For 30 years, Chuck Young has lived out in the wilds of Montville Township, a 21-square-mile expanse between the cities of Medina and Wadsworth. He likes his space, likes his peace and quiet.
Young can be a bit crusty. The longtime coin dealer doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and he has virtually no patience for phone solicitors — as one of them discovered a few evenings ago.
Young and his wife were watching TV when his Internet phone rang.
He never calls anyone on that phone. He says he got it as part of a bundled Time Warner package simply because he knew he would get faster repair service if a phone were included in the bundle.
So the VoIP phone sits next to his computer, mainly gathering dust.
“If you said you’d give me a million dollars to tell you the phone number, I don’t know it,” he says.
The phone rings occasionally, and more than occasionally he refuses to pick it up, knowing the caller is most likely a stranger trying to get him to buy something or donate money.
On this particular evening, the caller wasn’t giving up. Exasperated after numerous calls, Young finally picked up and said, “Wadsworth Police Department.”
Turns out the caller was soliciting for AMVETS, a national charity organization. Young told the caller to go away.
The dogged AMVETS solicitor called back, and Young answered the same way. On a third call, the solicitor demanded to know Young’s “badge number.” That conversation was equally brief.
Well, one thing led to another, and a short time later Young heard another unpleasant ring, that of the warning buzzer that sounds inside the house when a car enters his long driveway.
The buzzer sounded twice in rapid succession, and soon Young was looking out at two cruisers belonging to the Montville Police Department.
According to Young, the conversation went something like this:
Young: “What’s the problem?”
Cops: “We were dispatched out here. We thought you had a problem.”
Young: “I don’t have no problem.”
Cops: “How did you answer your house phone?”
Young: “?‘Wadsworth Police Department.’ I do that all the time because I don’t like phone solicitors.”
Having lived in the small community for three decades, Young knew both officers, and quickly their talk turned to other matters, such as Young’s collection of sports cars. The cops soon left, bidding him a good night.
But to Young, 64, a mystery remained unsolved: What on earth did the AMVETS solicitor say to Medina’s dispatch center, which handles calls involving Montville, that prompted the dispatcher to pull two cruisers off the road and send them to his house?
Well, perhaps it had something to do with the flippant response Young gave to the dispatcher, who, he claims, demanded to know, “Who are you and what do you think you’re doing?”
He says he responded, “I don’t need to talk to you” and hung up.
Days later Young was sitting in a cramped room near the back of the sliver of a building he occupies on Main Street in the heart of downtown Wadsworth, the one with the sign reading, “Chuck’s Coin and Gold Exchange. Highest prices paid. Gold, silver and coins.”
He rails against what he sees as an incredible overreaction to his phone-answering technique.
“Ain’t no law against that,” he says. “I mean, I’m not impersonating a police officer.
“Most phone solicitors, if you answer with something stupid like that, they don’t call you back. So that’s why I do it.”
Montville Township Police Chief Terry Grice concurs.
He said the whole thing started when “the guy from AMVETS called our dispatch.” When the dispatcher called Young, he again answered “Wadsworth PD,” then hung up when he found out who was calling, the chief said.
“I think both [officers] went out there just to figure out what was transpiring. But once they found out his side of the story, there was no legal basis, obviously, to do anything.”
Maybe AMVETS should worry a little more about their own business.
A recent ratings guide issued by the respected nonprofit watchdog group CharityWatch gives AMVETS a grade of F, saying not enough of the money collected goes to the programs for veterans it supposedly is funding.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31. Anyone who asks can be his friend. Yes, he’s that needy.