Editor's Note:Here's a new one – well, new to me at least... I'm sitting in my office, working on my materials for a meeting Monday night when someone, calling from a blocked number and speaking in some variant of English that I had encountered before, calls to tell me that I need to "provide myself with any pen and handy paper to take down a number."
Today's post is part teachable moment, part "apology" to the smarmy telemarketer that I believe I might have offended a moment ago...
"Yes ma'am" he said with the sound of someone barely literate reading a script written in a language in which he is barely proficient, "you need to provide yourself with any pen and a handy paper to take down this number. You need to call our CEO to talk about your expected delivery from us." When pressed, he just barely was able to get to the point, that he was calling from "PCH" and that I had to call his CEO to arrange for a delivery. I was not able to get him to stop calling me "ma'am" or "miss" but I was able to get him to tell me that I was "expecting a delivery from Publisher's Clearing House."
"No, I'm not." I retorted. "So, please, tell me why you are calling someone on the no-call list."
"Ma'am," he replied. "You are expecting a delivery from PCH, you need to call our CEO, please provide yourself with any pen and a handy piece of paper..."
"Sir..." I interrupted.
"Yes?" He asked.
"I'm a 'sir' not a 'ma'am' I responded. And I am not expecting anything from PCH."
"You need to call our CEO to..." He started in again.
"Ah! You see, that is where you are wrong." I interrupted. "I do not need to do anything of the sort. I am on the No-Call List. You are breaking the law by calling me. Now, I do not 'need' to do anything. If PCH is sending me something unsolicited – I can do nothing to stop it. But I do not NEED to make any calls; you, on the other hand, need to stop calling me 'ma'am' and need to explain why you are breaking the law by calling someone on the No-Call List!"
"Ok, ma'am..." he started in again, undeterred. "Please provide yourself..."
"Please! Stop calling me 'ma'am'!"
"Okay." He responded, "You know what..."
The click that followed was that of him hanging-up. It was only five minutes, but I see it as five minutes dedicated to Humanity. I know that I didn't make any long-term difference in this creep's day, but hopefully, my delaying tactics kept him from calling someone more gullible for a few minutes. The sad thing is that there are people who are gullible enough to 'provide theirself with any pen and a handy paper to take down this number..." and fall for whatever this scammer was pushing out into the world!
Wherever you are today, I hope that you can do something – no matter how slight it may seem – to improve the world around you.