The day the troopers association called me

The in basket: A while back I got a call that began, cheerfully, “Hi, this is Matt, calling for the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association.”

Having recently met a local trooper named Matt, I asked if it was he calling.

After about 10 second of silence, “Matt” resumed, giving no indication that he’d heard my question. So I asked again.

Another period of silence, and the voice resumed, again giving no sign I had asked anything, but seeking a donation. I listened long enough to determine that the solicitation seemed legitimate, as he asked permission to send out a donation packet with information on the association. I hung up.

I asked Trooper Russ Winger, my local WSP contact, if it WAS on the level, and whether the trooper named Matt that I had met was the one who called. Also I asked if this was some kind of anticipatory robo-call that presumes to predict what the person called will say and includes a stock one-size-fits-all answer that somehow disguises the fact it’s not a real person calling. And if it was legitimate, why choose such a oddball way of making the request.

The out basket: Yes, it was a legitimate solicitation from the troopers’ association, Russ said. He didn’t know anything about the technology behind the call, but gave me the phone number of the company on the east coast that conducted the campaign.

Matt turned out to be Matt Crow of Ellis-Crow Solutions, and he said he remembers that day (two days, actually) when he was unable to hear what the person called said though they could hear him. “We had a lot of issues and as the day progressed, it got worse and worse,” he said. There were a lot of such calls, so some of you reading this may have gotten one and wondered what on earth it was about.

They use something called Voice Over Internet Protocol to make the calls, Matt said, and those two days it malfunctioned. Though he didn’t seem to be getting any response on the line, he plunged ahead with his spiel, with me, anyway.

The association has a Web site if you want to know more about it. It’s a collective bargaining organization, but also donates to a variety of benevolent groups, the site says, and just now is promoting a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of a WSP employee’s daughter with a rare form of cancer. The site is wspta.org.

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