Call Me Fed Up
In the classic Buffalo Springfield song, “For What It’s Worth” the band sang, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” Now, I don’t know if whatever’s happening is only happening at my house or throughout the entire Crescenta Valley. It could be happening all across L.A. County and even Southern California for all I know. But what’s exactly clear is, I’ve had enough.
For the past couple of months, we’ve been deluged with unsolicited, unwanted and unwelcome sales calls to our unlisted home phone number. Unbelievable. We’re getting at least one, if not two or three, of these calls every day and they’re all very similar in nature. Why, it’s almost as if the callers are reading from the same script. Nah, ya think?
Although there are two basic versions of the calls, each one begins identically. My phone rings, I pick it up and say hello. There’s a silent pause with some static. After I say hello one or two times more and am just about to hang up, I hear background babble of other voices making outbound calls from what I assume are countless cubicles filled with soulless headset-wearing telephone marketers. Within seconds, the soulless headset-wearing telephone marketer assigned to my number wakes up, and in a fake-friendly voice says, “James?”
Okay, there are only two people in my life who have ever called me James. One was my dear departed father, who often preceded my given name with a choice expletive or two, followed by a detailed description of how I’d screwed something up beyond all repair or redemption. The other person is a great friend who calls every so often just to catch up. Ray called me this morning as I was writing this, in fact. When I hear his voice say, “Well, James …” I know I’m in for a wonderful time of fellowship and reconnection. When I hear anyone else use my proper name, however, I know a sales pitch is coming.
In pitch version number one, the caller is someone who supposedly talked to me “back in January” about possible remodeling or roofing or painting or plumbing or landscaping, or … well, I didn’t have any work for them at the time, but I supposedly asked them to call me back at the end of summer. Right. Sure I did.
In the second version, the caller excitedly explains that their company is finishing up working on one of my neighbors’ homes and only going to be in the neighborhood another couple of days, but because I’m fortunate to be in the same neighborhood, they’d like to give me a free estimate for any possible remodeling or roofing or painting or plumbing or … you get the idea.
The first dozen or so of these calls I simply said, “No, thank you” and hung up. Then I just hung up. Eventually, I began telling my telephonic tormentors that I had already heard the exact same words dozens of times. Now they hang up on me.
This past Sunday as my wife and I were discussing an inspirational morning at church, our phone rang. You guessed it – Pitch Number One. I asked the pleasant sounding woman who interrupted our Sunday calm why she was telling me something that simply wasn’t true. Her tone instantly flipped from friendly to snarky and she actually said, “What am I supposed to say, ‘I lost my dog and want to come over and look for it in your yard?’” Then she hung up.
You’re probably thinking, why doesn’t he just let the phone ring? Yeah, why not? Well, as I’ll most likely write about another time, there’s an overwhelming, Pavlovian-like strand of my DNA that absolutely, positively must answer a ringing phone if at all possible. In other words, I’m a telemarketer’s dream.
Unfortunately, it looks like they’ve found me.
I’ll see you ’round town.