Do Not Not Call

We can switch you for FREE. There aren't many things you can get for free today.

The Federal Trade Commission and Congress think that you should be able to eat your family dinner in peace. Apparently some 50 million plus Americans agree and have registered with the national Do Not Call list. Hogwash. You don't even eat family dinner anymore.

I love getting phone calls from telemarketers. I don't find these calls annoying. I see them as a creative diversion, perhaps because I worked as a telemarketer for three weeks one summer -- the only job I quit in a big ball of flaming wreckage glory, telling the boss, from across the room, that people didn't like us much. He neither agreed nor found it amusing. I think that marketers have every right to call your phone, and you, of course, have the right to greet this call with a big "Fuck off!" should you decide that conversation with your children is more important. (It isn't. They are confused and resentful of you. Especially the second one, who knows he was a mistake.)

Each day for the past few weeks, I have been getting calls from AT&T. Those cats are persistent. Yesterday, I told the woman that I was glad she called because I was so lonely and that I had no friends. She became understandibly uncomfortable. But today I may have set a record; at least a personal record.

Instead of getting off the phone as soon as possible, I tried to keep the caller, Brandon, on as long as I could, regaling him with eccentric behavior and wild talk.

I told Brandon that I wasn't in charge of the phone here (a sure-fire way to get them off your back if you just want to end the conversation there). When he countered with the standard request for the person who WAS I told him that I was that very person. This went back and forth a few times until he just avoided the question all together and got down to business. I admire the tenacity to plow through the confusing roadblocks to blindly stagger forward with the script.

I lamented to Brandon that I had no idea what I paid in phone costs each month, and for all I know it was $800 a month. When asked if this was a business, I told him, "sometimes," and asked that he keep that on the QT since it was all a bit hush-hush. I told him that I make dough, and I enumerated that many things that can be made with dough, namely bread and pizza.

Brandon told me that AT&T owned 90% of the phone lines and I shouted, "90%! How did they get away with THAT?" It sounded like a monopoly to me. I told him that I have a pool boy named Roberto, and that Roberto gets off pretty easy considering I pay him a flat fee and we only have about 6 days of good pool weather here in PA. I asked him about the computer he was using, and what operating system he was using -- followed closely by, "I don't even now what the hell that means! Operating system. I just say that because someone mentioned it at the store." The same was true for chat rooms, which I didn't fully understand but suspected they were a little like the 3-way party line we had on which the lady down the street was always yammerin' away, tying up the line. I asked if he was using a headset and commented that I had the phone tucked between my head and shoulder and that I was already sore. I suggested that he should get a wireless headset, allowing him to walk around the office to discreetly visit the water cooler while still talking to me. I told him about the 150-gallon water tank that I had installed to support my 50-gallon-a-day drinking habit.

I suggested that all participants in their plans should receive a "long-distance caller enthusiasts" magazine, perhaps with lots of pictures of phones. I played some blues music on the slide guitar for him. He said it sounded good. I asked if he wanted to buy some dough. He couldn't. He was at work and could get in trouble for such things.

I asked about all the plans they had, and he detailed them for me while I critiqued each ("25 cents a minute? What people are using THAT plan?"). When asked if I make long distance calls, I said that I make two calls; one to the trucking terminal down the street (to pick up dough and deliver fresh water), and the other to a dear old friend in Juno, Alaska. There was some question as to whether the plan would cover this call. He suggested picking up a few calling cards from 7-11 to cover the cost. I gave him the analogy of paying the milkman $29.95 a month to deliver milk each day and then going out to the 7-11 to also buy milk. He conceded that didn't sound like much of a plan. He didn't ask about the friend in Juno. Smart move.

I told him that I needed about two hours to do some research, that I was going to go down to town hall to ask my state representative about these so-called "AT&T plans". Brandon is going to call back around noon. I told him he'd talk more over lunch.

We talked for 18 minutes.

Rating: Good

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