My wife, Terry, is a details person. Most people reading an article they considered faulty would throw down the magazine and mutter. Terry calls the writer and compares her research with his.
He's going to lose.
I'm the kind of guy who crosses streets, rivers and mountains to avoid confrontation. This is why I hide under my easy chair when Terry reaches for the phone. My nerves can't take hearing the befuddlement coming through the speaker phone.
When Terry punched in numbers while reading the back of a brownie mix packet, I began my slide down the chair.
''Hello, may I have your name and ZIP code, please?'' the sweet-sounding woman at the baked goods corporation said.
''Actually,'' Terry said, ''I just want to know the basis for the warning on this fudge brownie mix that says not to eat raw dough.''
''Most people think it's because of the raw eggs,'' the sweet voice said. ''But it's the uncooked flour that's bad for you.''
''Based on what evidence?''
I slunk lower.
The sweet voice wasn't fazed. ''Let me look that up.'' She pulled up a popular website on which anybody with a computer can post any answer to any question. ''Let's see, it says here that raw flour can hold bacteria. You can get salmonella.''
The sweet voice faltered. ''It probably won't hurt you to sample raw dough in small doses. It's just not good for you.''
''So you have proof?''
''It's an industry standard, ma'am.''
When Terry finally hung up, I crawled from beneath my chair. ''Why can't you just ignore warnings and eat cookie dough like a normal person?''
''That's not the point,'' she said. ''People shouldn't make lots of guesses that become accepted as fact.''
Warning label: Do not toss loose statements at a details person. Don't expect them to do anything the simple way, either.
A research company telemarketer greeted Terry and said, ''May I speak to Burton Cole, please?''
''Who's calling, please?''
He gave his name.
Terry wrote it down while asking the next question: ''From what company?''
I slouched. The kid told her that at the beginning of the call. Terry covered the phone. ''He talked too fast. I cannot use incomplete information.''
The caller gave the company name.
''Can you spell that, please?'' With a couple stumbles, the telemarketer did.
''And what's your phone number?''
''Um ... Hold, please. I'll be right back.'' A minute later, the telemarketer returned and recited a number.
Terry poised her pen. ''And what was your request?''
Now his words were slow and distinct. ''I'd like to speak to Burton Cole.''
''He's unavailable.'' True. I was scrunched beneath my chair. ''I'll give him the message.''
When she handed me her notes, I said, ''Why can't you just say, 'No, thank you' and hang up, like I do?''
''I sought answers so you could make an informed decision on whether to return the call.''
''He had me at hello. No.''
Details give me a headache.
----- Detail solutions to Cole at email@example.com or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.