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Mike Tasos: The best gift I could give would be helping this telemarketer find new path
Photo Toa Heftiba, Unsplash

First things first. Before the ball was snapped, I fumbled. Shanked an easy field goal. Missed a wide-open receiver.

In other words: I choked.

You astute readers who pointed out the flub cut me to the quick. When the pastor pointed out that it is Christ The Redeemer Catholic Church where the curtain went up and unveiled the breathtaking new church in Dawsonville, it made me wonder if I was about to be traded to another parish.

Mike Tasos
I’m hoping the castigation and dirty looks from fellow parishioners will be at a minimum. 

I thought snagging extra tags off the Giving Tree would offer a chance at redemption.

No such luck. Those generous folks went through the gift-request tags faster than stampeders decimated food at the re-opened Golden Corral.

This is a “feel good” time of year. I have pledged to give locally this year. I want to be generous but want those around these parts to benefit. There are plenty of needy folks stretching the financial limits of worthwhile organizations in Forsyth and Dawson.

And even though 2020 has made us step in it, opportunities to lend a hand sometime come in the most unexpected places.

Prakesh Kumar.

What’s a “Prakesh Kumar” you ask? Remember that name and read on There’s a chance you’ll meet your own “Prakesh” during this holiday time. 

I have a well-known affinity for tormenting telemarketers. Papa Kenny and I spent many an afternoon fielding calls from these vermin and coming up with all sorts of ways to get in their kitchens.

Enable the speakerphone function and fire up a fine cigar on a Friday afternoon. It was like we were on a fishing excursion, waiting to land a lunker. 

Inevitably, we’d get a call from the IRS, Microsoft or the Social Security Administration. Please stop reading if you’ve never received one of these calls.

Like many, I simply cannot resist playing along and acting like I was going to comply with their hilarious requests for money, gift cards, or access to my computer.

My silly questions (“Can a mongoose really beat the hell out of a cobra?”) brought the phone festivities to an abrupt halt. 

Last Friday, Prakesh was doing his job when I received an email from Amazon. Someone in Pennsylvania bought an 85-inch TV and around $6,000 worth of electronics. My Amazon account had been breached. All Prakesh wanted was access to my computer so he could “correct” this injustice.

At this point, Prakesh was claiming his name was “Jim.” I played along for a bit but became bored. I told him I needed a favor before, tasking him with preventing those nasty internet pirates from plucking my accounts like last Thursday’s bird.

Sensing a payday, “Jim” was willing to do anything to get a Georgia hayseed to help the local Delhi economy. But first, I needed a favor.

Channeling Rudyard Kipling, I asked him if he would mind going into the water closet, sticking his head in the loo and giving it a good flush.

“If you do it right, you’ll give yourself a gorgeous swirly. You’ll be a Delhi fashion plate,” was my sincere advice. I then asked why he did what he did, separating honest, gullible people from their money?

Then, the most amazing thing happened: Prakesh came clean, admitting he did not, indeed, work for Amazon. He was paid $50-$100 if he landed a big whale and made bank for his company. He hated doing what his job required. 

Even more amazing: Prakesh wept. 

“I quit that job. It wasn’t me. I hated doing that to people. Thank you for taking the time to help me.”
- Prakesh Kumar

Mindful of the season upon us, it was the perfect time to reach someone on the other side of our shared planet. I told him I could tell he was a good person to know his line of work was wrong. 

He wept some more, speaking of the pressures of getting a job, settling down and marrying in Indian society. I offered to help by contacting Marriott to see if there might be opportunity for work there.

I went to work on this, knowing Prakesh needed kindness. I instructed him to phone me the next day and I would apprise him of my progress. 

I had no definitive job leads to pass along. Besides, who was I kidding? I’d never hear from him again.

He called early Saturday morning. Knocked me right out of his socks.

Then he took my breath away. “I quit that job. It wasn’t me. I hated doing that to people. Thank you for taking the time to help me.” My throat was lumpy.

I’m still trying to make a job connection for Prakesh. He’s a college graduate and just another cog in the Covid-affected economy.

It’s not December and my Christmas list is complete. I no longer want an 85-inch TV. Instead, I want Prakesh to find a job that makes him smile instead of weep. 

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other weekend. Comments can be sent to He is also on Facebook.