I Lost It Today

I have been dealing with AT&T telemarketers for around two weeks now. Daily calls, morning to night, sometimes more than one in a day. It has gotten to the point where I am afraid to answer the phone. They won’t take “no” for an answer, and believe you me, I have tried.

After yesterday, I am officially over it. During the 11am phone call, I thought I told the woman pretty clearly that I am not interested in adding any services, thanks for calling. She interrupted to argue with me. I hung up. At 8pm last night, I got another call. Eight my-baby-just-went-to-sleep-and-now-she’s-waking-him-up o’clock last night, she called me again.

I don’t yell at telemarketers. I try to put myself in their shoes. They’ve got a crap job, and they’re just trying to get by, too. They’re making a living doing what The Man tells them to do. I’ve been trapped in jobs by circumstance, too. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I called AT&T this morning and told them that if the calls don’t stop, I’ll be changing my phone service. The (really nice) customer service rep told me it would be no problem to put me on their no-solicitation list. I had no idea there was such a thing, and it made me really happy. She did inform me that it wouldn’t go into effect until midnight tonight. I just have to make it through today. No problem, right?

10am the phone rang. I answered, heard the tell-tale click and pause of a telemarketer, and I hung up. At 11am, the phone rang. I let it. If a real person left an actual message, I could answer. When the machine cut in, the caller hung up. Twice in an hour. Unreal.

And then came noon. I had just gotten the baby down for his nap, and he was in that tricky limbo phase where his brain was trying to decide between hibernate and overdrive, and any sudden interruption can end our efforts for the day. I answered the phone.

Click- pause. “Is this (pronounces my fairly straightforward name very wrongly)”

“Yes.”

“This is (different chick from the one who hassled me yesterday) with AT&T – ”

And I let her have it. I raised my voice to a stranger. It was not how I was brought up, but she had it coming.

“Listen,” I said, “Someone has called me every single day for nearly two weeks. Sometimes twice. When I am eating, when I am going to bed, when my kids are in bed. Every day.We don’t want any additional services. I got put on your no-solicitation list this morning. I know that doesn’t go into effect until midnight, but you are going to stop calling me. It hasn’t been you, it’s been some other chick, but you have to take no for an answer. You woke my kid up from his nap. Calling me twice a day is insane. We are not buying anything else. You are going to stop calling me. Write it down somewhere. Stop calling. I cannot take this anymore. And there is nothing left for either of us to say.”

I hung up on her. I have not hung up on anyone in a flying rage since I was fourteen. As I hit “end,” it hit me like a bolt of remorseful lightning. The voice of the kind customer service rep from this morning played back through my mind. “In the next 24 hours, someone will be calling you  to make sure that you had a good experience with Customer Service.”

That wasn’t my telemarketer pal that I cut loose on. Son of a pup. I am a turd. I hate myself.

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Dear Telemarketer

Call me?

Call me?

Hi, there!

It has been so great talking to you. Four times. In the two days. I am sorry I haven’t been able to chat when you called. I was getting ready to take my son to school/eat dinner/use the toilet/go to bed at those times. But please do call again!

I definitely can’t wait to hear the list of services that you can bundle to save us money. And it’s obvious that you have done your research on my family. I bet your offer on cable really would be a bargain for us. If we had cable in the first place. Or call waiting. Or long distance.

We’re not phone people, but you probably already know that since you have our billing history for the last 10 years. We don’t need the call waiting because we don’t enjoy talking on the phone to even one person at a time, much less two. And we had long-distance disconnected because we never used it. We do have people that we love who live outside of our calling range. And they might like to hear from us more often. But we do email. And send happy thoughts into the ethos at least twice a day. And we have a calling card that we use on birthdays and anniversaries.

Phone conversations are not fun for us. You see, we have three children, and it is a given fact that kids have a Pavlovian response to telephones. The phone rings, and they turn into actual dogs. Giant attention-hounds. The house can be dead silent, the kids quietly occupied in their rooms. When the phone rings, all heck breaks loose. Daughter needs emergency help with her algebra, middle son commences a frantic pantomime to indicate he either desperately needs to go to the bathroom or the snake is loose in his room, and Squish feels the need to climb into the cabinet and sort out the vitamins. No thank you.

I know when you look at our bill, you think we’re seeing another phone company on the side. Trust me. We are not. Most days, I’m not even sure why I have a phone in the first place. The only one who has called in the last week is you. Yours was the single adult voice I heard during the day. The solitary tidbit of grown-up conversation. Please call me back! Soon! I’ll be waiting!