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Ramblings - Save Us From Telephone Solicitors

POSTED February 28, 2012 10:19 p.m.

May the Good Lord preserve and keep us from telephone solicitors — please.
It isn’t bad enough the mail carrier stuffs my letterbox with advertisements and invitations to buy everything from bathroom tissue to pink elephants. They go, mostly unopened, into the kitchen garbage can and from there to swell a county garbage dump with useless paper. The waste is ferocious.
That accompanies the daily task of separating gaily-colored ads from the newspaper’s reading material and putting them in separate piles.
I like reading. I’m addicted. I will read anything from the ingredients on the back of a breakfast cereal box to legal notices in the newspapers in so small a print I must put on my eyeglasses.
I’ve even been known — mostly on a rainy Sunday — to idly leaf through garish ads of far away vacation spots and adventures. I’m a dreamer. But let somebody try to sell me something, costing real money, and I’ll bristle up like a porcupine at their sheer presumption.
And the idea they can use a telephone to enter my house unasked and waste my time and good nature on talk of buying stuff. Where did they get that idea?
I suppose it was inevitable the telephone would be used to advertise and solicit sales.
Used to be in my boyhood you used a telephone only to report an emergency or arrange a meeting for a face-to-face conversation. In the old, drafty house where I grew up, the telephone was located in the cavernous, badly lit hallway where a cold wind often whistled through the gap underneath the front door.
As in the bathroom, you completed your business quickly and got out of there. Then came telephones located in more comfortable places of the house and ultimately wireless cell phones you could take anywhere to make or receive calls.
Back to telephone solicitation. When the world was young — and I too — it was exciting to hear a telephone ring. Somebody wanted to talk to me, ask me out for dinner maybe, arrange a fun trip or chat about past adventures.
Now my reaction is different. Cursed telephone. Can’t they leave me alone? Just home from work, drink in hand, the cat fed and my meal on the stove and they want to disturb me now? Probably, somebody wants to sell me stuff that I did not ask for and don’t want. Attempts at persuasion will just leave me irritated and exasperated.
All the “bundlings” and bargains in the world can cost zero for all I care. Put your offer in writing, preferably with a date and a signature, and I will think about it at my leisure, not under the gun. Just get off the telephone. It’s evening and I want to rest, not do business.
But they keep calling. Sometimes seems evening is their favorite time. They know when I’ve just started cooking. The potatoes take 10 minutes to boil. They will be soggy and useless if I can’t stretch the cord across the room to take them off the heat by then. Yes, I still use a wall phone.
But any old time will suit them. This morning, one solicitor called at 7:45 a.m., which I regard as an indecent hour to talk business. Sarcasm doesn’t faze them. They’re in no mood for humor and like horses with blinders on will go back to quoting and requoting lists of figures. It’s really unfair to be sarcastic, I tell myself. They are only people trying to hold down a job and make a living. It’s not their fault. It’s the system, which requires businesses to push their wares, all of them, apparently all the time.
Be polite but firm. Try not to slam down the phone, especially when you tell them for the umpteenth time you are not interested and they start their sales pitch all over again.
Yes, I have heard of the “do not call” list. I haven’t tried it. Perhaps I just like the torture.

John Branch is editor of The Riverbank News and a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at jbranch@oakdaleleader.com or 847-3021.

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