Day 11: Telemarketers are people too

How can you perform a good deed without leaving the house? This was my dilemma today as I was working in my home office from dawn till dusk.

I discovered that there is one way but it’s so fraught with peril I would only recommend it to those who have lion taming or snake charming experience. What is this high-risk good deed, you ask? Being nice to a telemarketer.

Here’s what happened. I live in a neighbourhood where long-distance calls have a different ring than other calls — sort of a double 2-for-1 bell. We don’t get many personal long-distance calls on weekdays, so when I do hear this double ring, I’m petty sure it’s someone selling something.

I usually answer these calls with either a curt “Yes” or perky “Hola.” (This seems to delay the signal to start the call and when I hear that dead air for a few seconds, I usually hang up. Cold, I know.)

So today I tried a kinder, gentler approach. I vowed no rude hang ups, no screaming at them to stop calling, no cursing them with the fleas of a thousand camels. I answered the double ring with a friendly, “Hello” and listened patiently to the telemarketer’s pitch. I then explained calmly and pleasantly that his offer wasn’t affordable for me at the moment, but to feel free to call back in six months or so.

I did have to explain this a couple of times, but you’ll never believe what happened next. The sales pitch stopped, the man spoke to me in a normal tone of voice and thanked me for my time. I hung up the phone utterly “gobsmacked,” as the Brits say. I still am.


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