Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Silence of the Telemarketers

I got an annoying telemarketing call this morning. Since it was an otherwise quiet Sunday morning, we've been on the National Do-Not-Call Registry ever since it started, and have received calls from this same outfit before (and asked to be removed from their list), I was more-than-usually brusque with the woman who called, and she sounded quite hurt (just before I hung up on her in mid-sentence).

I started thinking of various strategies I've tried or had read about over the years to deal with calls like this; the problem is that, even with Caller ID, there is little you can do to truly identify them and make them stop. My mind being the perverse engine that it is, I flashed to "The Silence of the Lambs", specifically to the scene when Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) first visits Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) at his specially-designed cell in a high-security facility. Lecter, a former psychiatrist, whispers something so devastating and persuasive to the person in the next cell that the man kills himself.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to exercise some of that same power in order to get revenge on telemarketers? I've decided that the next time one of them calls, I'll say something like this:
It must be very hard for you. Most normal people quit jobs like yours after only a few weeks; their conscience begins to bother them. All the time calling people who don't want to be disturbed and offering them some sort of bogus prize just to get them to listen long enough to agree to have some equally dishonest person into their homes to give them a hard-sell sales pitch for something they don't need, don't want, and probably can't afford. Maybe you personally are not dishonest-- perhaps you're just desperate. Maybe you can't get a real job, maybe you can't pass a drug test, maybe you're a convicted felon, maybe a sex offender, maybe you're too ugly to deal with the public in person, and this is the only work you can get. But keep this in mind: if your employer is willing to stoop so low as to lie and cheat people to squeeze some bucks from them, if he or she has so little respect for customers, you can pretty much be assured that, sooner or later, employees like you will be treated with the same contempt. After all, people like you are a dime a dozen. Have you thought about that? Do you have trouble sleeping? Can you look at yourself in a mirror? Are you truly happy? Is it all worth it? Don't you feel like a whore?
...and, hopefully, by now the drone on the phone has wrapped the cord around his or her neck and is trying to pull it tight...