Disclaimer: We all hate telemarketers. Theirs is a job that society is allowed to loathe without feeling bad, but I’m not unsympathetic. It’s a lousy job that probably pays poorly and it’s a job where you expect failure at almost every turn, I’d imagine. People lie to you, hang up on you mid-sentence, and generally try to avoid you. I’ve never been mean or rude to a telemarketer on purpose, but. . .
Caller ID rules! It has saved me countless hours of phone chit-chat with strangers preying upon my human decency while trying to pry open my wallet. I’ve saved probably at least a couple hundred bucks by simply not answering the phone. It works wonders for our bottom line, if not theirs.
My big kid is now into answering the phone. Cool. We’ve taught him not to lie, and we still haven’t taught him to say “no, my mom’s not home” while looking me in the eyes. I remember being mystified by my parents’ directive to me as a child before the caller ID days–my mom would clench her jaw and intone in a deadly serious, yet almost silent and scary-as-all-get-out manner, “I”M NOT HOME.” I’m 10, so I’m like, “yeah, she told me to say she’s not home.” I don’t know who she was avoiding back in the day, and it’s no doubt safer not to ask. Anyway, this evening big kid scores a telemarketer who asks to speak to his mother, and he hands me the phone. Thanks, Son. Here’s what I said:
OK, sir, I’d love to be able to help you out, but before you go into your spiel, I’m going to stop you. I am not going to donate money to your cause, however worthy (it is worthy). My son was diagnosed with a horrible disease last month, and every disposable nickel we have is going to get funneled there pretty much from here on.
His response: God bless you, ma’am. Click.
The words were out before I even fully weighed them, and no one was more surprised than me that I’d spilled it quite like that. I didn’t lie, I didn’t hang up on him, and I wasn’t rude. Neither was he, poor guy.