The Telemarketer and Me – a Valuable Lesson

If I were to make a list of my five favorite activities, ‘Listening to a telemarketer make his pitch’ would not make it.

Between you and me it would not make the ‘2,000 activities I enjoy’ list.

When the National Do-Not-Call list was announced a few years ago, I signed up immediately.

It does not work. Those pesky creatures get through anyway.

What REALLY annoys me is that, starting recently, telemarketers have started calling me on my cell phone.

Two days ago I was talking to my daughter shortly before I was due to drive her to the airport. We were having a lively discussion on a topic that escapes me.

My cell phone rang.

I did not recognize the number but had recently posted a blog that was well received so I took the call in case it was a fan.

A somewhat nasal voice mispronounced my name and wanted to know how my day was going.

“Who are you and why are you calling?” I responded. I was loud and not very polite.

He tried to explain who he was and I got rid of him by hanging up.

My daughter’s jaw dropped. “You were so rude to him, Daddy,” she explained. “I’ve never seen you shout like that before!”

“He does it all the time,” my wife interjected helpfully.

I tried to explain that on the scale of evolution telemarketers were somewhere between primordial slime and amoebae, but my daughter was having none of it.

“He was just trying to do his job and he probably hates it and you just made it even more awful for him,” she said.

I said that I had no interest in buying anything.

“You don’t have to buy what he is trying to sell,” she came back. “But you could have been nicer to him. You had the opportunity to make the world a little nicer to a fellow human being and you totally blew it.”

And then she delivered the coup-de-grace.

“Isn’t that what you teach in your course?”

I threw in the towel. Yes, I was being totally me-centered and gave no thought whatsoever to the feelings of said telemarketer and countless others before him. In the back of my mind lurked the thought that if enough persons were like me all telemarketers would quit and the profession would become deservedly extinct, but I did not express it.

But my daughter changed my train of thinking. And exposed a blind spot in which you could park a tractor-trailer.

How many persons do we run across that we cavalierly ignore? Janitors? Waitresses? Cab drivers? Bell hops? Lawn care workers?

Each of these is a human being with his own cares and dreams. They provide a valuable service that we need but we barely acknowledge it. And we don’t even recognize that we are being callous. That we are so self absorbed in our ‘busyness’ that we totally miss the opportunity to enhance someone else’s life and hence our own.

Guiltily I recalled that my wife laid out ice-cold water for our lawn mowers and the mailman on really hot days. I applauded the sentiment but did not even think of doing something similar when the mercury soared and she was away.

I will endeavor to change. I may not buy candy for the next telemarketer who gets me but I will consciously not bite his head off.

And, for a brief instant, I will acknowledge that fate has intertwined us for some unfathomable purpose and will endeavor to make his life a little better through genuine interaction.

The world may be a better place if we all did likewise.