THE SONIC BOOMER
I think we can all agree that receiving an unsolicited phone call from someone we don’t know trying to sell us something ranks pretty high on the Let-Me-Get-My-Sledgehammer scale.
Unfortunately, when we fetch our sledgehammers, we realize that the phone we are about to destroy is our own.
I have been driven to distraction by more than one solicitor who simply will not shut up. In fact, to get the job, you pretty much have to promise not to ever, ever, ever, under any circumstances, free your victim by being the first one to hang up.
Obviously, that means we victims have to be the first ones to hang up.
But it rubs us the wrong way. It goes against our grain. After all, anyone who was raised by anything but wolves has been taught not to interrupt. And yet that is what slamming down a receiver amounts to. It is an interruption of the rudest sort.
Yet it has to be done. Good manners and politeness have to go by the wayside, even though we know darn well that this is the beginning of the downfall of society.
At first it is difficult. We try to say “No, thank you” or “Sorry, I’m not interested,” but those protestations are akin to the protestations a flea makes when placed inside a jet engine preparing for take-off. They are 1) not heard and 2) a ridiculous attempt.
As we get bolder, we may try to reason with the caller. “I just sat down to dinner” or “You caught me stepping out of the shower” are permissible excuses when dealing with a rational human being, but phone solicitors are not rational, and I definitely question their humanity. They don’t give a flying fig what you are doing in your free time in the privacy of your own home. You answered the phone, and now they consider your time their time.
Eventually, we feel we have suffered enough abuse at the hands of these drones, and we start to lie. “My dog just ran outside and a car is coming,” “The baby has climbed into the clothes dryer” or “I’m sitting shiva” are valiant attempts, but worthless. They’ve heard all those excuses before, and then some. They simply do not care.
In fact, I thought things were absolutely hopeless until my dear old dad, age 84, inadvertently and innocently solved the problem. I was sitting in his kitchen when the phone rang, and the scene was so beautiful my mouth dropped open.
Mom (after a moment): “Wait just a minute, please. Emmett! It’s a salesman! Can you talk to him? I’m stuffing the turkey!”
Dad: “Hello?” (pause) “What?” (pause) “I can’t understand you.” (pause) “Please speak more slowly.” (pause) “What?” (pause) “A what?” (pause) “You’re really going to have to speak more distinctly.” (pause) “Say it again.” (pause) “Slower, please.” (pause) “Maybe it’s the connection.” (pause) “Just a moment, please.” (shakes the phone) “Start again, please.” (pause) “What?” (pause) “A what?” (pause) “Computer what?”
Dad: “Hello? Hello? Are you there?” (to us) “Do you believe it? He hung up on me!”
I think it was the “computer what?” that did it. But thanks, dad. I now know how to get rid of anyone selling anything.