"I’m talking about telemarketers, phishing freaks and scam artists," Mark Farris says in his latest column.

I’ve had a couple people tell me I focus too much on doom and gloom. There’s a one-word explanation for that: reality. I understand where they’re coming from, so today I’ll just offer gloom.

Before I get started I need to clarify my question last week, “where is the Christian outrage?” I admit there is one Christian group that practices what they preach: the IHM Sisters. They’re not afraid to criticize the president, whoever that may be (usually a Republican). They’ve stood in front of Mr. Custer protesting wars. If there really is a heaven, I’m sure I’ll cross paths with them there as I dig ditches with a short handle shovel.

Anyway, we’re all looking forward to getting outside. Summer is inching closer and some of us will be dealing with air-born allergies more than worrying about the virus. Warmer weather will also bring out different parasites. I don’t mean mosquitoes and ticks; I can buy repellent for them.

I’m talking about telemarketers, phishing freaks and scam artists. I’m sure some of you have gotten a call from the IRS to inform you there is a miraculous refund for you and all you have to do is call for information. I never call.

Some IRS calls are an authoritarian voice informing you they have a miraculous warrant for your arrest. You’re informed you owe the government some money and if you don’t come up with some fast cash you can expect a visit. Last time I got that call I knew exactly what was going on. Without hesitation I eagerly asked the guy how much I owed and where I should mail the check. He hung up on me!

Then, one day, I got a call from Publishers Clearing House. Oh boy, I had won $500,000! I knew I was one lucky dude because it just so happens I also had an envelope on my table from PCH telling me I was in the running for a shot at 38,000 bucks.

Well, right out of the gate I knew these people weren't telling the truth. I played along. I was asked for some information they already had and then the lady, Misty Lane, transferred me over to a guy who was supposed to be my acting attorney. He said he’d place me in the correct tax bracket to avoid paying too much in taxes. Both of them had foreign accents. I assumed they were operating from a distant place like maybe Maybee or Carleton.

He then asked me for information they didn’t have. Like how much money I had in the bank. He asked which particular increment of financial comfort I considered myself within A, B, or C. I lied and told him C, the highest level. At that point he said I didn’t sound too excited about my impending ascent to the status of a thousand-aire. I lied and told him I was in shock.

He asked what the first thing I was going to buy with my new wealth. I lied again and told him a Cadillac and that seemed to placate him. He transferred me back to Misty whereupon she asked how soon I could go to my bank and transfer her a few thousand bucks toward the processing fee. Oh boy, here we go.

I told Misty I couldn’t send the cash. She expressed surprise and asked why I didn’t want the $500,000. I politely told her that she and her associate were amateurs. She calmly asked why I played along on the phone and I told her I wanted to see how a scam operates. I suggested she polish up her presentation because I thought Misty Lane was a line of lingerie. She said something I didn’t catch but her tone was painful. I told her I should call the cops and she said to have them ask for Misty.

I hung up, chuckled at my petty victory dodging hucksters. Well, I didn’t realize Misty had given me a souvenir until I turned on my computer. I somehow picked up a virus. I bet Misty chuckled.

Mark Farris lives in Monroe. He can be reached at rpddog@sbcglobal.net.