Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How To Get Telemarketers To Stop Calling.

Back in the days before home phones became known as "land lines" there were certain types of "irritants" who made their living as "telemarketers". Man, those were great days! 5-disc CD changers were the height of cutting edge. VHS still reigned supreme, giddy with the heady rush of its momentous besting of Beta. The INTERNET was yet an Al Gore wank fantasy.

Fuck blogs! In those days we had Journals! (or Diaries, if you were 12 and a girl) And who read those journals? NO ONE! Those were secret thoughts! We hoarded and kept hidden our inner-most inklings. Our deepest desires, too illicit and dangerous to elaborate were kept wedged firmly between mattress and box spring. Or futon and frame... No one is here to judge.

Our mundane comings and goings were just that: mundane. When I was sitting in the dentist's waiting room, that's ALL I DID. I couldn't tweet that shit because I was not a fucking bird. Facebook was just a face in a book.

So our "land lines" were the only thing keeping us tethered to the outside world. Got an emergency? Call 911! Psycho killer after you? He already cut the phone line! Run away!

Along with the convenience of a designated hard line to tie you in to the rest of society as a whole came the inconvenience of someone calling you at inopportune moments, usually begging for money. So Caller ID was invented. A part of me wonders how much cold calling could have been avoided if the subscription cost of Caller ID could have been passed off to phone beggars, just to keep them from getting hold of me. Just a thought.

Regardless. I found myself the owner of a phone bill. I'd get calls, usually in the evening, after business hours. You could usually tell the nature of the call from the lag between when you said "hello" to the callers response:

"..... [clack, pause, shuffle] Hello, may I speak to Mr. Sullivan?"

You got 'em pal. I'd listen politely, decline politely, and get on with my day as quickly as possible. This did not discourage their ilk.

Eventually, I couldn't take it.

I don't want a subscription. I can't donate. How did the local Socialist party HQ get my number? True story.

One evening, I fielded a call:


"May I speak with... Mr... Sutherland?"

"Who is calling?"

I listened once again to the pitch. Drastic measures had to be taken:

Me: "[sighs heavily] Oooh. Yeah, see... here's the thing. Brandon died this past weekend in a car crash. I'm here taking care of his effects. I'm sure wherever he is now he doesn't need your service(s). No offense, you might want to take him off your list."

Sometimes I could actually hear the caller cringing on the other side of the line. Eventually I learned to relish that tiny sound.

What I Learned:

Tell enough people you're dead for a long enough time, and soon enough they start to believe it. I'm getting ready to deploy this technique on my stalker.

I didn't mention I have a stalker? Well, it's true. I'm being stalked. It's the strangest thing though, because all she wants to talk about is my student loans. Weird, huh?

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