I’m not entirely sure why, but I lack the ability to hang up on telemarketers. It’s something I have never been able to do. Instead, I tend to try and lie my way out of the conversation. When I’m offered a magazine subscription or a credit card, I respond by coming up with a gargantuan ball of lies. Normally, it’s something so convoluted and weird that hanging up the phone would be a prefered option for everyone involved. In short, I’m an asshole.
A few minutes ago I received a call from a company selling magazines over the phone. The woman on the line explained how everyone in my neighbourhood has been recieving copies of Maclean’s and I could possibly get a free subscription to mutliple Canadian magazines. She read through her script with this strange coating of disdain. It was a tone of ”buy the goddamn magazines and you can go back to jerking off to Cat Fancy or whatever”. I did not want to buy a magazine subscription. I tried to come up with an excuse over the phone as to why I wouldn’t be interested.
My response: “Sorry, this is embarassing for me to admit, but I’m illiterate.”
It’s dicky, but I figured this would fake revelation would result in the phone call being wrapped up immediately, but instead the telemarketer took weird jabs at me and my claimed illiteracy. I politely explained how sending the magazine would be pointless because I “can’t read” (I did say the photography might be appealing), and in turn I got an angry mocking response.
Telemarketer: ”You can’t read? What do you mean you can’t read? How does someone not know how to read?”
I can’t personally be offended by that. I actually know how to read, but my phone character can’t and I’ll defend him with my dying breath. Besides there are loads of illiterate people in Canada (incumbent Senator Jacques Demers was functionally illiterate for much of his life) and they don’t deserve scorn or ridicule for their situation. And how is it that a salesperson can openly sneer at you for not reading? What kind of cockwart has that policy?
It’s not even a product the call recipient is asking for. I could imagine the same telemarketer calling someone on the phone and asking if they want a bike and berating them when they claim to be confined to a wheelchair. “Why can’t you move your legs? Everyone can ride a bike. Etc.”
I launched into a tirade once the caller’s “what jerkoff can’t read” line of inquiry finally ended.
Me: “So you’re harassing me for being illiterate. You’re calling my house and chastising me for being unable to read and openly mocking me about it? Is that what you do? Do you think that’s appropriate?”
I now have the moral highground. At the start of this conversation it wouldn’t be the case, but “mocking illiterates” is far worse than “lying phone call recipient”. Fuck you “Ronnie” (why does your script ask you to say your name twice? it must be a chore to read), I’m jamming my shame dagger into your chest. Back down.
Telemarketer: “You didn’t go to school? How do you not know?”
I started to explain how my school career was cut short at nine by an absent father and a family too large for my mom to take care of us without help.
This story veered off shortly after I realized I didn’t have to validate my fake illiteracy to an unusually confrontational telemarketer. If I had just hung up the phone or took an axe to said phone, I would be in much better shape. Instead, I created an elaborate portrait of an imaginary man’s life in a desperate effort not to deal with the uncomfortability of simply hanging up the phone.
Because that would be awkward.