With blogs and bloggers becoming more important in the media, it’s become common to hear about a blogger interviewed by the New York Times or chatting on the Today show. I don’t want to sound like I have sour grapes, but my opportunities in the “real” media world have been pretty thin. That’s why I jumped out of my chair on Friday when I received an email from the The Dr. Phil Show.
The email began —
“My name is Emily and I work with the Senior Producer at the Dr. Phil Show here at Paramount in LA…”
Emily continued on about some post I had written in 2006 about Sophia’s parents getting ripped off at a local mattress store. She wanted me to call, so we could discuss this post.
Woo-hoo! I imagined fame and fortune and everything that goes with it…
But there was one red flag. The letter was hastily written, with several spelling errors. Was it spam or just written by a very busy individual. I googled Emily and was she legit. My success was back on track.
I took a deep breath before calling the show. I was a little anxious… for a very good reason. I have made fun of Dr. Phil several times on my blog, even mocking his son’s marriage to a Playboy bunny.
Then I remembered that he is a forgiving guy.
“Isn’t that what his show is all about?” I said to myself.
The past is the past. Especially, if the Dr, Phil show wanted me as a guest. I imagined an important show about “Senior Citizen Rip-offs” and Dr. Phil calling me from the audience:
Dr. Phil: “And now, with more ways for seniors to protect themselves against shady mattress store franchises, I’d like to bring up blogger/consumer expert, Neil “Neilochka” Kramer, who writes the hugely-successful blog, Citizen of the Month.”
The female crowd goes wild. Many lift banners and signs, ala American Idol, reading “Take My Bra Off, Neilochka!”
With my mind jam-packed with these vivid images, I called up Emily at her Paramount office. She quickly answered the phone. She was waiting for my call.
For me?! My ego rose to heights never seen before.
“Thank you, thank you for calling back!” she said, somewhat frantically.
Wow! Was the show that desperate to have me as a guest? She seemed almost in awe of me, as if she was on the phone with Tom Cruise, begging him to come on the show for an exclusive interview.
“How can I help you?” I asked, speaking in a deeper than usual voice, trying to hide my New York accent.
“I’m so glad I found you,” she continued. “You see, my boss is in the hospital. A few days ago, she asked me to buy her a new mattress for her home, so I went to Ortho-mattress, and they ended up ripping me off on the price, not promising what they said, and then charging me too much for shipping. The mattress cost hundreds of dollars more than she allocated and now I don’t know what to do. I haven’t told her yet — and I’m afraid of getting fired. So, I googled mattress rip-offs in Los Angeles and found your blog, and I ‘m hoping that you can give me some advice!”
Advice on mattress rip-offs?! So you won’t get fired? This is what the email was all about?! You mean, Dr. Phil didn’t want me ON the show?!
I had this tight feeling in my stomach. I remember the first time I felt it. During grad school, I went out with this cute girl, thinking she wanted to take off my clothes, but all she wanted was to “pick my brain” to learn how she and her boyfriend could find a agent for some sci-fi screenplay they wrote together about a war with some crazed robots.
Luckily, Emily was quite nice, despite her reason for calling me. We talked for fifteen minutes. Well, mostly she talked. She just moved to a new apartment and she couldn’t get fired because she has all these debts, and it wasn’t fair that she got ripped off by the mattress store, and now she has to face the producer, and she is very very nervous…etc. We chatted like old friends, which was odd considering that she just found my blog on a Google search. But maybe Dr. Phil only hires very friendly staff members.
I told Emily that mattress stores are the last refuge of sleazy salesmen. For instance, when you buy a car nowadays, you usually know how much the sticker price is from looking it up on the internet. Sealy and Serta intentionally name the same mattresses different names depending on the store, so it is difficult for the consumer to do a price check. I advised Emily to call the Better Business Bureau, the store’s corporate office, and lastly, to contest the charges with her credit card.
After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I actually WAS helpful. Google DID bring her to the right person to speak to about mattresses. The internet worked.
Dr. Phil, I’m ready for my close-up!
From the archives: An even earlier mattress store story.