Friday, 29 March 2019

The Dinner Interruption

I've always believed that, just because a phone rings, doesn't mean that it has to be answered.

Remember back when the family dinner hour was almost held as a sacred thing? This was "family time." It was a time to catch up with each other at the end of a busy day of school and work. It wasn't about friends (unless they were invited over for dinner), it wasn't about work and the stressors of the job, it wasn't about the neighbours, and it certainly wasn't about telemarketers. This was a private family time, and to interrupt it was not just annoying, it was just plain rude. And perhaps for some of us, maybe it was even a little sacrilegious. Perhaps too, that is why the family dinner hour was (and maybe still is) also the preferred time chosen by telemarketers, because there is a greater likelihood that they would find someone at home to answer their annoying calls.

Yes, I've always believed that, just because a phone rings, doesn't mean that it has to be answered. But sometimes answering it can also prove to be quite entertaining, such as this anonymous story I discovered recently:

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I was at home the other night in the middle of my dinner when the phone rang.

ME: Hello.

AT&T: Hello, this is AT&T.

ME: Is this AT&T.

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: This is AT&T.

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: Is this AT&T?

AT&T: Yes! This is AT&T, may I speak to Mr. Byron, please?

ME: May I ask who is calling?

AT&T: This is AT&T.

ME: OK, hold on.

At this point I put the phone down for a solid 5 minutes thinking that, surely, this person would have hung up the phone. I ate my salad. Much to my surprise, when I picked up the receiver, they were still waiting.

ME: Hello?

AT&T: Is this Mr. Byron?

ME: May I ask who is calling, please?

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: This is AT&T?

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: The phone company.

AT&T: Yes, sir.

ME: I thought you said this was AT&T.

AT&T: Yes, sir, we are a phone company.

ME: I already have a phone.

AT&T: We aren't selling phones today, Mr. Byron. We would like to offer you 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

ME: Now, that's 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day?

AT&T: (getting a little excited at this point by my interest) Yes, sir, that's right! 24 hours a day!

ME: 7 days a week?

AT&T: That's right.

ME: 365 days a year?

AT&T: Yes, sir.

ME: I am definitely interested in that! Wow!!! That's amazing!

AT&T: We think so!

ME: That's quite a sum of money!

AT&T: Yes, sir, it's amazing how it adds up.

ME: OK, so will you send me checks weekly, monthly or just one big one at the end of the year for the full $52,560; and if you send an annual check, can I get a cash advance?

AT&T: Excuse me?

ME: You know, the 10 cents a minute. 

AT&T: What are you talking about?

ME: You said you'd give me 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That comes to $144 per day, $1008 per week and $52,560 per year. I'm just interested in knowing how you will be making payment.

AT&T: Oh, no, sir. I didn't mean we'd be paying you. You pay us 10 cents a minute.

ME: Wait a minute, how do you figure that by saying that you'll give me 10 cents a minute, that I'll give YOU 10 cents a minute? Is this some kind of subliminal telemarketing scheme? I've read about things like this in the Enquirer, you know.

AT&T: No, sir, we are offering 10 cents a minute for-

ME: THERE YOU GO AGAIN! Can I speak to a supervisor please?

AT&T: Sir, I don't think that is necessary.

ME: I insist on speaking to a supervisor!

AT&T: Yes, Mr. Byron. Please hold.

At this point, I begin trying to finish my dinner.

SUPERVISOR: Mr. Byron?

ME: Yeah.

SUPERVISOR: I understand you are not quite understanding our 10 cents a minute program.

ME: Is This A T &T?

SUPERVISOR: Yes, sir, it sure is.

ME: (I had to swallow before I choked on my food. It was all I could do to suppress my laughter and I had to be careful not to produce a snort.) No, actually, I was just waiting for someone to get back to me so that I could sign up for the plan.

SUPERVISOR: Ok, no problem, I'll transfer you back to the person who was helping you.

ME: Thank you.

I was on hold once again and managed a few more mouthfuls. I need to end this conversation. Suddenly, there was an aggravated but polite voice at the other end of the phone.

AT&T: Hello, Mr. Byron, I understand that you are interested in signing up for our plan.?

ME: No, but I was wondering - do you have that "Friends and Family" thing because I'm an only child and I'd really like to have a little brother...

AT&T: (click)

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Well there you have it. So next time the telemarketers call, don't just hang up; that would be boring. Play along. Ask them to hold a moment and then pass the phone to your three year old and tell her/him that it's Santa. On the plus side, the kiddies probably enjoy talking on the phone, and you can go back to enjoying your dinner. You're welcome.
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POSTSCRIPT: I take no credit for the above story or it's corresponding photo. Neither is original to me, nor do I know the source or to whom to give credit. If someone knows the source or author/artist, please drop me a note with the details through a comment. I'd love to give  proper credit. Thanks in advance.

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