I feel sorry for people who have the job of cold calling people to try and sell something. It must be a cruddy job and I imagine there to be very little satisfaction in it. Despite my sympathy for them, I don’t like answering the telephone to cold callers. Who does? I think everyone has their own strategy for dealing with it. My housemate tends to keep them talking and will push the conversation to the most ridiculous places to see how long they put up with it. While I admire his front for doing this, it feels just a shade too cruel to me. They are people just trying to do their job after all.
I have found that sharing a house with someone who isn’t my partner frequently gives me an excellent opportunity to really confuse cold callers and I can get them off the phone within 5 minutes without being rude and without feeling really mean.
So when I answered the phone this morning this is how the conversation went (for the sake of clarity, let’s assume my housemate is called Rob Smith. He isn’t, but it’s easier with a name):
Caller: “Hello, is that Mrs Smith?”
Caller: “You’re not Mrs Smith?”
Me: “No. I’m absolutely not.”
Caller: “Are you a relative?”
Me: (slightly sultry) “No.”
Caller “I was calling to talk to Mr Robert Smith … (tails off)
Me: No, I’m definitely not Robert.
Caller: “Oh well thank you. Good bye.”
Every time I try this it has a similar effect and it is always the caller that terminates the call, not me. There are a few thing I like about this. Firstly they start the conversation, obviously, and its the caller’s assumptions or lack of certainly about how to proceed that persuades them they should just leave me alone. Secondly, in my working life I generally work really hard to supply information or prompt the people I work with to make sure conversation flows productively and we all get a good outcome. This facilitating communication aspect is a huge part of my job and it surfaces in many different contexts (e.g. day to day chat, supervision of my junior colleagues, facilitating meetings, dealing with students). It is nice in my personal life to sometimes exercise the choice to leave taking responsibility for this. Thirdly, it demonstrates the power of saying the word no. A confidently said “No” with no justification and no excuses can work wonders in some uncomfortable situations as it gives the other person very little to argue with you about.
Does finding great amusement in doing this make me a bad person?