The Annoying Phone Call At Dinnertime That Drives You Crazy
Even Though You’re Polite You End Up Buying Something
Anyway Then Your Dinner Goes Cold Before You Can Hang Up
And All This Changes The Course Of History

By Rebecca Dempsey

(Winner first prize in the Eastern Writers Group’s 2002 Biggest Little Short Story Competition)

—Hello, this is the Stalin Residence.

—Hello, Mrs Stalin! My name is Sandy, from TeleOffias. How are you today?

—Well, I was Just sitting down to dinner . . . (it’s all right dear, I’ve got it. )

—Oh, I’m sorry, I can call back in an hour if that’s more convenient?

—No, no. It might as well be now.

—Thankyou Mrs Stalin. I’m just calling as a courtesy to let you know about our new range of products. Now I understand that you purchased some of our products from our previous catalogues, we’re calling to thank you for your support and to let you know about something just on the market here. Now, I’m looking on the notes on our screen and it says you weren’t happy with the last order, is that correct?

—Yes. Sandy, did you say?


—Yes, what happened is that when we opened it and started using it, the lack of instructions made it very difficult to operate effectively. It really didn’t work as well as we had hoped. We were very disappointed and sent it back. But just the other day my husband said that we should give something else a try because before that we were happy. Maybe instead of anarchy, we could try parliamentary democracy?

—Well I’m glad you made use of the guarantee, Mrs Stalin. Now the democracy would be a good option for you; it is much more structured with the rules and it is easier for others to follow. But you must have at least two sides, which makes it a bit more time-consuming.

—Oh, I see. No I think we want something that takes less effort from both of us.

—Well, as I said before, we do have something very new that may suit, Mrs Stalin. It’s been popular overseas; a big seller in the past, and it’s easy to play. It’s a dictatorship.

—A what?

—A dictatorship, Mrs Stalin. One player or team in control of law, the economy and all portfolios, and as an introductory offer we include the military at no extra cost. It’s very powerful, and of course clean. Dictatorships are now made environmentally friendly and fully recyclable. It really is something the whole family can enjoy and can be passed on to your descendants. How does that sound?

—Hmmm, the cost?

—As you are a regular customer, Mrs Stalin, TeleOffas dictatorship – including the military at no extra cost, plus the six-month customer satisfaction guarantee – Is normally priced at 4. 8 million but today it is just 2. 3 million. Of course, as one of our regular customers you’ll receive it within seven days. Will that be cash or credit, Mrs Stalin?

—Credit, I think, and put me down for two – I have in-laws in the US who might appreciate it.

—Really? Wonderful Mrs Stalin. Now if I can just confirm some details? You know, I think Mr Stalin will really take to this one. . .