adrian is rad


a secret but mostly harmless (though slightly wasteful) story from my childhood

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:24 am

I don’t think anyone but my brother and I know about this. Maybe my parents knew, but I’m not sure. This story takes place after we moved to Pittsburgh, but before my brother entered high school, I think, so that’d put it in the 1989 to 1992 range.

When we were young we watched some TV, especially during those gloriously long summers between school years. There’d be commercials and they’d say “Call this toll free and we’ll send you a free informational video!” (Or information packet, or any number of other things.) And we’d say “Free video? That’s awesome!” and so we’d call up that 1-800 number and ask for the free stuff that they wanted to send people. A few days later it’d arrive.

(I have no memory of doing anything with most of the stuff once it arrived. The moment was finding it in the mailbox.)

We got information packets. We got a video about those beds that adjusted and tilted and whatnot with motors. We even got the Book of Mormon, which we gave to my mom, and though she tried to seem appreciative of the “present” we could tell she didn’t want it. (Looking back, that has to be among the top five most awkward presents I’ve ever given.)

I remember the day we stopped. There was an ad for a hair loss clinic on the TV. They wanted people to call to get their video cassette, so we did.

Here’s how that conversation went:

Brother: Yes, we’d like the free video from the commercial.

Operator: Uh, how old are you? Why don’t you have your dad call?

Brother: Oh, he doesn’t want the video. He’s got hair.

Operator: Why are you calling then? Do you know someone else that’s losing his hair?

Brother: No, we just like getting free stuff in the mail.

Operator: Oh. Oh! Well, then! <mumble>


And so ended our foray into free promotional materials.

3 Responses to “a secret but mostly harmless (though slightly wasteful) story from my childhood”

  1. Colin Says:

    Nice. I remember calling “Hooked on Phonics” as a joke from a pay phone at the high school sometime between 1993 and 1996. I think you had to be 18 to call. Anyway, they foiled my plan when they asked what my birthday was and it took me too long to make up a birthday that would have made me at least 18. Oh well.

  2. mummy Says:

    I just about fell off my chair laughing. Did you know that Paul got onto the web to inquire about Jags (i.e. Jaguars), and the very next day Sandra was fielding calls from the UK? Just as well, I did not have to handle that. (Although I do remember Volkweins calling about the saxophone that we had bought….. all I could think of was the basement full of instuments that we had. )

  3. Patrick Says:

    That’s pretty funny Adrian. I remember calling the Phillip Morris corporation (I think it was them) several times when they were handing out free copies of the US Constitution.

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