Like many people in The Villages, I can remember the telephone as a much less-sophisticated instrument. The first phone I used was the kind where an operator said “Number please” when you picked up. Our telephone number didn’t have 10 digits. It was simply 725-W. Our neighbors on the party line were 752-L and 762-J. Next came the rotary dial, then push-button phones. Later there were car phones, clunky bag phones, and cellphones the size of a small ham. Today’s cellphones are smaller than a deck of cards and do everything but give foot massages.
The only exception to the superiority: telephone solicitors.
They are the scourge of the 21st century. They come at you in droves—a lot like lovebugs. You can squash a love bug but phone solicitors are considerably tougher.
Traditional methods of dealing with them seldom work. Don’t talk to me about the “Do Not Call List.” It’s a typical government project—costs taxpayers a fortune and doesn’t work.
You can scream at them, curse them, hang up on them, or breathe heavily on the line. Nothing bothers them.
So I decided rather than struggle with telephone solicitors I would have some fun with them. Don’t get angry. Play with them.
For example, the most exasperating of all of them is the one who says he magically knows there is a problem with your computer. Lucky you, he’s willing to fix it if you just turn your computer over to him. Incidentally, the solicitor pronounces the word computer as “com-PUTE-or” in a fashion that makes it clear he’s not from Texas or Alabama.
One way of enjoying your call with the so-called computer expert is to act stupid. Say, for example, “My computer can’t possibly have a virus; I’ve had my flu shot.” Other possibilities in the stupid response category include:
“How do you spell ‘www’?”
“Is Dot Com her real name or is it Dorothy Com?”
“If you fix my computer will I be able to play the violin?” (I know it makes absolutely no sense but it throws the com-PUTE-or guy off.)
There are other options to try.
When the caller says he can repair your computer, give out a big whoop and exclaim, “Great! My computer was stolen a week ago and you’ve found it. When can you bring it back?”
You can do your best backwoods accent and say, “We ain’t got no computer but I got a sump pump that needs work.”
Finally, there’s the ultimate response: “Sorry, the dog ate my computer.”
Another telephone solicitor who is fun to play with is a recording. You’ve all gotten these calls. The recordings are clever and for a minute or two, you believe you’re talking to someone.
The calls always begin with the recording saying, “My name is so and so. How are you?”
You semi-automatically say “Fine.” The recording then says “Great” and proceeds with the pitch.
Try saying something like “I’m fine except for the arrow that just passed through my skull.” The computer program will pick up on the word “fine” and say “great” before making the pitch.
Another fun response is to answer the recording in a foreign language. “No habla ingles” is a good response as is “Ich spreche kein Englisch.” Do this and sometimes the recording will just say, “excuse me” and hang up.
Cursing will often work for these calls, as will babbling like a caveman.
When all else fails there’s always the ever-popular “Sorry, the dog ate my phone.”