McZENA – Ah, it’s that time of year.
Just a couple of minutes ago, I received my first seasonal call about “avoiding a scam.”
This, a helpful communication from someone who said he was with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Cleveland. His number, a 216- area code. Clever.
This has happened to me before.
I, of course, let the call go to messages.
I have been — countless times — alerted by people that there was just something they needed to talk to me about.
I’ve now gotten familiar with that come on.
It has been identified — by me and others — as a ploy for someone to get something from you.
Some people, myself included, don’t like holidays much.
When I was in Washington, D.C. my company (Takoma Kitchens) served people on all holidays.
We were a scratch, high-end bakery and food purveyor.
You want a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving? Sure, we could do that. Plus provide our own stuffing mix from our own breads. And of course, fresh-baked pies.
At Christmas? The same thing.
How can anyone fill himself or herself with holiday cheer when the first thing you always knew was that you had to be cheerful? And kind. And always knew that the customer was right.
We once had a stand at the Montgomery County Food Women’s Coop. This was the place people fogged into because they knew they could get quality, at more than reasonable prices.
We once fired a customer when this gentleman brought his children … and allowed them to climb all over our stand and tramp on our containers of bran muffin.
We — my husband John and I — kindly informed the inhospitable man with the climbing kids that they might be best served elsewhere. (We did manage to save our bran muffins).
Customers in the Bethesda/Chevy Chase area outside Washington think they are the first people – anywhere.
They are willing to travel to buy goods, but they expect obeisance.
So, as a true believer in the holidays, I turn my back on such transparent and trite attempts by people to make my life miserable.
I believe in celebrating Thanksgiving because it is when people should truly observe what is important.
We — who have so much — should mark that holiday by sharing good food and company with people we love.
At Christmas, it’s a good idea to pull out a certain book and read some of the original renderings of the story of Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the three wise men.
And remember that Christmas isn’t about visiting shams on people. Or doing full -out buying to calm small ones.
It should be about something a little bigger.
Now, as an older — and maybe wiser — adult, I reject anything that talks to me of a scam.
I decided if the folks with the 216-area code were really legitimate, they would call me back.
Unfortunately, they did.
I had the fortune of being consulted by two gentlemen from the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
When they said they would visit me at my farm, I again felt some trepidation.
I locked the back door. And, I asked for identification when they arrived.
The two gentlemen, dressed so they reminded me of folks in the Men in Black movie, were courteous, thorough.
They truly were investigating reported attempts to get money from people. Of course, the shysters doing that kind of thing assume they can bamboozle older people.
I found out from the two gentlemen there is an effort, named “Elder Justice Initiative,” that is there to help people who have been victims.
My advice: never respond to someone who sends you a text, asking “how are you? Haven’t talked in a while.”
These correspondents aren’t your friends.
Email Louise Swartzwalder at email@example.com