Sow’s Ear: "The world is too much with us"
April 14, 2006
by Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.
As the poet said, “The world is too much with us.” Especially the world of telephone sales people.
What kind of desperate personality hires on to spend eight hours a day deliberately annoying, irritating and infuriating other people? What sort of warped psyche possesses an individual who earns his or her living by absorbing insults, verbal abuse and foul language on a daily basis? Is this healthy?
For no more income than what phone solicitors take home, they may as well stop bothering folks and take up ranching as a livelihood. As ranchers, they’d only have to put up with abuse from environmentalists, animal rights groups, land developers and wolves.
I’ll wager I’m not the only one who is called when I’m: a) still in my bed, b) sitting on the throne), c) taking a nap, d) in the middle of a meal or e) all of the above. How does a person combat these intrusions?
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1) Hang up immediately.
2) Politely inform the caller you don’t “do business” on the phone.
3) Impolitely tell the caller to “go take a flying leap.”
4) Even more impolitely yell something gross and bang the receiver.
5) Threaten lawsuits.
6) In a sultry voice tell the caller (if it’s a male) that you are totally unclad and is this a problem for him? Vice-versa if the caller is female and you are a male.
7) Breathe heavily but say nothing.
8) Recite the alphabet in Chinese.
9) Break into heart-rending sobs and tell the caller how your cat died.
10) Ask the caller to listen and then read him/her the latest cattle-auction prices.
11) Ask the caller to stand by, you’re having a baby.
There are many, many, many more suggestions on how to respond to phone sales people. Some responses are too offensive even to suggest. Others require more time than I care to invest in playing this silly game. Can nothing be done?
I just learned that yes, there is a way to thwart, defy and stop the invasion of my space. Already I can feel my blood pressure improving. My peace of mind may be restored. Instead of the reserved, cold tone I’ve learned to use because of fear of sales hassle, I can once again answer with warmth.
What and where is this slayer of phone dragons?
Driven to crazed hostility after the last sales pitch person wanted to speak to my deceased spouse, I did some research and lo, I discovered the answer lies with the telephone company. Duh. Right there in the front of the phone book is a page bearing a form to fill out and send in. From now on my telephone traffic will belong to me. Had I been smart enough to investigate earlier or take time to read my phone book (which has all sorts of helpful appendixes), I’d have saved myself a lot of headaches.
As I grow more crotchety in my crone years, I find I have less and less tolerance for what I term “piranha people.” Next I’m going after e-mail banners.