11.04.2005

An Audience of One


At no other time in history has an invention made people more rude and invasive into the privacy of one’s own world than the telephone. Well, maybe the leaf blower, but much has been said about that already by others. The word “telephone” comes from the Sanskrit root words “tele” which means “bringer” and “phone” which means “of evil and terrible things that will take away everything you hold dear.”
Yes, the telephone revolutionized the world, but it also revolutionized rudeness. This rudeness is subtle, because it happens all the time and it is hoped by the by the rude-ers that it will be accepted by the rude-ees. This rude behavior is displayed when a person representing someone (or something!) dials random numbers to talk to people they don’t know to get them to do something they most likely don’t want to do. Ah yes! You guessed it! I am talking about telemarketing, BUT I am not going to rant about how evil the practice is as much as how to deal with it.

“ONLY SAY HELLO ONCE”

The first path to take is not to get involved. You may pick up a ringing phone and say “hello” once and then if someone doesn’t answer right away – HANG UP QUICKLY! I have warned my friends and family that they should constantly scream my name after they dial my number just so my swift reflexes don’t cut them off. Those that constantly stay on the phone and say “hello” just deserve to get money sucked out of them, because this is what happens:

(Computer dials phone number)
(Phone rings)
Honest Hard Working American: Hello?
(Computer picks up signal that someone answered)
HHWA: Hello?
(Computer relays call to National Telemarketing Firm of Evil)
HHWA: Hello? Is anyone there?
(NTFofE gets notice of call and relays notice to one of their thousands upon thousands of underlings)
HHWA: Hellooooooooo?
(An underling gets the notice and screeches of joy from surrounding underlings of “We got one!” are loud and devilish until the underling of choice quiets them down.)
Underling: Yessss. Iz Mizter Smith available? gollum
HHWA: This is he.
Underling: (suppressing joy) Mizter Smith, I am authorized to offer you a credit card with a
50% APR, a $25 annual fee, with a credit line of up to $4. Now, I need to confirm your information that you live at . . .

The conversation goes into the Underling telling Mr. Smith everything about himself, like some sort of freelance psychic forcing his craft on you. This is largely passed up as normal and very legal. What one should do is say phrases like:

“How did you get this number??” and “How did you know that? Who do you work for?!!!!!”
It is important to sound as paranoid as possible. If they continue to talk to you, try shouting away from the phone saying:

“Riley! Johnson! We gotta move! We’ve been located! GO!” and then hang up OR add the following Hollywood-sounding vendetta:

"So, you found us, huh Jackson? Well, we’ll see who will be laughing when the Alatarzycophlox is activated! Tell your partner I hope he enjoyed his CHEESEBALL! Bwaa Ha Ha Haaaaaaa!!!!”


“DO NOT USE CREDIBLE THREATS”

Do not mention actual existing weapons such as bombs, mines or guns. Also, only say something that is pretty vague that could be taken several different ways. There is no need to have your phone number flagged by the NSA and a government kill-truck on route to your door. It’s just not worth it.

Now, if you have time and you are ready (which most of us don’t and aren’t) you can entertain the person of the other side with your keen wit and charm to annoy them to no end. Telemarketers are trained to talk fast and to keep you from saying as much as possible, so whenever they *have* to let you answer, begin this way: (Country accent optional) “Well, gee, this is a coincidence, because I was just talking to Marge and she said that she got a call like this about two weeks ago. At first I didn’t believe her that someone would just randomly call her and offer her a credit card, because after the Ackersons moved out of her duplex, she got into a lot of money problems, but the compensation checks from the Workman’s Comp agency did really well to help keep her on her feet after the accident that tore her rotator cuff and …”
It is extremely important to try to keep this up in a constant stream of banter because any sudden stop will invite them to interrupt. Now it is possible to interrupt them back by saying “I wasn’t finished!” but they will most likely ignore you can give you a 1-800 number to call if you are interested in what they have.

“REPEAT THE NUMBER INCORRECTLY”

After getting it right after the third time, say (sans country accent) “Hey wait! That spells out 1-800-HOT-CHIK, just what kind of thing are you trying to pull, I lead a Sunday school class for crying out loud! You aught to be AH-SHAAAAMED of yourself, MIS-TER Onion Picklesworth!” At this point, you don’t have to hang up, but I recommend it. Sometimes, if you’re strong enough, you can try to go for their reaction as your reward, but you will most likely be disconnected when you start tittering. It’s a much better end if the freak (you) leave first in the whole cannon of the conversation.

You can then hope that your confrontation with the underling will discourage them from such a line of work and maybe take up a more dignified profession such as Professional Wrestling or wearing costumes in front of Auto Dealerships.


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