Singles ads are notorious for their sneaky little phrases that mask reality. We all may have learned – perhaps the hard way – that “big boned” generally means obese, “homebody” means couch potato and “mature male” often translates to a guy who is roughly 103. Those seeking “adventuresome” men or women are usually out for kinky sex while a guy who “knows how to treat a woman” probably drags her around by her hair.
Help wanted ads are much the same way. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics telling us the nation’s unemployment rate was still jammed at 9.1 percent as of August, plenty of people who have not yet given up on the job hunt are surely finding their own array of sneaky phrases. As a freelance writer who is always scouring job ads, I have learned to quickly dismiss potential prospects that contain a number of catchy lines.
“Great exposure in international market,” means no pay for writing bobblehead descriptions for a website based in China. “This is a very easy job,” means very little pay, or a rate of about 0.07 cents per word. Any ad that proclaims a job is perfect “for the right person” is sometimes seeking a person who thinks it’s right to be subjected to slave labor, work weekends, evenings and Christmas Day, and count parking the boss’s car as part of their duties.
Tricky phrasing is especially apparent when it comes to job descriptions. No longer is a sales clerk a sales clerk. The position is spiffed up and now called a “store associate” or “retail ambassador.” A busboy has become a “table purification expert” while the poor sap who gets stuck refolding towels after customers unfurl them all over the home department is a “replenishment-merchandising associate.”
Now that people have become wise to Nigerian money scam e-mails and “click here” buttons that infect computers with the latest virus, deceptive online practices are getting sneakier.
One sucked me in the other day, promising I could win $1,000 if I submitted a cute photo of my pet. Since I obsess over my dog Sawyer to the point of probably needing psychological help, I chomped on that offer with a few clicks of the mouse, a submission form, and uploading one of the 5,428 endearing photos I have of the pooch.
One thousand dollars could buy a heck of a lot of dog treats.
The junk e-mail began immediately. I was first encouraged to tell all my friends, family members and people I might have passed on the street 12 years ago to vote for my dog’s endearing photo. After all, I was told, the only way I could win that $1,000 was to amass the most votes from fellow Internet suckers.
Anyone who wanted to vote, of course, had to fill out their own submission form that disclosed their name, e-mail, phone number, blood type, shoe size and date of birth. They would then be immediately slammed with their own set of junk e-mail.
We hate to say it, but you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet – especially when it comes to comments supporting traffic photo enforcement cameras.
Although the red light and speed cameras are despised for a number of reasons, with one of the best likening them to crack cocaine and cities getting addicted to the money they bring in, batches of comments always seem to crop up in support of them.
These supportive comments, seemingly written by real-life citizens with real-life concerns, pop up like buffelgrass on traffic camera articles throughout cyberspace.
Love them or hate them red light cameras work and the more they are debated the more people are aware of them. They should be at every intersection.
What a bunch of baloney, somehow drivers being overly cautious about going through an intersection is more dangerous than some reckless driver blowing through a red light into traffic? I think not. Enforcing our traffic laws deters reckless driving and the more coverage the more deterrence. No number of street cops can match the 24/7 coverage red light cameras provide so let’s use them, the life they save might be your own!
Yogilives’ comment at HuffingtonPost.com, on the article “LA’s Arizona Boycott Makes Exception For Red-Light Camera Operator,” reads:
That anyone would be surprised that LA officials hadn’t thought through the implications of their boneheaded political grandstanding is ridiculous. How exactly would the endangering the lives of Californian’s by refusing to properly and fully enforce our traffic laws benefit ANYONE, Arizonans, Californians Mexicans or Martians? Stay in your lane people, you’re barely qualified to represent the people of LA, let’s not have you muddle things up by getting into Arizona’s business.
In an attempt to perhaps keep spam suspicions at bay, yogilives throws in some local references, colloquial language and even personal details. In one of 18 comments left on sites affiliated with OregonLive.com, yogilives claims to be the father of two school age girls who, of course, will be kept safe for the rest of their lives if only more photo enforcement cameras would be installed at every single intersection across the nation.
What is this, a conspiracy?
You bet – or at least a movement known as “Astroturf lobbying,” which creates “fake grass roots” campaigns full of phony supporters with an ulterior motive in mind.
Money. Money. Money.
While the traffic camera comments may seem silly at best and annoying at worst, they sometimes morph into larger concerns in areas where traffic cameras are still up for discussion – and persuasion.
A November ballot initiative in Mukilteo, Wash., will let voters weigh in on its local traffic camera issues, a Washington State Wire article says.
The initiative lets folks decide if the city should reverse the City Council’s decision to install traffic cameras around town, have public votes on future traffic camera installations, and limit traffic camera fines to $20.
There goes the money, money, money.
A loud, yet mysterious organization, called the Mukilteo Citizens for Simple Government, filed a lawsuit to keep the initiative off the ballot.
“Backers of the initiative say it sure looks like the Arizona company that supplies the town with traffic cameras is behind the whole thing,” the article noted.
In making the charge, the red-light opponents have put Google to work, uncovering a motherlode of websites tailored for every city where a red-light camera initiative has made the ballot, or where automated cameras have come in for serious public scrutiny. In Mukilteo and 17 other cities, each website appears to be sponsored by a citizens’ group; each one uses identical wording on its content pages; each web domain name is owned by the same company, Advarion, Inc., of Houston, TX.
In other states, campaign disclosure documents reveal that Advarion is one of the contractors providing services to pro-camera campaigns financed by American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Ariz. And the main reason these facts must be mentioned in such a roundabout way is that Mukilteo Citizens for Simple Government still hasn’t gotten around to filing campaign disclosure documents with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, which presumably would make its backing clear.
Love them or hate them, scammers and spammers are everywhere.
Thanks to reader Sam Jennings, who sent me an e-mail noting,”I found it hard to believe that many people LOVE these cameras so I dug a bit, and that’s what I find happening everywhere. I feel people should know it’s not genuine.”
What do you think?
Have you fallen for any Internet scams?
Would you admit it if you did?
Do you think Jane Smith, yogilives or giggley will comment on this article?
Do you think traffic cameras should be at every intersection?
The Internet is by far the fastest and most far-reaching way to spread news, views, shoe sale announcements – and scams.
A couple of hounds got me over the weekend.
Well, I’m not sure if this was really a scam, but rather a case of misinformation.
The misinformation came in the form of an e-mail from a Florida friend of mine regarding two dogs in that needed a new home.
FWD: Subject: ANY PET LOVERS LOOKING FOR TWO LABS?
Subject: Seeking Home for 2 Family Dogs – Two gorgeous labs trained. If you can’t help, please forward & thank you!
The message goes on to outline these perfectly trained, good-with-kids, healthy and microchipped 3-year-old dogs whose family is moving overseas in two weeks. They must stay together or their hearts will break. Help!
It ends with a plea from the alleged owner:
I pray that someone, somewhere can help us keep Cookie and Coco together, and love them just as much as we do. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. email@example.com
Not bothering to check into it, of course – why would this be a hoax? – I promptly posted it on my Facebook account. My intent was to serve as an angelic helping hand that could assist in finding these two perky pooches a loving abode.
I promptly deleted it, wholly chagrined, when more than one person commented that it had been a scam circulating on the Internet for quite some time.
My friend Paul did a simple check on Snopes.com and passed along the info that, while this plea for a new home was true when it first appeared on a pet blog in January, the dogs have since been merrily adopted.
Several folks usually ask: “Are people that gullible – or just that dumb?”
It’s a mixture of both. It’s also a matter of tugging at our heartstrings or telling us things we want to believe. Oh, the poor doggies.
The only damage done by Cookie and Coco, as far as I know, was making me feel like a heel.
Other e-mails, however, could bleed us dry if we fell for them.
Here’s one I found in my inbox this morning:
Subject: DEAL 50/50
An Iraqi made a fixed deposit of $6.5m usd in my bank branch (Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong) where am a director and he died with his entire family in the war leaving behind no next of kin, I’m ready to share 50/50 with you if you choose to stand as my deceased client next of kin. If interested mail me at the address below:
Yes, we want to believe we can get rich quick – but I doubt contacting Wong Tang is the way to go about it.
A third category of dubious e-mails is the urban legend, like this one I received last week:
Subject: Cookie Recipe
THIS IS A TRUE STORY!
My daughter and I had just finished a salad at a Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas, and we decided to have a small dessert.
Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the Neiman-Marcus cookie.
It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe, and the waitress said with a small frown, “I’m afraid not, but you can buy the recipe.”
Well, I asked how much, and she responded, “Only two fifty – it’s a great deal!”
I agreed to that, and told her to just add it to my tab.
The saga continues with the woman receiving her credit card statement with a charge for $250 – not the $2.50 she expected for the cookie recipe. She tries to make it right, but the department store’s accounting department tells her she’s SOL.
To get even, the woman is sharing the complete cookie recipe with everyone she knows – and please forward it to everyone you know to help her get even.
Yes, we want to believe we can help avenge the “little guy” who was taken by “big, bad corporate America.”
The cookie recipe story is actually a recirculation of another notable urban legend, says Snopes.com, one that started some 50 years ago with a Velvet Cake.
Outright scams and outdated dog listings aside, urban legends do serve a couple of purposes. They both warn and amuse us.
So laugh all you want – but don’t get taken for a ride. And don’t try to adopt Cookie and Coco, as they’ve already found a home.
What do you think?
Have you ever been taken for a ride by an e-mail or other Internet rumor, urban legend or scam?
Would you admit it if you were?
P.S. I told my friend who sent the Cookie and Coco message about the situation. His response: “I skeptically figure most such emails are scams and so don’t fwd them, but they were DOGS for God’s sake, with cute names and sad (adopt us please) faces! They totally got me cuz I’m a dog lover.” Heartstrings strike once again.
P.P.S. Any e-mail that begins with “THIS IS A TRUE STORY!” most likely isn’t.