BROOKLINE, MA–Irene Fowles was offended by a telemarketer who called during the dinner hour Tuesday, raising the total number of times the 56-year-old homemaker had been offended that day to four.
"I simply could not believe the nerve of that so-and-so, calling just as my husband and I were finally sitting down to the nice meal I had prepared," Fowles told reporters gathered in front of her suburban Boston home. "Imagine harassing decent people in the middle of their private time like that. How dare he?"
Fowles' mark of four falls short of the all-time Boston-area single-day offense-taking record of seven, set by Somerville secretary Florence Bullock in 1981. It is, however, a personal best for Fowles, who on a daily basis is forced to endure slights, rebuffs, affronts, and astonishing gall from a wide range of sources.
The first instance of offense took place at 9:20 a.m. while Fowles was watching the syndicated talk show Leeza. The topic of the show was Charles Manson, and Fowles was shocked to learn of a subculture of youths who greatly admire the serial killer, sending him fan mail and buying T-shirts and posters bearing his image.
"'Outraged' is too mild a word to describe my reaction when I heard this," Fowles said. "'Sickened' is more like it. How can anyone admire that evil man? It deeply disturbs me that with all the millions of unsung heroes out there, like teachers and paramedics and neighborhood-watch people, young people would worship a monster like Charles Manson. And Leeza's not much better herself for giving these wackos a forum to air their twisted views. Shame on her."
The disapproval continued approximately three hours later when Fowles stopped by First Boston Savings & Loan to withdraw money for grocery shopping. Though the bank was nearly empty, the area facing the tellers' windows was elaborately roped off.
"After filling out my withdrawal slip, I worked my way through the ropes," Fowles said. "I felt a little silly winding through them when I could have directly walked to a teller window, but I felt I was supposed to."
Before Fowles could reach the teller windows, however, a man entered the lobby and walked directly to the teller window, where he was immediately served.
"That really got my goat," Fowles said. "Obviously, I was there in the line before the man, but because I followed the rules, I was the one who got the short shrift. The worst part is, when I complained to the teller, she said she didn't see what happened. It's bad enough that the guy cuts in front of me, but then, when a representative of the very institution whose ropes I'm walking through at their request doesn't even seem to care, well, that's when I really must take issue."
Added Fowles: "I wonder if the real reason I got ignored is because I'm a woman."
After an unexpectedly umbrage-free trip to the supermarket, Fowles returned home, only to be "taken aback" by the realization that that her friend Shirley Reynolds, a 48-year-old registered nurse and Tupperware representative, had neglected to place a Tupperware catalog in her mailbox as promised.
"The new Tupperware catalogs were supposed to be out on the 25th, and Shirley knew that I want to order some new CrystalWave microwave bowls, since my daughter Lindsay took my original ones," Fowles said. "I must have told Shirley on at least on three separate occasions that when the new catalogs come out, please stick one in my mailbox. Well, she promised me she would on Tuesday afternoon, but when I got home, no catalog. That really steamed me."
"Friendly favors aside," Fowles continued, "if you're in the Tupperware business, you should take care of your customers. Especially when they're perfectly capable of going out to Wal-Mart and buying some Pyrex or Rubbermaid bowls–for less money, I might add. Unless, of course, Shirley's doing so well as a Tupperware representative that I'm not important enough a customer to be considered worthy of a catalog."
As of press time, it is not known how Fowles will respond to the various offenses. Fowles' husband, however, said she will likely seek satisfaction through indirect reproach.
"Irene's forever writing letters to the editor, filling out comment cards, and complaining to assistant managers," said Dean Fowles, 59. "But four offenses in one day is remarkable even for her. She's loaded for bear, let me tell you."
In the past, Fowles has been offended by a wide range of matters, including the Clinton-Lewinsky imbroglio, the adult humor content on Fox's That '70s Show, and not being asked to make something for her church's July 1998 bake sale.
Dick Hollingsworth, president of the Dallas-based courtesy-advocacy group Of All The Incredible Nerve, sympathized with Fowles.
"When I heard about the many indignities Irene suffered, I rolled my eyes and clucked my tongue disapprovingly," Hollingsworth said. "It's all very typical, isn't it? Absolutely no regard for how the other person might feel. Just an hour ago, I looked outside at the parking lot and saw these kids sitting on my car waiting for the bus. Just sitting on my car like it was a park bench! The nerve. And have you seen that Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats commercial where the man's arm is ripped off his body in the subway? Whose idea of humor is that? Certainly not mine. I have to be subjected to this kind of trash day in and day out, and I'm fed up. Well, Kellogg's is going to get one angry letter from me, let me tell you."