I've insisted for years that I know a thing or two about the human mind. I maintain that most people are of average (and, yes, sometimes below average!) intelligence until they turn 15 or 16. Then they suddenly know it all! My parents pointed this interesting fact out to me some seventeen years ago. As time passes by, the extraordinary knowledge acquired during the teen years gradually dissipates, and most folks become normal by their 25th or 30th birthday and downright stupid by the time their own kids become teenagers. While my parents tend to disagree, I assert that, by some unexplained phenomena, people become all-knowing once again at 65! I point this interesting fact out to my parents all the time.
For example, Mom and Dad and me rarely see eye to eye on how to handle annoying telemarketers. I've warned them not to answer questions, and I've advised them to hang up when the caller is aggressive and pushy. Thankfully, with the advent of the National Do Not Call Registry, I seldom receive telemarketing calls on my home telephone, but our business line is another story. Since the national registry does not apply to business-to-business calls, we are forced to answer our fair share of telemarketing calls. Since we have dealt with some unscrupulous sales agents via telephone, I determined a long time ago it is best not to give these guys the time of day.
I generally respond to telemarketers with one of two lines. If they are polite and courteous, I reply in a pleasant tone, "I wouldn't be interested, and I would appreciate it if you would add us to your 'Don't Call List.' Thank you. Have a nice day!" Then I promptly hang up. If the caller is one of those fellows that takes a breath once every five minutes as he reads his script, I'm bound to get frustrated. When they finally pop the question, 'So, do you think this is something that would interest you, Mr. Freeman?', I become somewhat of a smart aleck. No, really, I do! My answer is generally something like, "Hey man, if you'd taken time to catch your breath three chapters back, I could have saved you a lot of time and trouble. Sorry, but I wouldn't be interested. Add me to your 'Don't Call List,' and don't bother me again." Click. Every now and then, there are those that won't take "no" for an answer. You know the kind. They're the ones that could sell bifocals to Stevie Wonder. They pitch their product or service, ignore your protests and flatly refuse to listen to anything you have to say unless it's "yes" or "I'm sold." To these guys, I have asked the question, "Do you really think that ticking me off is gonna help you make a sale?"
With all of that in mind, I know just how pushy and manipulative telemarketers can be. Phone companies have added services to our line before and insisted that they had our authorization on audio tape. Yeah, whatever! So, I'm always leery when my parents answer a telemarketing call. Maybe even a little protective. I usually motion for Dad or Mom to hand the phone to me, and sometimes they do!
One day, Dad answered a telemarketing call, and the guy on the other line wouldn't take "no" for an answer. I gestured to Dad. He waved me away. The guy still wouldn't shut up, and I finally spoke loud enough for the telemarketer to hear me. "Dad, give me the phone. I'll set him straight!" But Dad gave me a look that undeniably said, 'Back away, boy. I know exactly what I'm doing.' I was reminded at that defining moment that Dad, just a few years earlier, had regained the vast knowledge of his youth, and I returned to what I was doing in quiet submission. Who was I to question his wealth of senior wisdom or ingenius methods? (Who am I kidding? I do that all the time.)
Sitting across the room, I was unable to even faintly hear the telemarketer, but Dad was in rare form. To the telemarketer's fifth sales pitch, Dad said, "No, I don't think I need any of those either. We're well-stocked right now. . . Would you like to buy some chickens?" Either the dude didn't hear him or he was still determined to make a sale. Seconds later, I heard Dad say, "I've got some real good settin' hens . . . and I'll throw in a rooster or two, if you'd like." At this point, Dad was smiling ear to ear, and the sales guy was apparently amused. As the caller made his final pitch, Dad replied, "I've even got some billy goats for sale!" At last, the telemarketer was speechless and, seconds later, I heard a dial tone.
Beaming with an enormous sense of accomplishment, Dad hung up the phone, turned to me and said, "That'll get rid of 'em." Laughing hysterically, I had no choice but to concur.