Aliens Stole My Baby – Death of a Salesman

“Can I interest you in—” “Nope, nope nope nope nope nope.”

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Death of a Salesman

Back before the dawn of affordable cell phones and Do Not Call lists, our household used to get assailed by telemarketers at all hours of the day.  They especially liked early evening, interrupting nightly Into the High Chair Wrestling rituals and bathtub tsunami-making.  Since we received a fair number of legitimate calls, and for a while had no caller ID or answering machine, we responded to every ring.  Or should I say, my wife did.  She was the more popular target.

The routine usually went like this:

Tammy: “Hello?”
Caller: “We’d like to interest you in a lifetime subscription to Intestinal Cleanliness magazine.”
Tammy: “Randy, it’s for you.”

She has always struggled with phone etiquette.  That is, keeping family calls below two hours and telling telemarketers NO.

I don’t like saying no to them, either.  That’s too easy and not much fun.

Outside of the common approaches, like faking a foreign accent or acting crazy, I saw these interruptions as great opportunities to teach my toddler and infant sons effective telephone use.

So as soon as I detected sales-speak, I would hand the phone off to the closest rugrat.  Danny rarely said anything, which was funny in its own right.  Zach would usually grin and let out an occasional “heh!” as the frustrated crap-pitcher tried to interest him in Isla Nublar condos or Two Months Free! at some hair-removal salon.  Fortunately he never knew our credit card numbers.

In a way I kind of felt bad for the callers though.  These folks are just trying to make a living.  Who knows what all they have to face every day.  Now that I think about it, maybe outsourcing our various customer services to other countries is a form of payback.  Maybe the next step up the employment chain for phone sales jockeys is running service outsourcing projects.  It sure isn’t supervising the jocks; that role doesn’t appear to exist.

Anyway, as much fun as my sons could be, what I really wanted was a pair of Yip Yip Martians.

Do Not Call laws finally arrived as a mixed blessing.  Very few opportunities to jack with those folks any more.  And talking caller ID announces everyone, which removes all the mystery.  I could turn that off, but the robot voice makes our dog Jake howl which is what passes for entertainment these days.

Although, I do have a young grand-daughter now who could record an answering machine message…

excerpted from a planned book, Aliens Stole My Baby!

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