Hello? Hello, is anyone really there?
By Stephan Drew
Do you hate unsolicited phone calls as much as I do?
I really detest them. Every single day, usually at dinnertime, it seems there are scores of people who wish to sell me something just as I’m winding down and trying to relax for the evening.
It’s almost like they have a spy camera which alerts them when I sit down at the table. It never fails. Just as we’re about to enjoy a quiet meal, the phone will ring.
And it’s usually someone with a heavy accent that I’m hard-pressed to understand. For years, I tried to be nice, listen and politely tell them that I’m not interested in whatever product they are selling.
Nevertheless, I tried not to be rude. I realize they have a job to do and they get paid for how many calls they make. However, I am not a person who waits for someone to call before I realize I need to buy something. I’m a “buyer,” not a “shopper.”
You know my type. We’re the ones who say we’re going to “run in the store for just a few minutes” to get one or two items. We know exactly where the items we’re looking for are located. We go straight to that aisle, grab the item we desire and make our way, as quickly as possible, to the checkout counter.
We don’t take time to travel down each aisle looking at all the things we WON’T be buying that day. Spending half of my day in a store is NOT my idea of fun. We don’t “shop,” we “buy.” And we usually buy only what we need, when we need it.
Most of the people in my family have been that way for as long as I can remember. It’s just how I was brought up … tying not to waste any time. So it’s really a great imposition when someone I don’t know calls me after I’m through with the business portion of my day.
After 5 p.m., I endeavor to shut myself off from the chaos of the outside world. But they always find a way to burden you, attempting to sell something they promise that you “have to have.”
They go on and on about how wonderful this product or service is, how much you need it, how it’s going to “change your life” and how you’ve been foolish not to get it before now.
Well, they obviously don’t know me. I have never felt like I “had” to have something. I am not impressed with their tactics, I’m annoyed. The fact that someone would actually presume to know what I need in my life is quite insulting.
So, a few years ago, I decided to try a new approach to telemarketers. I answer the phone and speak in French.
Don’t get me wrong. Even though I lived around the world at a very young age, I’m not fluent in any language as an adult. But, I do know some choice phrases in French and a few other languages. Nothing nasty or profane, just nice little snippets that completely put them off.
For some reason, it works. I have tried Spanish, Italian and I even learned some really insulting expressions in Arabic. None of that worked. But French certainly does. The conversation usually goes somewhat like this:
ME: “Allo, oui?”
TELE: “Good evening, I’m calling about your car warranty.”
ME: “Enchartes de vous voi.”
TELE: “Excuse me?”
ME: “Enchartes de fere vau tous connaissant.”
TELE: “I’m sorry, can you speak English?” (This is really amusing because they are usually speaking with a heavy foreign accent.)
ME: “Mes oui, absolumont! Vasse de amaman de peche.”
After about 15-20 seconds of this back-and-forth, they usually hang up and I never hear from that phone number again. This achieves one important goal. It puts all the pressure on them and makes them the ones who get frustrated, not me.
And, I become completely amused while doing it. They have interrupted my peace and quiet. But, instead of continuing to annoy me, they have actually given me a pleasurable diversion. Simply because I didn’t play THEIR game.
That’s one thing I’ve learned very well. When you’re forced to play someone else’s game, why should you play by THEIR rules? Don’t let them get to you and don’t let them set the rules and spoil your night.
Why should your quiet, restful evening be disturbed by someone you really don’t know and couldn’t care less about? Don’t get upset, make THEM sweat. That’s my motto and, so far, it’s working out pretty well.
Yes, I know what some of you are saying. Why do I even answer the phone when I don’t recognize the number? Because, just like them, I sometimes like to “mess” with people, pushing them as far as I can to see what type of reaction I will get.
I don’t know them and, of course, they have no idea who I am. So, I consider it a harmless way to turn a bad situation into something amusing … at least for me. Life is already full of stressful moments we can’t control. Why not have a little fun?
And, now that I have told you my secret, I hope you will try it someday. One evening, when you’re just sitting down to take a bite of that juicy steak and you hear the phone ring, the wheels in your mind will start turning.
You’ll pick up the phone, purse your lips and say, “Allo, oui?” I promise you it will completely change your telemarketing experience. The phone solicitor will hang up, you will have a good laugh and then you’ll enjoy your meal. You’ll also have a funny story to tell your friends. You’re welcome.