Daze of My Life/I Call ‘Em as I Receive ‘Em

by Kenneth B. Lourie

Having recently had to cut short a ski vacation for circumstances beyond my control, I found myself vacationing at home rather than on the road one Friday a few weeks back, tending to the many mundane tasks normally handled on weekends in person or over the phone while still at work during the week. And I have to tell you, I had no idea how popular I was. My phone rang more times throughout that day - presumably when I wouldn’t be home - than it ever rings when I’m likewise presumably at home: evenings and weekends.

I realize there’s a new “do not call” list, but if my unexpectedly free Friday is any indication of the “dnc’s” impact - or consequences thereof - the telemarketers haven’t stopped calling, they’ve merely stopped leaving messages.

Oh sure, occasionally there’s a message from Orlando, Fla. about a vacation I’ve won, or an “urgent interest-rate reduction” from one of our active credit cards, and of course there’s usually a message from the ever-vigilant satellite/direct TV franchisees offering installation incentives with better price and packaging than cable TV. And not to be forgotten are the calls from the many re-financiers inquiring about the interest rate on my mortgage. (In fact, I received a mortgage call first thing this morning at 9 a.m., while still asleep, recuperating from my 4 1/2-hour return flight and 2-hour time change.)

Moreover, since I wasn’t supposed to be home, I wasn’t going to act like I was - answering phones and/or responding to aggressive telemarketers asking questions to which the only logical response was yes. Heck, I was supposed to be skiing down Big Rock Park in Blue Sky Basin in Vail, Colo., so after each time the phone rang - and was not answered - I picked up the receiver to hear if there was a quick two-beep indication that a message had been left. Of the nearly 15 calls made to me that day, only one caller dared to leave a message, though he did apologize for his call and the missed opportunity to reduce the interest rate on my mortgage. His sincere disappointment at my not being home to listen to his money-saving offer that morning didn’t weaken my resolve however, and I didn’t answer the phone for the rest of the day.

As I said, I was supposed to be off that day, and out of town to boot. As a result the last thing I wanted to do was endure questions from telemarketers designed to encourage me to respond positively: Do I want to pay less for long distance? Do I want to reduce the interest rate on my mortgage? Do I want to pay off my credit cards? Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m not stupid. Of course I want to reduce the cost of everything but...

Most importantly, I want to reduce the frequency with which I receive these phone calls from telemarketers, who often address me by my first name - presuming a familiarity that absolutely does not exist, who know nothing about me yet purport to have solutions to my problems. I’m afraid it’s not that simple. My problems, though hardly unique to me, are nonetheless known only to me, and I resent these callers using those problems as fodder in their alleged pursuit of my happiness. These problems will be resolved in due course by the three people who know and understand the Louries’ circumstances best: me, myself and I. I appreciate the calls, but it’s substance I need, not solicitations.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.