Dave Barry Has Left the Building

It seems that Dave Barry doesn't like telephone calls much. Or e-mails. But he does like the U.S. Postal Service. So if you want to tell him thanks for his recent love letter to telemarketers, you'll have to write a letter. He's pretty much above any more direct contact than that. The Miami Herald columnist wrote that the public hates the telemarketing industry "even more than it hates France, low-flow toilets or 'customer service.' " He then urged his readers to call the American Teleservices Association and included the ATA's toll-free number. Since then, ATA executive director Tim Searcy said the organization has been inundated with calls by the thousands.

A fan must have notified Barry of our online story last week because there was a message posted from him on his Web site: "Gosh, that must have been awful! Imagine! Receiving unwanted phone calls! Without warning! How could anyone DO such a thing?" The Herald also wrote a follow-up story. " 'I feel just terrible, especially if they were eating or anything,' " the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author said Wednesday. " 'They have phones like the rest of us have phones. Their attitude seems to be if you have a phone, people are allowed to call you.' " The Herald likes to mention Barry's Pulitzer Prize whenever it can, but oddly leaves out references to "Dave's World."

Interestingly, trying to contact Barry for follow-up questions isn't as easy as it may seem. His Web site doesn't include a way to contact him, though it does sell "Dave Barry for President" T-shirts and bumper stickers. The Herald's Web site features a section on Barry that says, "The way to reach Dave is to write him a letter, using the U.S. Disgruntled Postal Worker Service." (Hmm, is he trying to help the postal service boost First-Class mail volume?) It then says you can't send him an e-mail because it clogs up his computer, so you should write a letter. But if you really, desperately, urgently need to get in touch with him, you can call a number at the Herald. However, calling that number pretty much will lead you on a wild goose chase.

We tracked down Barry at his home number (no, we won't print it) and found out that: one, he is more cordial over the telephone than his answering machine messages would leave you to believe; two, cute witticisms don't flow out of his mouth every time he opens it; and, three, he really, really hates telemarketers.

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