I'm talking cold calls and cold callers.
Ah yes, I've struck a chord with most of you. We hate them and yet they still exist. Why ? Well like other pests we'd love to see eradicated, from Paris Hilton and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson to anyone who does double glazing ads on tv, they seem impervious to our attempts and will probably be around long after those other infamous survivors, cockroaches, have finally given in to extinction.
We register our phone numbers with agencies that cheerfully assure us this will stop cold calling but you can be pretty sure that if you get a call from an unknown number on a weekday between 6pm and 8pm, it will either be a wrong number or else he or she is a dreaded cold caller who has slipped under or over the agency firewall.
What do these people want ? Why do they do this job, a job more hated than those of estate agents and traffic wardens combined ?
I donno. I don't think I've ever actually listened to one to find out. Oh I've asked them to tell me but then I've placed the phone down and gone off to do something more interesting in the kitchen for a while. Sometimes they're still talking when I return which either makes them incredibly desperate - like a Jehovah's Witness who actually gets invited in - or else they are too dumb to break into their spiel to notice there isn't anyone with a pulse at the other end. If I'm bored, I've deliberately returned to the phone and said "uh-huh.....uh-huh" a few times and then left again. It's a fun game.
I particularly hate it when they can't even get my name right. I'm not worried anymore that they even KNOW my name as in this digital day and age, it's not hard to find out my name and where I live. Well except for my postman it seems but he compensates by often delivering my neighbour's post to me so fair enough.
So when someone, with or without a foreign accent, calls at 7pm and starts by stumbling over my name and finally asks if the bastardised version they've ended up with is me, I have many responses depending on my mood at the time. Hearing lots of other phone conversations going on in the background never helps my mood but at least it helps confirm that the caller isn't ringing to invite me for a meal or a movie and then back to his or her house for a coffee.
I do like it when they immediately give you an 'out.'
"Oh good evening...is that Mr. ahhh..ummm...mumble, splutter, what-sort-of-fucking-name-is-this-anyway xxxxxxxx ?"
"Well if you got it right it might be. Why ?
"Well I'm Dave and how are you this evening ?"
"I'm just fine and bless your heart for ringing me to find out."
Does anyone EVER say...."oh lovely to hear from you. Tell me all about your product/service and I might be interested ?"
And then we have what Americans don't have - cold callers who actually call.......at your door.
It's one thing to see them coming up the driveway with clipboards or a bag of leaflets as you can always just ignore them and they'll have to go away. But you can't be looking out the window all the time and so often only know they are there when they knock. And then you open the door to clipboard man or woman or even worse, identity badge man or woman.
ID badge callers try to give off an air of importance by flashing their usually home made badges at you but in such a way that even a supermarket barcode scanner would be hard pushed to read it. They're talking in your face at the same time so you donno where to look and so the badge, legit or not, has gone back before you can say "get off my doormat."
The worst lot by far, are those who may or may not be 'working in your area' doing anything from hedge trimming to chimney sweeping and are prepared to offer you a great deal if you want your chimney trimmed today. Often these deals are offered in a broad Irish accent and the caller looks and smells like he's not had water on his body since Ireland used punts.
And when you tell them you'll think about it and ask for their business card, they conveniently never seem to have one left on them. Sadly, after a sobering personal experience, my rule now is NEVER to consider ANY offer from ANYONE cold calling at my house. If I want to shove a kid up my chimney, I'll find my own thank you very much.
If the Pope called to sell me a subscription to Childminding Weekly, I'd close the door.
If Jensen Button turned up offering to drive me to Sainsbury's, door close.
If Pamela Anderson turned up to.....well you get the idea.
No, no, no. Cold callers on the phone ? Not interested. At the door ? Even less interested.
But stopping both is the bane of my life. Cancelling my land line would solve the phone issue but that's a bit like overkill - despite me not needing it due to having a cell/mobile. I actually need it to get me a discount on my cable and internet. Go figure.
As for the personal visits....well I'm considering locating a vat of boiling oil in the room above the door as it seemed a valid way of repulsing intruders back in the day. And as we're always told that an Englishman's home is his castle, that solution has a nice ring to it.
Now where is an Irish Jehovah's Witness selling double glazing when you want one ?