good.
I was hoping for a PlayStation to keep me entertained on those nights when I have absolutely nothing to do.
I was expecting a TV to replace the current 12 inch midget I now own and actually try to watch from halfway across the room. I was even holding out for a cheap VCR to hook up to my midget TV so, at least when nothing was on TV, I could pop in my favorite recorded episodes of SNL.
But no dice. For Christmas this year, my aunt and mother gave me Scotch Guard and shampoo.
I tried to think about all the wonderful things I could do with my new can of Scotch Guard and Pantene ProV. Absolutely nothing came to mind. I began to read the cans, when a sudden flash came before me. I noticed that stamped on the back of both of these products was a 1-800 number to call in the regard of questions or comments. I had finally found a way to play with my Christmas presents.
I dialed up 1-800-3M-PROTECT (an actual number) at 11:00 p.m. Dec. 25, and began to chitchat with "Emergency Coordinator" Sally about the things she has encountered.
I asked Sally exactly what she did for 3M, and her response was "to answer calls from people who have emergencies concerning our products and refer them to a local hospital or poison control center basically read a script from a card."
Being the inquisitive type I am, I instinctively asked Sally her pay rate. Her answer was astonishing: "Twelve dollars an hour."
But I digress. Sally and I had a lengthy conversation about life in general for roughly 6 hours. At about 4 a.m., I asked Sally to recount the strangest call she had ever answered. Her story was uncanny. At 11:30 p.m., on a Friday night, a lady called the 3M hotline to report that her husband had inhaled a large amount of a flammable 3M product.
Apparently, the husband was trying to perform a trick in which he blew a large amount of the stuff onto an open flame, when something went terribly wrong.
Sally was unable to determine whether he had just swallowed this stuff or actually had burned his mouth, throat, or worse, his esophagus and stomach.
Sally, in her infinite wisdom, read from her script to call 911 or drive to the nearest emergency room. And then it got interesting. The woman paused for a moment, and in an almost mumbling tone said, "I can't do that."
Sally was by this point irate. She was seeking help for a poor man, who had obviously been seriously hurt, and could not get the man's own wife to cooperate.
When Sally collected herself professionally (she admitted she was tempted to call the wife a by a few expletives despite her strong Catholic upbringing), she calmly asked why. After a pause, the wife said, "My oldest brother is in charge of the 911 thing in our city, and my youngest brother is resident-in-chief at our local hospital."
Sally, along with myself, could only see this as a benefit. "You'll have people who honestly care about your husband taking care of him a good thing," Sally said.
After another pause, the wife responded, "My brothers hate my husband." In an almost innocent tone, Sally made the mistake of asking why again. After yet another pause, the woman responded: "They think my husband is an idiot."
I have never laughed so hard.
Through this entire incident, I missed the skydiving lesson vouchers tucked away in the back side of the box, which my aunt and mother, for some evil and selfish reason, were viciously hiding from me until the day after Christmas.
And sure, I am anxiously anticipating my lessons, even though they aren't until September. I can wait. But I don't think I ever received a better Christmas present than I did this year on Christmas day. Being able to connect with just random people is probably the best Christmas present I have ever gotten.
And next year, I'm hoping for a can of WD-40. I can't wait to hear the stories their "E-Operator" has to tell me.
Robbie Byrd is news editor for The Atmore Advance. He may be reached at 368-2123 or via email at

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