Thursday, December 17, 2009

In Perspective - Please Read ... This is Not a Hoax

By Rodney Hays

Like many of you, I utilize on a daily basis through the latest in technology something called "e-mail."

Every now and then I get important communiques from people letting me know about story ideas, folks sending in wonderful photos and millions of people around the world asking how they too can receive the In Perspective column each and every week. To those people I ask you to continue sending those in.

But also in my inbox from time to time is various e-mails that I would rather not have to read. These nefarious e-mails usually come in three categories: 1) E-mails asking me to buy drugs to enhance every pleasure imaginable. 2) E-mail forwards about some type of police correspondence about gang members driving around with high beams and, as part of a gangland initiation, shooting the first person they see who forwards e-mail. Or 3) E-mails forwards from Nigerian men looking for my bank account information in exchange for pleasure enhancing drugs.

Last week, I think I might just have received all three in one e-mail.

I should have known better when the subject line read: Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease Reeeeeeeeeeead I Saw This On Good Morning America.

I opened the e-mail and after scrolling down 47 inches to get past all the forwarded messages, I finally found the information I was looking for. It said.

"Ladies and Gentlemen: This is not hoax. Please scroll down."

More scrolling.

The message went on to say how one guy who knows a paralegal who works for an actual lawyer who supposedly said, and I quote, "if it doesn't work, they are aware that we all will be coming to visit them for a law suit for false advertisement!"

The report on GMA is about an advertisement in the USA Today (another detail, this will be important as we will see in a minute) about how Microsoft and AOL are combining to make sure Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program by running an e-mail beta test program.

Every person who forwarded this e-mail on, the message stated, would receive a check from Microsoft in the amount of $245 for every person you send it to. Then you will get a whopping $243 for every person that person sends it to. And you will receive $241 for every third person that receives it. (Again notice the very specific, yet odd, numerical values).

The note is signed by a person with an actual name with an actual company and an actual phone number, complete with extension (although there's no e-mail, which I thought was weird).

The second person to forward the e-mail said he tried it, and I quote, "Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a check for $24,800.00."

His brother's girlfriend (wow, enough with the details) went to visit him for the Baylor/UT game (doesn't give a score, but still plenty of good detailed information there). The girlfriend showed the guy's brother (are you still with me) a check for the sum of $4,324.44. The check was also, and I quote, "stamped 'paid in full.'"

All very good information.

I started to call Bull Sugar after that.

The reason I started to have some doubts was the amount of detailed information. That much information overload is usually dumped by a person who is doing what some psychiatrist call "lying."

I will give you an example.
Recently I was in a large inner city when I ran into a guy who walked up to me while I was pumping gas. He had a nice story.

The story went like this:

"I from Amarillo (detail). My wife and I were coming to Dallas (detail) for a family reunion (detail). We were coming down I-35 (detail) and we took a wrong turn on 183 (detail).
"My wife is still in the car (detail, although I could only deduce that his wife and car was somewhere north to northeast based on the vague direction he was pointing). He only needed about $3 (detail) for some gas to get back home (this detail was left out, but I assume Amarillo)."

I reached into my pocket and gave the guy a few bucks because in another life and with the right lucky breaks, he could have been a terrific fiction writer. His story was a real "page turner."

But do you see the pattern most liars utilize. They love to give lots of details to throw everyone off the scent of this actual being a fictional yarn. John Grisham makes a killing doing it.

All of that being said, I have a challenge for the millions of In Perspective readers out there.

After reading this column, take a pair of orange-handled Fiskar scissors and cut it out, being careful to include the date in the cut. Take this cutout copy of In Perspective - an award winning humor column - and make about 103 copies at your local Kinko's, Staples, library or Pancho's Mexican Buffet. Then stuff those 103 copies along with a note that says, and I quote, "If you love America and are not a terrorist, send a copy of this column, along with a money order for $78.37 made payable to Rodney Hays to Rodney Hays. If you don't, the terrorists have won." Then send those letters to at least 103 of your friends. Include a Christmas card if you would like to kill two birds with one stone.

If you do, Microsoft will send you a check for 23 cents for every person you send it to that has red hair and drives a Toyota Prius.

Don't think this is a hoax. I know a guy who has a brother whose girlfriend's roommate did this. There was a guy who saw her at the Central Iowa/Nebraska Barber College lacrosse game and she showed the guy's dog a coupon for a $6.99 haircut from Great Clips.

If you don't believe me, I guess you just hate America, puppies and small innocent children. Shame on you.

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