the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Dr. Phil

The Mattress Expert


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.

Dr. Phil’s Son Engaged to Playboy Triplet


The son of TV psychologist Dr. Phil has proposed to former Playboy playmate Erica Dahm, one of the triplet Dahm sisters.  McGraw is a best-selling author of self-help books himself.

Dahm exclaimed, "Oh gosh, is this real?" after the Aug. 26 proposal, Hayes said.

The couple will wed in Los Angeles but the date was not revealed.

Jay McGraw designed the 5-carat diamond, emerald and platinum engagement ring.


Jay McGraw is best known for writing the best-selling Life Strategies for Teens, which was positioned as an youthful offshoot of Dr. Phillip McGraw’s popular "Life Strategies." 


The book’s back cover explains Jay Mcgraw’s aim in speaking directly to today’s teens:

Are you as tired as I am of books constantly telling you about doing your best to understand your parents, doing your homework, making curfew, getting a haircut, dropping that hemline, and blah, blah, blah?

Well, you don’t have to be anymore.  Life Strategies for Teens is the first guide to teenage  life that won’t tell you what to do, or what to be, but rather how to live life best. Employing the techniques from Dr. Phillip C. McGraw’s Life Strategies, his son Jay provides teens with the Ten Laws of Life, which make the journey to adulthood an easier and more fulfilling trip.

I think it is great when a self-help author helps today’s youth.  Dr. Phil should be proud.


I especially respect Jay McGraw for practicing what he preaches, using his own "techniques" in his own life to inspire others.  

In fact, here are the top four "Laws of Life," as outlined in this well-received best-seller (not really):

Rule # 1)   Kids, if you want an excellent life, this is very important because everything flows from this, so listen carefully.  Make sure your father gets to go on Oprah, because that will make him famous and give him the opportunity to have his own TV show.   

Rule #2)   Once your father has his own TV show, have him put his name and face on some unhealthy candy bars to sell to "fat people" even if your father is a bit on the hefty side himself.  Make even more money.

Rule #3)  Use your father’s connections to write you own book on the same subject — but for teens — (even though you don’t really have the qualifications) and take a job hosting some dumb reality show like "Renovate My Family."  Don’t let it bother you that everyone just calls you Mr. Your Father’s Name’s son.

Rule #4)   At a certain point, you’re going to want to share your love with someone special.  Look for a soulmate that will complete you, someone that brings respect and dignity to your relationship — someone like one of the Playboy magazine "triplets."  This way, when you fantasize about your wife’s hot sisters, it’s not really "cheating."

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