Ask a Dilettante – Telemarketers

Don’t telemarketers and bill collectors know that the long pause when you answer the phone or the (even worse) “please hold for an important announcement” greeting is just a signal to immediately hang up? They’re already inhibited by caller id. Why do they make it even harder on themselves?
— Jeff Balke, Houston

A lot of things don’t make much sense, Jeff. Why does a business that’s been based in Houston for over a century have no interest in preserving two beautiful structures that decades of Houstonians (many of them past Weingarten’s customers) grew up with? Why does the very un-funny Carlos Mencia have his own show? And why is it that the majority of comments on the Houston Chronicle’s website seem to be made by retarded militia members?

Even if you’ve placed your number on the national do not call list, it seems these gnats, these swine, these havers of the shittiest job ever keep calling. Of course, they aren’t always trying to sell you life insurance. The majority of calls I receive (and I’m on the do not call list) are from various charitable causes I’ve supported in the past. It’s really hard to be rude to someone from an organization that feeds the hungry or supports human rights or finds homes for fuzzy baby animals. Still, I’ve been staying on the line lately to try to weed out the riff-raff. There’s some satisfaction in getting your number removed from the list. Or put on the list. Whatever.

A fun thing to do is answer the phone, wait for the pregnant pause to end and someone to come on the line and mispronounce your name. Cheerily ask them to hold on for a moment while you [fill in the blank]. Set the phone down, wait for about five minutes, then hang up. And don’t answer when they call back. Does it accomplish anything? No. Is it vaguely satisfying, on a very childish level? Yes.

[This column originally appeared in its entirety on Houstonist.]

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