April 01, 2020
Column

Phone intruders definitely not welcome

There’s a rule in the house that any politician who calls with a recorded message loses our vote. You want to talk, we’ll pick the time to listen. You want to personally deliver your message, do so. But don’t send over our Verizon line a robotic voice programmed to thousands of other homes in these final days before the November elections.

That holds true for any telemarketer who begins the recording with, “Hey, guys, don’t hang up,” which is what I just did.

Today “Jerry” got through the first four words about a satellite dish before the receiver was promptly returned to its cradle. “Mark” called to say our credit card debt could be reduced; his recording was reduced to a dial tone.

Every other day, some intruder interrupts our goings-on by calling with one solicitation after another: time-share opportunities, long-distance rate cuts, annual giving campaigns, free trips, consumer surveys and voter appeals. Most are recorded messages, thus thwarting my inclination toward profanity.

Other calls have a live voice on the end of the line: someone who begins by mispronouncing our name, then lying, “This is not a sales call.” Off goes the button, down goes the receiver. We don’t do business on the phone, get it?

It’s bad enough that our mailbox is stuffed with unsolicited junk mail and our computer screens are marred by pop-ups and spam. The unwanted mail is dropped in the recycling basket and the Internet advertisements are deleted with the flick of the mouse.

But our nemesis is the use of our phone – OUR – phone by strangers trying to sell something. This annoyance requires we get up, pick up the phone, then slam it down. Three efforts. Even if we had Caller ID, we’d still have to rush from outside, find our glasses, read the unknown number, then listen to the subsequent rings and, worse, the message on the answering machine. Five efforts.

We are paying for our phone service, not you: cancer fund, Maine Public Broadcasting, mortgage company, Delta free air miles, university alumnae, politicians, pollsters, DirecTV or septic system cleaners.

It’s our telephone, not yours, and you’re not welcome to use it.

That applies to every gubernatorial candidate, every legislative and congressional candidate, every TABOR opponent, every constitutional amendment proponent, every national politician and lobbyist group working to influence local elections.

In other words, don’t call us, we’ll call you.


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