Can You Call Back Later?

15 Mar

After a fairly quiet morning, my phone just rang. I was struck by an initial blast of panic because I hate talking on the phone, except to a select group of people that includes Gerard, my Mom and other close family members. According to the display, it was a long-distance call but no number was available to be displayed.

The only reason I answered was that my Mom had told me my brother might call.

It was not my brother. It was a telemarketer.

This is what the conversation went like:

Me: Hello?

Telemarketer: Hello, this is Rajid from ABC Windows and Doors. How are you today?

Me: I’m fine thank you, how are you?

Telemarketer: I’m fine, thank you for asking.

Me (interjecting quickly but politely to avoid having to listen to the sales pitch): To save us both time, I’d like to mention that I am not interested in buying anything right now.

Telemarketer: Oh no, I’m not trying to sell you anything. I just want to offer you a special price on our windows and doors, for this week only.

OK, did I miss something here? The man tells me that he’s not selling me anything. In the very next sentence he tells me that he wants to sell me something. Whoever wrote the script manual for that telemarketing company should probably look for a new job.

Despite the fact that we are on all kinds of Do Not Call lists, we get our share of telemarketing calls. I deal with them by getting rid of them as quickly but politely as possible (they may be annoying, but they’re just doing their job, and it costs nothing to be nice), or more commonly, by simply not answering the phone.

Gerard has a very different approach. He likes to engage them in conversation and have a little fun messing with them (not in a malicious way; he’s never mean to them).

Several years ago a very nice lady called us – strangely enough, it was also to sell windows and doors. “Would you mind calling back a little later?” Gerard asked sweetly. “I’m in the middle of having sex with my wife.”

Cripes. Even though there was no-one to actually see me (apart from Gerard), I still turned beet-red.

Then there was the time someone called to tell us that James had completed a suvery and won a three-night stay in a hotel in Mexico, and that he would just have to listen to a three-hour time-share presentation. We informed the caller that the then 16-month-old James did not have the writing skills to complete a survey, and that the presenter would have to stop mid-way through his talk to change a diaper.

More recently, we got a call from a guy selling alarm systems, who was so persistent that it was almost admirable. Eventually, Gerard told him that we didn’t need an alarm system because we would simply shoot anyone who started stealing our stuff. The poor guy spent a whole thirty minutes on the phone discussing the merits of alarm systems vs. guns. Ten out of ten for perseverance.

I think I might have a new way of dealing with telemarketers: I will simply give the phone to James (yes, the same James who at 16 months, won a three-night stay – as yet unredeemed – in a Mexican hotel). James has, it would seem, inherited Gerard’s propensity for saying outrageous things.

Telemarketers of the future, beware.

(Photo credit:



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